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Thursday, August 12, 2010

the playdate and daily rhythm

the kids this morning on a steamy August walk
The playdate has become a required part of the mommy handbook. When I was a kid moms didn’t take the kids on playdates. Moms got together for coffee and the kids played, hopefully you liked their kid. Now the tables are turned. We scope out acquaintances for suitable playmates (age/temperament) and arrange according to naptimes. I actually have some playmates in my phone listed under the kids names (ok, just one, a random park meet, the kids loved each other, me and the mom, not so much, and there it ended. Which brings up a whole other issue. What if you don’t get along with the mom? Oh well?).

And it doesn’t stop there, the outings we must do.

Music Together. Kindermusic. Gymboree. Broadway Babies.Tumbling Tots. Art for Tots. Soccer for Tots. T-ball. Oh. It never ends.

And I live in Minnesota. We are good old fashioned folk here. I can’t imagine what mommies in Manhattan must deal with. Not for the faint of heart.

Now you all must know one thing about me by now.

I am lazy.

I like being out and about amongst other human beings to be sure. I am not a total hermit. But that is with adults. Maybe out for a movie and a drink. Dinner in a restaurant with cloth napkins. Maybe a class or something at a local college. That kind of thing. Sure, great.

Kid outings though? Ugh. Schlepping you and your darlings out of the house for a 9am music class in the middle of winter is a special kind of fun. Only for the most specialist mommies out there.

Why are kiddie classes always at 9am? That is when I am pouring myself cup number two of coffee. I am not ready to join the land of the living by 9am much less do it in a perky manner.

But there are mommies that do it. These mommies baffle me. I have observed one mommy, who was in the music class before me (8am??? Seriously??) with TRIPLETS. TRIPLETS. She was also skinny, like pilates-toned skinny, carried a designer diaper bag and drove a car with leather interior. Not really in my league. She was so darn perky too. Her little darling girls with hairbows and the whole nine yards. How on earth do these moms pull it off? Mommies of this caliber go for daily outings with their children.

Ummm. Really? I feel like a whiney kid. Do I HAAAAAAAVE to???

Now, I know my babycakes appreciates it, I do. And babydear too. It is good for kids to get out, see how the whole interacting with other kids goes and all that. But really. We are going overboard in our whole yogapants world, IMHO. (In My Honest Opinion for those of you not in the know. Insert smiley face guy.)

These days I manage a playdate with a good mommy friend (who also happens to have children my kids age) every week or so. We may or may not make it to playgroup. Depends on if babycakes is acting up…or if mommy changes out of her PJs in time. We do go out of the house – to the park, for a walk on the many trails we are lucky to have around our house, or to the nearby lake – just about every day. I keep on meaning to make it to the art museum or something with them but, eh.

Park/walk kinds of outings are sanity savers though and accomplished with minimal energy on my part. Just like I like it.

When babycakes was little I would go on two of these outings a day, sanity savers, even though I was working PT from home at the time and had a nanny in three times a week to help out. I think with babycakes and babydear playing the way they do, which is well, for the most part (except when they fight over who gets to play with Ironman action figure, etc.) Point is, I can get by on once a day, and sometimes that is just going and running around the yard.

Even these are a lot of work sometimes. Take at the park. I mean, come on folks, am I the only one who is bored crazy hanging out at the playground watching big brother run around like a chicken with his head cut off, pestering big kids (he is obsessed with big kids) to play with him with a sweet “will you be my friend!” while baby eats dirt and tries to kill herself following big brother to the top of the jungle gym? I mean really. I get so tired of it.

And then dealing with all the other peoples kids.

“Umm. Can your kid not throw sand at my kid? Thanks!”

“Hey, remember honey, we don’t go up slides, only down” (as some big, huge 10 year old clambers over your kid to run up the slide.)

I have become much less “hovering” at the park then I once was, to be sure. I want my kid to play. But with a baby to chase and, how shall I put it, a precocious, big brother to deal with, well, I find the park tedious and exhausting. I long for the day when I can say, have fun! And sit down and read US Weekly in peace. (Will that day never come?!)

It seems like the whole daily classes and such, with young kids, is almost like escaping your reality. I’d rather conquer my reality, you know? Does that sound awful? I don’t know. My routine is important for me, and my kids too, its what keeps the whole mommying thing sane.

I have read that your day with young children should be like breathing. “Out” time, where energy is expended, and “in” time where energy is restored. This natural flow of things becomes all the more difficult when we are on the go all day. Plus, my rather “spirited” nearly 4 year old just can’t manage that much interaction and stimulation (umm, ok, neither can I!). But, I like that I can keep my kids at home all day and end the day happily. We like each other. We like being in our little house. We have cozy toy spots and reading areas and we entertain each other, or they entertain themselves, and I clean my little space and I write a little and, it’s good.

Of course the warm fuzzy “I can do this!” days are often followed by the “Get-these-kids-out-from-under-my-feet” kind of days but…nevertheless…they do happen!

I like that I don’t have to excessively plan out activities to keep from going crazy. Instead they are special things we to do together. The library! YAY! Etc.

Here is what our day typically looks like:

7:30am Stumble out of bed at children’s request (MOM, I want some JUICE!!)
7:32 Put on coffee
7:45 Make kids breakfast/change babydear diaper (notice how I put on coffee BEFORE changing diapers. HA. I am pathetic.)
8-9 sit on my butt while kids play (this may look terribly lazy of me but I am a much better mommy if I can ease into my day like this)
9am Dishes/laundry/etc while sipping cup number two
10-noon, laundry/errands/kid craft/outing or playdate if kids are lucky (HA.)
Noon – lunch
1-3 babydear naps while brother plays toys/ rests in his room or does craft/special reading time with mama. Also when mama wastes time on blog posts/internet/reading/work (if available), etc
3-5 afternoon walk to park/playing in kiddie pool/making dinner (if husband is lucky, HA)
5-6 play toys while pressing our noses against the glass, waiting, waiting, WAITING, for daddy’s bus.
5:30pm DADDY! (if daddy is working night job, which he does a few times a week the whole schedule is moved up, kids eat dinner at 5, bath by 6, stories and bed by 7pm)
6pm dinner
7pm bath, stories
8pm mommy heads down with baby dear/gets her down to sleep/puts her in big bed
8:30 Jack asleep (after daddy lays with him for approximately 30 minutes)
8:32 daddy goes to DQ (joking…….kind of)
8:35 mama sips wine
8:45 daddy come home with DQ/adult TV/book reading
10 bedtime

Ok. So I am not saying your day needs to look like my day. Or that you need to be as much as a homebody as me. And I am not saying that every day flows beautifully like the above ideal. It is the ideal. And as such, the not so ideal does happen. Point is, its good to think through what your ideal is and Make It Work. (Can you tell Project Runway is on again? HA.)

So mommies, am I the only one who thinks all this (internal/external) pressure for activities for young kids is nuts? Or am I some crazy hermit who likes hanging out at home? Please, back me up!


  1. I think daily routines should be what you need them to be. ie if your kids/you NEED to get out, then go. If they/you NEED to say in, then stay. It's good to pay attention to what your body and soul are telling you and what’s more, to teach this skill to your kids. Let them see that 'mommy needs to take a break' and put yourself on the sofa for awhile, then when it’s you telling them they need to ‘take and break’ and sit on their bed/sofa/where ever it will (hopefully) be without too much behavior. Any way that’s how I feel about the whole daily-activity-pressure and self-awareness issues. Love you much.

  2. We did some of the external activities for the first few years. Now that I have three kids and I am homeschooling my oldest, I LOVE staying at home. We are still doing the things that work for us (weekly playdate/homeschool co-op with close friends and a weekly ladies' Bible study with church friends). My son goes to preschool from 9-12, which should eliminate ANY need for any extra classes for him. And I am *thinking* about ballet or something for my six-year-old. But the baby? She's along for the ride and happy about it.

  3. glad i am not the only one heidi! i think jack would like dance too......hmmm...
    and of course cari, i agree, and that is the point of the post! do what is sane for you and your kids. not what you think you HAVE to do.
    i did do music together with jack and then later with jack and ayla. they loved it. i have heard great things about broadway babies and other such classes. in moderation, i am all for that. overscheduling our children's lives before they are even in school though? that is a little excessive to me. but again. me=lazy. :)

  4. I'm with you. Total homebody. Activities are well and good but there is a lot of pressure to do a LOT of them.

  5. ROBIN! YAY! so fun to see you on here. glad i am not alone... :)


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