Thursday, March 27, 2014

Get a life

2006 - eight years ago. This is what a pre-kid evening looked like.
When you are the parents of two small children, is it even possible to have a life outside of the kids? Everything we do is centered around our two little ones--centered around their naps, around their activity level, around their moods. A typical Thursday night involves a quick glance at the calendar and then the weather; what should we do this weekend? We make plans with friends that have kids. Events happen pre-nap or post-nap and they often include a stop at the playground, a kids' museum, or the zoo. We're back home promptly at six, in time for dinner and bed.


If we want to do something non-kid related, Hans or I go out after the girls have gone to sleep, separately, while one of us stays at home. On a rare occasion we'll get a babysitter and go out together. We look with envy at blogs of people cruising with kids; always remarking that "those kids have the best life."Actually, I think we're really thinking: "those parents have the best life." The parents are doing adult things and the kids are doing kid things. Side-by-side without organizing a playdate or going to a kid friendly event. Parallel play.*

It would be nice to weave in some more organic activities on the weekend. We do, of course, have to worry about naps and bedtime. Otherwise the kids are grumpy and grumpy kids make for grumpy parents. But there's got to be some middle ground. Our lives are so segregated right now and not only is that unhealthy for us, the adults, but it isn't natural for the kids to think that daily life revolves around them. We've fallen into a rut, one that I'm afraid will persist in the future: soccer Saturdays, weekly birthday parties, pizza dinners at 5pm. You get the picture.

There has been some buzz in one of my online communities around this article in The Atlantic, The Overprotected Kid. Parenting v.2014: planned playgroups, supervised activities, classes, sports teams, "safe" playgrounds. Parenting v.1988: My mom did her thing (which, in reality, was likely cleaning, laundry, and cooking) while I played outdoors, by myself or with my siblings or neighbors. I'm aiming to give Freja and Matilda a more 1988 version of childhood (with bike helmets, please) - imagination, free play, autonomous thinking.

One of the girls' favorite winter games: "cushion mountain."
My attempt to integrate a little free, imaginative play into their daily lives.
But we live in the city and the girls are very young. That time will come. In the meantime, we'll do what we can. Go for a hike on the weekend instead of the playground. Pack a picnic for the park. Be a little more flexible on the weekends with nap and bedtime.

Last night, as Hans and I plugged into our respective computers promptly at 8PM, he looked at me and said, "we've gotta get a life." Indeed.

*Written 100% tongue-in-cheek.

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