Toddler-centric weekends

IMG_0101This was a fairly productive weekend, as these things go. On Friday, I went to NYC for the board meeting of the University Press Club, a century-old Princeton institution that I was in as an undergraduate. We were brainstorming what the club should look like in its second hundred years, given all the changes in journalism. I’m not sure if we solved all the problems in journalism, but my particular small group was quite fun, given that it featured Bill Rukeyser (former managing editor of Money and Fortune). After, we went to a party at one board member’s East Harlem town house. It was good networking and reminiscing all around, though I did have to do my usual dash to Penn Station.

I read there and back on the train, and finished Cal Newport’s new book Deep Work (I’m writing about it for Fortune, and will write about it here in another week or two). Over the weekend I also managed to read the entirety of Arlie Hochschild’s old book, The Second Shift, as I’m writing about it for Fast Company (a what’s changed sort of piece). I ran twice. I cooked a chicken and artichoke dish, banana bread, and white chili.

However, much of the weekend was dictated by my new winter reality. My husband loves to ski, and my two older boys are now in a ski development program at a mountain that’s 90 minutes away. My daughter is likely going to go many days with them too. So my weekends are going to feature a lot of solo toddler time.

This weekend I did a zoo trip on Saturday (my daughter was with us) and then worked during nap. On Sunday we didn’t leave the house in the morning, which was potentially a mistake. It was raining, though, and it was hard to motivate. Also, while church is a good thing to do on Sunday morning, I’m not terribly excited about putting the baby in the church nursery. He’s still recovering from his cough, and I’m worried about what else he’ll pick up. This is the reason that the Y childcare room is not happening right now either (or ski mountain daycares).

So, as I look forward to the next few months, I’m trying to figure out what I can do on weekends to entertain myself and my 1-year-old and yet still feel somewhat restored at the end of the weekend. I’m going to have to do some digging. There are only so many times we can go to the Please Touch Museum. The zoo happened because it was 45 degrees on Saturday, but that may be a rare occurrence. I need some anchor event for the morning, which will then bring us home around lunch for nap (he’s down to one nap a day, but it’s usually a reasonable one in the afternoon). I need to get myself organized to use nap time for whatever needs to get done on the weekend, because it is basically impossible to do anything, including shower, with my son awake. Then potentially we do some shorter afternoon activity once he wakes up. I welcome suggestions.

In other news: I’m posting time logs this week, but since the time challenge starts on Monday Januarly 11, there won’t be much to post until evening. But the 7-Day Time Tracking Challenge is ON so please log along with me!

19 thoughts on “Toddler-centric weekends

  1. Hmmm — would going to an indoor pool for some “together” “swim” time be a morning option? I’m fortunate to live in a town with a great and very kid-friendly public pool, and DS and I spent a LOT of time there during his 2nd winter. You two then also get to shower together, which certainly has its challenges but is one of those must-do things with swimming…

    I don’t know if you live near a friendly university campus, but I’ve found a lot of campus buildings (work spaces, not dorms — things that aren’t quite libraries but intended to have study space in them) to have large open areas that are often pretty quiet/empty in the mornings and thus, able to tolerate kids wandering through them, and exploring stairs, elevators, etc. Contemporary college furniture often lends itself pretty well to kid amusement.

    My son and I also used to enjoy riding the bus into town (about a 30-minute time commitment, if managed right i.e., stretched out), buying a snack somewhere, and riding back out.

    And, last but not least, we’d go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and peruse the aisles. This worked best when the lawn tractors, which offered easily an hour of entertainment, were on display, and perhaps they aren’t up your way at this time of year. But there are lots of things to see in those stores, and a good level from tolerance-to-enthusiasm (in my experience) on the part of both staff and other patrons for the kid’s interest in the merchandise.

    1. @Alexicographer – we could certainly do the Y pool without my putting him in the childcare area. I will check for open swim times on weekends for sure. And agreed on stores. On Friday (when I also had him for the morning) we went for a leisurely shopping trip at Wegmans, which was quite nice. He was in a good mood at 10 a.m., and he was contained by the cart, and there is much to see in the grocery store.

      1. My dad and my niece spent a lot of time running errands over school holidays. I think this mostly involved going to the pet store to look at fish and then to the sandwich shop for lunch.

    1. @Louisa – in this case it’s made with chicken and Great Northern white beans. So no tomatoes or hamburger. I recognize that the presence of beans is itself a source of great controversy.

  2. When my older son was a toddler, I often found myself in the same situation so I signed him up for a Music Together class on Saturday mornings. It got us up, dressed, and out of the house at a reasonable hour and also provided some nice kid and adult interaction for a very manageable period of time. Then there was time for a quick errand or two (Costco and their numerous samples is always an adventure) before lunch and nap. After a 2-year break, I just started my 19-month old and while it might cause some conflicts on the days my older son now has sports or other activities, I’m finding it to be a great anchor event(love that term!). Of course you could sub Gymboree, My Gym, or any other structured parent-tot “class” as well. When my older son was old enough I subbed a “gymnastics” class for 2-year olds at the Y which provided a well-needed amount of running/jumping/laughter for a winter weekend.

    1. @Shelley- I should probably look into Saturday morning classes. We do have some Gymboree and Little Gym stuff around here. Of course I’m somewhat in the 4th kid mindset where I’m like, hmm, Costco is probably just as stimulating, and more useful from my perspective 🙂

  3. I’m interested in your ideas as my baby will be turning one in mid-April. (Also, I find it interesting how you’ve already transitioned to thinking of him as a toddler :-). I feel like it takes me until about 15 months old to make that mental shift.)

    It also bothers me that having a toddler and older kids (and the age gap is quite a bit more pronounced in our family) often means a lot of the older kids and dad hanging out doing fun stuff and mom and baby/toddler relegated to the margins. I know it’s often unavoidable but still kind of unfortunate.

    I guess once my little guy gets to the age where he drops his morning nap, I kind of plan to have a rotation of children’s science museum/zoo/park/indoor playground every Sunday of the month. But am always open to new and better ideas!

    1. @Rinna – I just recently started thinking of him that way, but he’s definitely toddling. He walks all over the place. He also falls down flat on his face a lot (as you can probably see in the photo!) He’s transitioned to one nap. My others took until about 15 months, but he’s there now, so I’ve started to put him in the toddler camp.

      Yeah, we often wind up with the big kid/little kid split too. I try to make sure I get some time with the big kids, but it is hard. I need some better indoor playgrounds around here…

  4. I like the Gymboree classes – and unlike Costco, no large displays to knock over! Also: PLAYDATES. Meeting up with a friend to do something. I love this tactic.

    I am tracking time this week! (Or trying to). Wish me luck, I always seem to forget 1-2 days in!

  5. I find playdates most helpful. Is there someone you know who is in a similar situation and would appreciate a visit? At times I even visit people without kids that are housebound (an older aunt who doesn’t get out much). I know it may not be terribly fun for a toddler, but even if you get out for an hour it really helps. And I always feel better after one of these visits!

    1. @Denise (and SHU) – I think playdates could be good. One challenge is that most of the friends-with-kids I have have older kids (matching up with mine). I need to meet some new moms with just toddlers! The baby hasn’t really made many of his own friends yet (obviously).

  6. agree with the swimming. I guess a class would give you something specific to do and somewhere to go, but mine never really liked the organized activities at that age. They both LOVED the grocery store, though. win/win! maybe an indoor play spot with free play?total germfest but no more than please touch under 3 area!
    I’m tracking my time, just got a break so I am off to fill out what I remember from this morning.

  7. In the winter with toddlers I always did a rotation of indoor play places, pool, museums and something outdoor if the weather happened to permit. I find young toddlers (between 1-2) exhausting.

    Mine hated being confied to a cart. Constant screaming until they were freed always ensued. Therefore, errands with a toddler were a no-go. Some people can deal with their toddler screaming the entire time they are in public. I commend those people but I am not one of them.

  8. I’m pretty sure my 8-year-old was somewhere in the toddler years when I found your writing and was in the midst of a similar issue. My husband worked weekends and I found it awkward to schedule playdates on weekends with just another mom when most people were doing things as a family unit. I think the swimming is a great idea and a class that you don’t mind missing (if there’s something else going on that weekend) is good too.

  9. while there are less things out there for a one year old to do they also are easier to entertain.. there is the aquarium.. a gymboree type class, hit the ymca to enjoy the indoor pool..

  10. For toddler activities, have you tried a trampoline park? There is a Skyzone (and probably others) that might be near you, I know that Skyzone has a separate toddler area and some early morning toddlers-only hours. Advantages are that it is all-weather, drop-in and offers activity plus some social interaction with other parents/toddlers (but probably more palatable from the fourth-time mom perspective). I don’t have toddlers, but I appreciate that it’s something that all ages enjoy, so I can do it with any number/combination of my kids.

  11. Have you looked play cafes in your area? In the Portland suburbs, we go to Munchkin Playland. I can get a little work done and drink coffee while my toddler plays.

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