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Embracing the unplanned crazy days

I had it all planned out, in my head. The kids would frolic on the shore and I’d lay on the quilt my grandmother made, with a book and my camera. It seemed simple. It seemed possible.

Until we got there. Our two hour drive turned into three. Traffic on 17 was virtually stopped and the kids were losing it. The beach was great, but parking wasn’t close. In fact, it was around a bend, up a hill, and in a residential area. I began to re-think the entire idea.

Alas, we were there, so might as well make it work. Taking three little kids, a picnic lunch, blanket, sand toys, and extra clothes through the homes, around the bend, down the hill, and through what felt like a twelve mile walk over sand became our venture.

That sand got in our food, the seagulls attacked and no one ate. My two year old immediately stripped her clothes and diaper in 62-degree weather, then took off right for the ocean. Laying on that blanket? Not happening. Watching them happily frolic through the shore? Eh.

I was disappointed. I was tired. I was wondering how on earth I had romanticized such a trip — I’ve been a mom for nine years now. I knew better.

Eventually, I smacked myself and went with it. Pulled out my camera and chased the seagulls. Embraced my daughter’s lack of clothes and let the boys cover themselves in wet, rough sand. We got dinner on our way home and though the travel back was again, three hours, we took turns talking about our favorite parts of the day.

I embraced the crazy, the chaos, the mess. I used my camera to document, so we could remember. Because the beautiful parts of that day were amazing. The other parts? We laugh about now.

It didn’t go as planned but I chose to make the best of it, and in turn gave my children a day they’ll talk about for years to come.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Diana

    I’m long past thisy beautiful crazy days of making memories with my kids .
    I now have adult children far flung and a granddaughter on the other side if the world I have yet to meet .
    I now have elderly in laws that come with new challenges and as you did , I have warm romantic ideas to entertain them and spend quality time with them .
    My mother in law turned 85 today but has had two bouts if cancer surgery and a stroke in the Oast 12 months robbing her 0f her speech .
    My father in law us deaf and slightly senile so thinking if something nice to do fir them is not easy .
    Today I simplified it all from my usual high energy well orchestrated event . We drove them to our local beach and sat under a shady tree . I walked to the seafood shop and bought fish and Chips wrapped in paper and a box of icecreams from the supermarket .
    We ate in the sunshine with a soft breeze bliwing , looking at the ocean and just enjoying the company . I took lots of photos to send to her grandchildren so they coukd remember their lovely Nanna . I don’t know how long she has left or whether my sons will be back anytime to see her .
    All the expensive places we have taken her and gifts we have bought paled into insignificance when I saw her happiness just doing something so simple

    • susan

      Thank you – that was beautiful.

    • Allison

      Thank you for sharing your lovely comment. With young kids, it is easy to get caught up in the craziness, and forget there are other memories and moments to capture to. This brought tears. I am glad you captured a beautiful memory.

    • Kim

      What a sweetly simple and wonderful idea. So often it is the counter-intuitive idea that is the best. Rather than doing, going, seeing, you sat, and were still in the simplicity and beauty of the moment. Thanks for that image. I imagine your photos of this outing are ones your children will treasure!

  2. Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha

    Oh, I love that mantra — Embrace the crazy! Because you are so right, it’s all we can do sometimes, and it ends up making a lovely memory in the end. I sometimes have a hard time doing this, but I tell myself, “it is what it is.” If we can’t change it, we can embrace it as if we had chosen it. Thanks for sharing this (and your gorgeous pictures!)

  3. Katie May

    I recently read in Jennie Allen’s book, “Anything”: “In parenting, at some point you give in to the lack of control…at some point you either live perpetually anxious or give in and embrace the fact that your life right now is completely out of your control…once you embrace that, parenting shifts from an agenda to an experience.” That’s where I am right now…longing for parenting to shift from an agenda to an experience in my life by simply flowing with my lack of control.

  4. Jennifer

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s a lesson I really need to learn. Will try to remember to “Embrace the Crazy!”

  5. Amy Reasoner

    I love the idea of embracing the crazy! In a very literal way, when things are going nuts in my house, sometimes the only thing I can do is close my laptop, turn off the TV and put my arms around my wailing children.

  6. Jane

    Why oh why do you modern moms moan so much.
    Be grateful for what you have.
    I detest whiny moany people who just are never happy with their lot.

  7. Bethany V.

    I’m trying to learn to embrace the crazy. Sometimes it means putting aside my plans for the day and just getting down on the floor with the kids. Other times it means just calling a day what it is, a complete disaster. (Like a recent family trip to Ikea, which involves a two hour round trip. Seriously, worse day ever). But refusing to abandon hope that someday we will be able to have fun family outings. (Perhaps when they are little older).

  8. Kristen N

    Thanks for the wonderful post and photos. I recently had a similar experience taking my kids to the art museum. Now we look back and laugh and remember the excursion with fondness.

  9. Chris K.

    Thank you for sharing. It is sometimes disappointing when an anticipated trip or event isn’t what you had hoped. And then you are disappointed for being disappointed. Writing about it is helpful. Just knowing one is not alone in that feeling.

    Being there, in the moment, is my current quest.

    I bet you have many fun beach (or other) trips to come. Embracing the crazy is a great motto. (I should teach it to my husband.)

  10. Kim

    Wise words and great advice!
    I have a saying: When there’s a fork in the road, eat cake. 🙂
    We all face a crossroads regularly when on vacation or just taking an hour to go to the park. We can choose whether to focus on what is going wrong/not according to plan, or to focus on reasons to be grateful. As you noted, it can be a hard thing to let go of our ideas and our control, but it always makes for a more joyful time and better memories to focus on the good.

  11. Moira @ Hearth and Homefront

    As a mother of two boys, this is something I work hard to remember 🙂 It always seems that the trips or events where nothing goes as I expected and on the surface are really frustrating, are the memories we bring up time and time again. Like the time we went hiking and our son fell into the only puddle of water for miles around and spent the rest of the hike without pants! At the time, I bemoaned my lack of preparedness and my mortification of a 3 year old walking around in public in his underwear…now 2 years later I can see it as I should have seen it then-absolutely hysterical!

  12. Diane McElwain

    Cute and honest! How often we try to have the perfect day and all goes wrong.
    Your daughter will thank you one day that you didn’t post that one photo!

  13. Eric Ungs

    Absolutely wonderful! One of the simplest things, but yet hard to do; let go. Such a beautiful reminder that life doesn’t typically go according to plan, but to feel as though it did, you need to embrace the crazy. Love it! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story.

  14. KittysMum

    And boy, did you got some cracking photos to show for it? Well done you for going with the flow. x

  15. Becky

    My children too are grown, but we still call it “Custerizing”–embracing the crazy–a phrase brought into family vocabulary in memory of a camping trip at Ft. Custer State Park where it rained for an entire weekend, and we still managed to come home with a weekend’s worth of lasting memories and stories.

  16. Lori SF

    Great advice. I have been disappointed in the past due to romanticized ideas of family outings. Now that my kids are 6 and 9 years old, I’m getting better at it and usually anticipate the chaos. Life is always full of surprises, though.

  17. stacie

    Try seabright beach and always go super early as 17 is a mess on the weekends. Glad you were able to embrace the crazy! The beach can be tough…

  18. Lynuska

    Just got back from a marriage counseling weekend… Embrace the Crazy was the exact phrase that was lovingly pounded into us! 🙂 It was more aimed at my hubby, but by this morning I realized that I need it every bit as much. I am a 45yr old mom of three. I have been an expat all my married life, and my husband and 12 yr old son both have Aspergers Syndrome (a neurological – not psychological – condition.) It was a comfort to read your article, and realize we ALL have a “Crazy”, even though it looks different in each family, and we all have a choice to stress out over it, or embrace it.

    For me, embracing the crazy means, “I get to give a gift of grace today… thank you, God, for giving me more grace than I’ll ever be able to give others.”

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