This article has been republished with permission from Kidspot.com.au
It's been more than 12 months in the making - our family's first ever interstate trip to blitz the theme parks on the Gold Coast. Every kid's dream come true.
My five-year-old daughter Leah and four-year-old twins Flynn and Alyssa have been using a countdown calendar for the past 55 days - they are just ecstatic.
They are taking swimming lessons for the pools there and when they see planes fly over our house, they ask whether that is the plane they will be going on. It will be the first time they have ever been on plane - so it's seriously epic for them.
The excitement is still there for the kids - they are young and don't know any better which is probably just as well.
I remember my husband and I discussing that very ride
But when the tragedy struck just two days ago on the Thunder River Rapids ride in Dreamworld my heart broke for everybody affected.
I remember my husband and I discussing that very ride when planning the holiday and looking forward to taking our kids on the ride that we enjoyed so much when were kids.
We were reminiscing about how it was so exciting that you could possibly get wet! Our mums would freak out at getting sprayed with water and we would have wet bums at the end.
No longer a carefree child, but instead a parent of three
As a mother, I feel torn between that parental protective instinct and just wanting them to have fun and experience life. You want to do all you can to protect your child, while knowing that you can never protect them from everything. My initial reaction was to cancel the plans we have had in place since October last year as many questions raced through my mind:
* What are the chances of something like this happening again?
* How can I protect our kids?
* Are theme parks safe?
* What do we tell the kids?
We plan to hit each theme park with gusto and enjoy every moment
My husband too was experiencing these same thoughts. On the night of the tragedy we discussed whether the incident had changed our outlook on the upcoming trip.
The answer is no. You could categorise almost anything as risky and there are few guaranteed certainties in life. We plan to hit each theme park with gusto and enjoy every moment. Yes, we plan to visit Dreamworld where we will stop and pause to recognise those who have lost their lives as a mark of respect. But we will also have fun and enjoy ourselves as we support the park in the days post tragedy while they complete their investigations and come to terms with what has happened.
That ride is important to us and the memories we made when we were young
There will definitely be some trepidation but we will still take them on the Thunder River Rapids ride. I don't think it is silly that our kids get to experience something that we did as kids. So we can talk about it and share our memories with them as we make new ones. The exit conveyor will be stressful though and my mind will go to the victims who passed.
I feel confident that Dreamworld and all other theme parks prioritise safety
There is a one in over 800 million chance of dying in a theme park ride, and it is safer than flying. And I have no doubt that this incident will promote even more stringent checks on rides.
What will change, though, are our thoughts on height restrictions. Our kids fall just under height restriction levels for many rides. We recognise more than ever that these restrictions are there for a reason and that is to protect our children. There are plenty of other fun things to do if you are not tall enough for rides!
Not having these experiences creates a greater risk
Is there a risk? Sure! But I argue that not having those experiences creates a greater risk, the risk that fear will drives us and we will miss out on making amazing memories. Car accidents happen every day, but we don't stop driving. We just exercise caution and vigilance. When we go to Dreamworld, there is no doubt that this tragedy will be on our minds, but our aim as a family is to make wonderful memories. I can't wait.