Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days, 31 Smiles {Day 8}: Do Something Unexpected

One of the easiest ways to bring a smile to a child's face is to do something unexpected.

I've been waiting until cooler weather to take my kids to the local zoo.  Most children are back in school, the temperatures are inviting, and the animals are more active.  I decided to keep it a secret.  I waited until we finished our morning routine and then said, "Are we ready to start school?  Okay, everyone go to the bathroom and then put on your shoes because we're going to the zoo for school today." I was met with big round eyes and happy squeals (though you can't tell that from the pasted on smiles below).  

So what made this unexpected outing less stressful than a regular outing? 
  1. Because I kept it to myself, I could take the time to plan it without anyone saying, "Did you pack my green sweatshirt?" or "What time are we going to leave?"  or "I don't like peanut butter sandwiches!"  or "I'd rather go to..."


  2.  Because it was unexpected, there were no expectations so everything we did was a treat. 

We strolled through the zoo, saying hello to the bears, the jaguar, the beaver, the wolves, the wood ducks, the alligators, the monkeys...

As we exited, we passed the large playground that my kids never get to visit because it is normally so congested that I can't keep my eye on all five at once, but this day, I was able to say yes. 

When I pulled out a (very simple) picnic lunch, Owen exclaimed, "This is the best school day ever!" 

"Something unexpected" isn't limited to a fun outing.  You can get the same response by saying yes to something unexpected at home. 

Yes... to cake for breakfast. 

Yes... to Wii time. 

Yes... to skipping naps in favor of playing outside (... and early bedtime!). 

Yes... to reading aloud one more book or one more chapter. 

One night last week, I decided at the last minute to grocery shop in the evening instead of waiting until the following morning.  The two littlest were already asleep and the older kids were getting ready for bed.  Owen (age 6) asked if he could go to the store with me, knowing I would say no.  I surprised him (and myself) and said yes instead.  A smile never left his face from the time we grabbed the list off of the refrigerator until we brought the last bag of groceries into the house later that night!  The element of surprise, not the place itself, created a happy time!

Have you done anything unexpected lately?


  1. What a joy to the kids it was I can only imagine. It put a smile on my face too. I will have to remember this. There have been times I have seen that smile on Aaron's face when he ask for one more story. Thanks for the post! Glad the surprise was lots of fun for all!

  2. Love this! It's so true that even little things can be special when they're unexpected.

  3. i just caught up on the series ... you're doing great! and inspiring me ... and i so 'get' not telling them that something's coming up. i do that a lot.

    ... a trip to the zoo with 5 kids by yourself! go you!


  4. Oh, I love to surprise by saying yes when a no was anticipated. But maybe I need to kick it up a notch, because I don't think I've ever planned a surprise outing like this! Wish I could have seen their faces!

  5. We went to a friends home this afternoon to decorate foam pumpkins. I didn't tell the kids we were going until lunch time, so they would know why they had to keep working on school rather than take a break. I also didn't tell them that we were going to do a craft with our friends until we got there. Everyone had fun, especially when they were given homemade fudgescicles to eat outside.

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog! How funny that we did the same thing on the same day....that was a lot of coincidences! :)

  7. So true!

    Once, a few weeks ago, we got Eleanor all ready for bed, and then to her surprise, popped her pajama-clad self into the stroller, gave her a flashlight, and went for a stroll around our dark neighborhood. It was only about a 15 minute walk, so it didn't delay bedtime much, but she thought it was the best thing ever.

    I'm looking forward to when she's older and I can surprise her with things like the zoo too! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...