Last year, I remember thinking that next winter (this winter) would be challenging. The combination of freezing weather, active toddler, and giant dog is not exactly a dream for anyone. Last winter was mild, and it was so easy to just zip Redmond into his snow suit, bundle myself up, and take the whole crew out for a long walk. And that was kind of all he needed for stimulation and excitement…Not so much anymore.
I’m much busier this year with everything than I was last year and am away from Redmond more. We only have three days a week that we are fully together–the rest of the days are partial or half days, so they don’t take as much forethought. But I’ve tried to get creative with my stay-at-home mom days for a few reasons.
Reason one: I actually really, really, really do not like “playing” with kids. I don’t enjoy driving cars around. I don’t like chasing toddlers and having tickle fights and riling them up. I am basically a huge fun sucker, and you pretty much are never going to find me sitting on the ground with my kid while he tells me what to play. Because of that, I make sure to find alternate ways to spend quality time with my son.
Reason two: I’m an extrovert and staying home all day just makes me grumpy, lonely, and sad. Redmond seems to be trending towards extrovert as well, and he likes to be out and about.
Reason three: I want Redmond to be well behaved when in public. If I can rely on him to listen and respond when we are at a restaurant, or in a store, it makes me want to take him to do special things more. My dad always said that he wanted to have children that he could enjoy. And I feel the same way. Practice makes perfect, so I try to give Redmond Public Practice with relative frequency.
All that being said, I have been trying to be creative with our at-home time as well. So I thought I’d compile a little list of things we do out, and things we do at home. I try to imagine filling Redmond’s little bucket while I fill my own. He needs physical touch, ways to get his energy out, unadulterated attention, and learning experiences. And I need some alone time, a daily work out, and the ability to maintain the household tasks that fulfill me (like cooking.) So, with those things in mind, here are some of the ways we fill our day.
- Gym time. I talk about this all the time on here and with my mom friends. To me, it is the “me” time that I need. I attend 4-5 classes a week and then I’ll usually run, or do yoga, or just go to the sauna afterwards. There is a fantastic childcare room that Redmond always enjoys, and I love that he is getting those hours of socialization since he doesn’t go to daycare. My passes pay for two hours of childcare, and I usually take advantage of most of that time.
- Shopping dates. This one is pretty basic. And Redmond loves shopping. Nowadays, I often will let him walk next to me if we are just going in for a few things. He oohs and aahs at everything, but usually abides by my “only looking” rule and keeps his hands to himself. Its the best place to practice that skill.
- Coffee dates. Nick and I used to eat out quite a bit Pre-baby. Now, we are a bit more careful with our income and keep it to just a few times a month. But I still enjoy the luxurious feeling of being out at a coffee shop, or treating myself (and Redmond) to a pastry. Redmond enjoys the individual attention (since I always put my phone away for these things) and I enjoy eating/drinking something I didn’t make.
- Greenhouse outings. A lot of these photos were taken at our local greenhouse which is one of my favorite places around. We go there allllll the time. Lots of space for Redmond to run around, plus there is a friendly cat in residence and a whole bunch of birds. Usually we end up buying a little plant or something, but it is basically free entertainment for the family.
- Swim days. My gym has an amazing indoor pool and on mornings or afternoons where I want to take up a few hours, we will hit that up.
- Library. Obviously. Nothing new there. We actually rarely take books out…I’m horrible about returning them and we have a ton of our own…but I lead a baby story hour once a week, and we will just hang around playing in the kid area afterwards. And sometimes we visit libraries in fancy towns just to use their fancy toys.
- Woods walks. When it isn’t freezing/muddy/icy/raining, we will go to our local woods. Redmond walks on his own and collects things, and I try to keep our dog from running into the wilderness. (I know this photo is blurry, but it so fully encompasses Redmond at the greenhouse.)
When we are at home, I’ve been making an effort to spend time being still with Redmond. I have such a tendency to be always multi-tasking (I am currently typing this with Red squirming on my lap and taking everything out my desk drawers) that I sometimes forget to just be with him. Just me and him. With no distractions. When I have two children, this will be even more difficult, so its a muscle I’m learning to flex now. He loves to read stories, so we read together a few times a day. I don’t enjoy playing with children, but I do love reading to them.
When I am cooking dinner, I pull his little stool up (we have this one from Wildkin) and give him a few things to “help” with. Lately, that has been a jar with a spoon and some things to “stir” up (vegetable peels work great), or a cookie sheet of flour with cookie cutters and spatulas to make shapes with. The mess is easy to clean up, and its worth the peace and quiet I get with him standing beside me at the counter and not begging to be picked up. We do the same thing when we bake together for fun. And I always let him lick the spoon.
And of course there is nap time. I know that once our family expands I probably will no longer have the blessed two or so hours of quiet. But for now I treasure them. Just as I try to treasure every day with my little one. Because the hard days will fade away, and I will only remember missing the weight of him on my lap, his arms wrapped around my neck, the way he calls me in the morning when he wakes up in that little sing song voice…And I want to know that I didn’t let the hours escape from me. That I didn’t miss out on his little childhood.
I would love to hear what you all do to keep yourselves happy and sane and your babies content and stimulated! Leave ideas in the comments or on my Instagram (@simply_hannah.joy).
photo 1 details: black and white throw c/o modern burlap// distressed jeans c/o// wooden block toy c/o smiling tree toys//Redmonds romper c/o Shedo Lane (UV protected)// Redmonds moccasins c/o sweet n’ swag//
(thanks to Cupcake Mag for connecting me with so many small businesses. I love being able to help support these companies)