The very first time I took my kids on a month-long road trip (when they were just seven and three), the theme I made up for our trip was "go with the flow". I wanted them to embark with open, flexible attitudes, ready to roll with the inevitable bumps in the road before us. And I wanted that attitude for myself as well. So when things didn't go according to plan during our four weeks away – when we had to stay up past bedtime to get to our next destination, when we don't tick all the things off of everyone's bucket list, when we'd get caught in our heads of how we thought something was going to unfold – we'd remind ourselves: just "go with the flow".
We've adopted that attitude on this trip as well. Flat tire? Go with the flow. Paid twice what you wanted to for dinner? Go with the flow. No bedsheets at that Air B&B? Go with the flow. We set an intention to move through the inevitable bumps in the journey with good humor and a cool head; to collect the lessons we need for a better tomorrow without getting tied up in what went amiss; and let the rest go.
My most recent "go with the flow" moment was last week, when I had an agenda but my kids really needed a day off. I wanted to hike, explore, set off down a rough and winding trail! But as anyone who has hiked with hungry, overtired, rain-soaked children (literally or figuratively), I knew the rational limits. We would take the day off. I would go with the flow.
And so while we arrived at Connemara National Park with my head full of ideas of the trails I wanted to explore, I respected their need for down time. Instead of hiking we set off by car to see the park. It was the end of a very full week and a break was in order. We took it. (But no, we didn't stay in our B&B like some may have preferred, because everyone adapts.)
Instead we drove some breathtaking loop drives, popped out of the car to explore a little here and there, then went out for dinner and a little live music, something we haven't managed much of since arriving in Ireland due to budgets and bedtimes.
Go with the flow.
Everyone adapts; and everyone's needs are met.
The next day hiking was on the agenda. And others would go with the flow if needed. Balance. Give and take. Family.
I think as parents we often get caught in our own vision or ideals of how we're like things to unfold. We've pre-written a lot of stories in our heads through the years, haven't we? But when we put down those stories and instead reach for balance – when we set our parental compass on honoring everyone's needs (including our own) and everyone takes part in the give and take – it's a nicer journey for us all. Wherever that road may lead.
Will you join me today? In making "go with the flow" your mantra?
Together, we can relax into what is, find a path that suits us all, and see what lies beyond that next horizon.