Just Let Them Be Upset

For spring break this year, my family visited friends who live near Washington D.C. and played tourist in our nation’s capital.

On one particular day, there was a fair amount of walking and waiting in line, especially for kids who don’t quite appreciate the experience yet and would really prefer to be with their friends playing.

As we were walking from the Library of Congress on one end of the National Mall to the White House about a mile away, my kids (ages 9-14) were getting really whiny.

There was a time not too long ago when this situation would have made me quite anxious.

I would have felt the need to make them happy again, even it meant changing our plans, or stopping for expensive treats. I might have become snappy or frustrated, preaching at them how they should be grateful for the experience.

But this time? I just let them be upset.

And I kept on being excited and happy myself. I was being silly, skipping down the sidewalk.

I was allowing myself to be amazed at the details I noticed. I took pictures. I asked questions out loud for everyone to think about.

I ignored the grumpy faces and high pitched voices.

I remembered I had some gum in my backpack and handed it out to the troops and- voila! Everyone was back to their happy selves.

We got as close as possible to the White House for a family selfie (which was still too far away). We grabbed some souvenirs on the way back to the car and before we knew it, we were at the house playing with our friends again

What could have turned the rest of the day into an unpleasant experience, was diverted just by me choosing my own attitude and not trying to “fix” how my kids were feeling.

I have learned that it’s okay if my kids are hungry. It’s okay if they are uncomfortable–cold, tired, or have sore feet. Moods come and go, and my kids’ moods don’t have to determine my own.

However, recognizing the power of MY mood on theirs has been eye-opening.

Family travel can be a time of high stress.

I’ve learned to try to not compound a negative situation by adding my own negativity to the pile.

We may not be able to control everyone’s emotions, but we can control our own.


Denita Bremer is a stay-at-home mom to three kids who is currently feeding a dream to become a life coach. She lives in Colorado, but loves to travel to the earth’s beaches because life is better at the beach. She has a baby blog at Author of A Good Story.

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