Winter is here.
No amount of peppermint mocha chocolate calorie-ridden beverages can soften the blow of a sub-zero temperatures and all that comes with it. It’s bad enough to have to run out in the blistering cold to pre-heat your car and then trudge through the snow and slush but adding kids to the mix is a total game changer. Of course, they need all the snow gear to protect them from the cold, which must then be promptly removed in order to put them in their car seat.
It’s enough to make this mama want to hibernate.
But this winter is nothing compared to the first one I experienced as a mother of two. My babe was born mid-January adding to the craziness of a 16-month-old. Wintering is hard enough, why not settle in and learn a little from my long list of mistakes. Make your winter as close to a wonderland as it can possibly get.
Seriously. Looking at four walls all day can drive the sanest, most patient parent completely bonkers. Even if it is just for an hour. It will end up being the highlight of your day and give you a reason to put on pants.
GO SOMEWHERE GOOD
Since you are putting all the effort into going out anyway, you might as well make it worth your while. I picked up some favourite haunts throughout my years as a professional ‘mom’ and they are as follows:
Ontario Early Years-Local drop-in play centers and groups. These are set up similarly to a classroom but geared towards 0-6 years. They have bouncers for your babe, are breastfeeding friendly and best of all a great place to meet other parents. They also offer sensory activities like rice tables, playdough, paint so you feel like a good parent but don’t have to make a mess in your house.
Toddlers need to run but they also scream and cry in the cold. Some Early Years offer an open gym day where kids can run around for a few hours minus the freezing temperatures outside. There are areas for infants as well as the bigger kids. Baby wearing was a lifesaver for me here.
No early years in your area? There are other options for you.
Look for parent groups in your area. No matter where you live, no matter how big or small, there is usually a parent’s group. No group? Why not start one with a local church? Many parent groups I have attended have been in church basements. They have nothing to do with faith but instead offer coffee and a bit of playtime for the kids while their parents get to meet others in their communities.
Another great resource I found was joining a MOPS (Moms of preschoolers) group. We would meet once a week for two hours and discuss parenting strategies while drinking coffee. The best part was that volunteers would watch our kids so we could have a much-needed break. I would drive about 40 minutes each week to get to mine, that is how important the break was. Sometimes I would just sink into the couch and sleep with my eyes open. It was wonderful.
If you can’t find any free groups in your area, a great way to meet other parents can be online. Start a parent’s group on Facebook so you can at least connect virtually and then plan social outings.
Although not free, there are also usually cheaper options to get you out of the house. During the day, you can make $10 go far at a play place like Chuck-e-cheese. Some of the best tips I have heard:
- Bring water in a sippy and buy no food
- Don’t go on any school holidays but hit it before noon on a weekday
- Baby wearing can help conquer the chaos.
The library was my saving grace after having my second daughter. Every Friday there was a story and singing program that would run for 30 minutes. We could go, get out some energy and then grab some movies and books to entertain us for the rest of the morning. There is also a large container of blocks, an abacus and other board games and puzzles to keep the kids busy for a random drop in any time. I could actually sit and read a magazine for a few minutes while my oldest coloured or played with the other kids. I still hit the library up all the time.
GET A HOBBY
The one thing that has helped keep me sane in the years of being a stay-at-home-mom is that I have many things outside of motherhood. As much as I love my kids, I am not the mom who wants to sit around and play Barbie for hours on end. Instead, I taught myself to crochet using You Tube. It’s a good hobby to keep you busy while playing with the kids and you can save money by making your own cute hats and accessories.
I also read extensively. I visit the library and have gone to a few book exchanges. I am also addicted to documentaries and watch them whenever I can. Not only do I enjoy these activities, but I also don’t feel like I have nothing to talk about outside of my kids. Not that I don’t love to talk (and write) about them, but I also have lots of other things to talk about to people who may not be as interested in my kids as I am.
The purpose of many of the play places is to meet other parents to hang out with. No matter how busy you keep your schedule, you still need adult conversation. The problem is, when you have two small kids it can be torture to get out that door. Luckily for me, I had a couple of very understanding friends who would come to me, coffee in hand, to save my sanity. If you don’t have that friend, reach out to family, your church, anything to get you some adult conversation.
Do you have any tips to add?
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.