Behind the Scenes of a Picture Perfect Day
Do you ever see a photo online of a family having, what looks to be, the best day ever. Me too, and i'll be honest, more often than not it's me whose posting them. My Instagram is built largely on photos of our family adventures outdoors. Today i'm going to give you a rare glimpse, behind the scenes, of what one of those adventures really looks like. Because, let me tell you, its rarely what the pictures would have you believe.
We woke up Sunday morning, the sun was shining. Birds were singing and after a very lazy-stay-at-home kinda Saturday I announced we would be going to the beach today. I'm fairly certain if I don't visit the beach on a regular basis i'll get withdrawal symptoms. I daren't test the theory though, why take the risk. ;)
Once all 5 of us were up, dressed and fed there was just the simple matter of getting the bag together and getting out the door. Oh, and convincing the children they want to come with us. I like to give the kids a say in our plans (sometimes) so I gave them a choice; "a beach you walk to or a beach you can park right next to?". They choose park next to. But wait Oldest wants to know if she can climb at that beach. I inform her that's only an option at the walk to beach. So we change plan. I'm relieved as thats where I was hoping to go. We haven't been there since youngest started resisting the sling, but we figure at almost 2 and a half maybe he's ready for that walk now. Meanwhile Middle is complaining; he doesn't want to go anywhere. Our strategy these days is to just ignore his complaints. He has actually admitted to me in the past "I never want to go anywhere, but you're right, I always end up having fun when I get there." I have taken this as verbal consent to drag him anywhere I want, and i'm fairly sure it'd hold up in court. Right?
It always takes way longer than you'd ever imagine to get to the ready-to-leave stage. But the picnic is packed and the changing bag is sorted. I've even had chance to round up all the photography gear I deem necessary for such an outing. But... there's always a but. Oldest can't decide what shoes to wear. Yep, you read that right. She's 8. Surely we are not at tears over shoe choices yet?! Wellies mean she can go in the sea, but trainers would be best for climbing, but boots are her favourite. At one point she was actually trying to pack 2 pairs of shoes into a bag so she could wear the third and change when needed. Whilst I try and talk her down from the ledge, hubby is off winning at parenting and has 2/3 children in the car. He's even packed all the kid's coats and the picnic. But don't worry, I got the playing field levelled soon after. I convinced Oldest to wear her trainers and only take her wellies in her bag (which she actually left in the car anyway after all that!) and then realised hubby had left the changing bag in the kitchen and the back door wide open. Phew, I'm not losing at parenting anymore ;)
Once we are all finally in the car, doors are all closed, locked and bags are where they should be, a sigh of relief is breathed. We're on our way. We did it, we got all 5 of us out the house.
Cue the screaming...
Middle is doing something Oldest is none to happy about, so she's screaming at him. Youngest is at that delightful age where his main goal appears to be perfecting copying all sounds that make your ears bleed. So he's screaming too. It's at that point I really need to press a button and raise a soundproof barrier. Someone's working on that right? Thankfully, a few minutes and a couple of strong words later and the screams and tears dissipate and before long we've reached our destination. Now i'm thinking, ok great, this time we actually did it, we got all 5 of us out the house and to the beach. Achievement.
All parked up, and we start the walk down to Tor Bay. The kids seem to have suddenly had personality transplants and resemble angels. Oldest even held Youngest's hand the whole way down. Winning at parenting again. That's the moment you think it's all worth it. dragging them out the house, the screams and tantrums, we did know best after all. It will be blissful sunny day living from here on out....
We arrived at the beach and it was paradise. Golden sand, blue skies and blue shimmering sea. Spring is here and beautiful flowers and blossom are brightening up the hillside and as if that wasn't perfect enough, we could count the number of people in sight on one hand. We found ourselves a lovely little spot next to some rocks for Oldest to climb on. Hubby played football with Middle and Youngest. I sat soaking up vitamin D, interspersed with mini heart-attacks from watching Oldest climb and climb and climb. Deep breaths!
You know that moment when you can no longer see any of your family members and it's all very quiet? I was having one of those moments. I wasn't sure whether to enjoy it or panic. I enjoyed it for a good few minutes. I mean its a glorious sunny day and i'm on a beach. I'm only human. But eventually curiosity got the better of me. Turns out they had found a family of ducks. That's right, ducks. On a beach! A mama duck and lots of little ducklings having a little swim in the rock pools. I think we must have spooked them though as Mama duck decides to waddle off heading straight for the sea, but 2 little ducklings got stuck trying to catch up with her. Cue 3 distressed children and 1 duckling-saving-hubby, picking them up and chasing after Mama duck with them. A phone call to the Gower Bird rescue centre assured us that whilst they are seemingly quite lost, they will probably be fine if we leave them to it and give them some space. Duckling drama solved, must be time for lunch.
Now it must be time to relax right?
It took me a while to realise what had happened when I returned to our bags. Food was strewn everywhere. Something had gotten to our lunch first! Our bag had been ripped open, packets torn open and our food was all over the beach. And they had obviously enjoyed our lunch, as whatever small creature they were previously carrying had been left next to our picnic. Maybe this was their idea of a trade? I had seen a bird of prey flying around overhead earlier on so i'm fairly certain they were the culprit.
It was at this point we admitted defeat. We ate the bits of our lunch that remained, but there wasn't a lot left. We packed up and started the walk back up the hill. Time to go home for some proper lunch, and hopefully a less dramatic Sunday afternoon.
Despite all of this drama, some of it more unusual than we're used to, It's not my intention for this blog post to put you off venturing outside with your kids. We did actually have a great time somewhere in amongst all of that. As for the kids, they had a blast, and will only ever remember the beautiful beach, running down the sand dunes, climbing on cliffs, cute little ducks and a funny bird eating our lunch. I guess what i'm trying to say is, that whilst a photo that shows a perfect day out will more often than not to some extent be a lie. Or at least, not be a true reflection of the whole picture. That doesn't mean we should stop trying to have some of those picture perfect days. Not so that one day they'll actually be perfect, because maybe they never will be, but because the most honest thing in any of these photos is that getting outside with your family is a good thing. So battle through the complaints and tantrums, the oh so loud car journeys that make you want to turn back, and go have an adventure with your family. It probably wont be perfect, but it will be beautiful.
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