I grew up in a neighborhood where my parents could let all of us kids out of the house and into the neighborhood without many fears of bad things happening. My sisters and I all had friends up and down that street and we all got along and we all spent most of our days outside.
That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. We can let Addie loose out into the circle and occasionally we let her walk two houses further to one of her friend’s houses, but for most of the time we have to be with Addie and Vivi when they want out of the house. Just as it is important that Casey get out of the house on occasion, it is probably even more important that our kids get out of the house as well. For both their sakes and my sake.
Here’s what I have noticed during my stints as a temporary single parent over the past year. Taking the kids, especially Vivi, to the park or even just to the store makes parenting much easier. Sure, there’s the initial packing everything into a diaper bag and loading the kids into the car, which can be a nightmare for parents like me who don’t do the packing and loading thing all that often, but the rewards far outweigh that burden.
Deciding whether to pack up the kids or to sit at home trying to find activities is a pretty easy decision for me, because spending a full day one-on-one with just Vivi can be pretty difficult. The baby (alright, she’s a toddler but I don’t like admitting it) doesn’t like to play with her toys and she gets bored pretty easily, and there’s only so much Sesame Street that she can watch before I feel guilty for plopping her in front of the TV. There are all kinds of easy places that I can take this little one that aren’t even baby or kid oriented that will keep her fascinated and entertained. Using the afternoon to go to a local Best Buy without any real purpose other than to let Vivi play with all the cellphones has been a great way to keep Vivi entertained and to give me some relief from trying to constantly entertain her. Plus, I get to daydream about the TV I have been promising myself for the last three years that I will eventually buy and put in my family’s loft (or my bedroom).
I’ve also taken the kid to Walmart so we can take a walk down the Oreo Cookie aisle followed by a little stop in the toy aisles. It has always worked like a charm and Vivi comes away entertained and I usually end up with Oreo Cookies, that’s what we call a win/win. (Unless those Oreo Cookies are the new Candy Corn Oreos, those aren’t nearly as good as I expected them to be.)
The Best Buy strategy hasn’t always worked with Addie however, because she isn’t interested in playing with all the cellphones at Best Buy. She already knows the cellphones at the store aren’t toys and she doesn’t care about the latest and greatest in TV land. In fact, she hates going to what she calls the “daddy store.” When that happens I just adjust and we take a trip to a pet shop, the Humane Society, or a Halloween store. Addie gets some time out of the house and away from the TV, and I get to decide which mask I’m going to secretly buy so I can scare the crap out of Addie when I wake her up for school on Halloween morning.
More on Dadding: