I know I sound like a broken record, but I’ll just say it one more time — we had one heck of an amazing summer. But now that my puffy vest has come out of the closet, pumpkin muffins have been baked, and a half-empty jug of apple cider sits in my fridge, I can happily say that I am fully embracing fall’s arrival. We are looking forward to apple picking, bundling up for breezy walks around the lake, candy and costumes, and of course the arrival of our newest family member.
Fall is probably my favorite time of year. It contains so many of the things I love, and for whatever reason also seems to be the season that I tend to have babies. (So far!) But in Seattle, like so many other places, fall also brings a turn in weather that leads to many long months of days spent indoors with restless children.
The first fall and winter I spent with Cullen, he was a newborn and I was happy to hunker down inside and hibernate as we got to know each other. Last year was another story. I was restless, irritable, and completely drained by trying to entertain a one-year-old in a space that wasn’t well equipped, and without enough tools and resources. This year, I’m hoping things will be different. Live and learn, right?
Here are a few of the ways we’re looking ahead toward the indoor season and doing our best to get ready!
Gettin’ ready… 1 of 13
After spending the past few months on playgrounds and in the sunshine all day long, we're gearing up for a winter season spent indoors. Click through to see how we're getting ready!
Encouraging imaginary (and independent) play 2 of 13
As the weather cools down and we're inside a lot more, it's critical that Cullen be able to entertain and occupy himself during part of our playtime. I'm going to have my hands full with a new baby, and I'll need Cullen to give me a bit of space to be able to tend to his needs as well. Luckily, he's already a pretty independent little guy and his sense of creativity and imagination seems to be growing every day. He has started using characters, figurines, and stuffed animals in adorable imaginary ways, and it's fun to see his personality to continue to develop through his style of play.
Music and dancing 3 of 13
Obviously we hope Cullen will develop his own interests and talents as he continues to get older, but in the meantime we're trying to steer him in the direction of things that seem like a good fit for him so far. One of those is encouraging an interest in music. So far he has his own little guitar and a keyboard he loves to bang on, and we play music in the house during most mornings and evenings. He loves to dance, and I can't wait until he starts singing songs along with me!
Fun indoor city adventures 4 of 13
We spend so much of the summer months exploring all our local parks and beaches, but there are plenty of wonderful things to do indoors in our city too. We have memberships to some great museums with big toddler areas and there are a number of good indoor play centers and community rooms we can use as well. We can also do fun, easy (free!) things like taking Cullen for a ride on the bus one of his favorite activities!
Lots of new books! 5 of 13
I try not to buy a crazy amount of new toys for our house. I try to stick to the basics of what I know Cullen will like, and not go beyond that into excess. Honestly, I hate the clutter and mess that too many toys create, and I also think it's overwhelming to kids to have too many choices. But one thing I think we can never have too many of is books. On rainy afternoons, I like to take Cullen to the local library to read some new titles, and we also do a lot of story times and playing at local bookstores. I want him to grow up understanding that while he doesn't need a million "things" and toys, he is always allowed to get a new book (within reason, of course).
Organized and interesting play spaces 6 of 13
My husband teases me about the amount of time and energy I invest into creating, organizing, and cleaning up our house specifically, the toddler zones. But as a stay-at-home mom, we are home a LOT, so it's really important for us to have a space that is functional and practical. And of course, as toddlers age and new kids enter the mix, those needs change as well. As we prepare for winter and the arrival of a new baby, I'm in nesting overdrive trying to get Cullen's room and our playroom in the best shape possible. This means organized toy areas, low shelves that are accessible to tiny people, and enough space to stretch legs and burn energy when needed.
A trusty raincoat! 7 of 13
Of course, not every day can be spent indoors, and in Seattle this means embracing that sometimes you are going to get wet. Cullen has his first raincoat this year, and I expect we will be putting it to good use. Next up finding a sturdy pair of rain boots!
An art table and art supplies 8 of 13
Our playroom has a big activity table that is the perfect height for Cullen to stand at for playing, snacking, and drawing. We recently installed the paper roll accessory so now I can also stretch a big piece of craft paper over the whole counter top. We have finally reached the age where he is less likely to want to eat all of his crayons and markers, which means we are having more success with arts and crafts than we have in the past. We plan to fill dad's office walls with plenty of art projects this winter!
A sensory scooping station 9 of 13
For whatever reason, Cullen absolutely loves to scoop and pour things. All summer long, if we weren't digging and scooping at a local beach, we were most likely filling trucks and buckets at a neighborhood sandbox. Since the playgrounds and sandboxes are headed toward the soggy season, we are doing more indoor scooping these days. Cullen has a big bean box, as well as a box filled with dried pasta noodles, and he loves to scoop, pour, and sort them in his playroom. I have even considered bringing his water table indoors for the winter and filling it up with sand (or beans?), but I can't decide if I'm brave enough to do it quite yet...
Bringing some of the great outdoors inside 10 of 13
While the water table remains temporarily banished to the garage, a few of our other favorite outdoor items have already made their way inside. I cleaned off Cullen's cozy coupe car and ride-on tractor and brought them into the house for him to wheel around on. We have enough open space in our living room and circular floor plan that he can still have plenty of fun riding around inside in fact, I think it's probably easier for him to push and drive things on the sleek hardwood floors. A plastic tractor was not part of my original vision for my living room decor, but you do what you have to do, right?
Helping mom with cooking and baking 11 of 13
I absolutely love cooking and baking, but I've found it to be quite a bit more challenging to fit in now that I have a toddler hanging around at my ankles. With that said, Cullen is just starting to get to the age where I think he can help and enjoy cooking with me. Like I said, the kid loves to scoop, so why not hand him a measuring cup and get going, right? We are looking forward to lots of yummy baking this holiday season.
Starting preschool and fall programs 12 of 13
For as much as I'm trying to prep and organize our home space, I'm also trying to make sure we don't feel trapped in the house all day long. Cullen is almost two, and is definitely ready for more structured play, group activities, and new teachers. This fall, he'll be doing two mornings of preschool each week, in addition to other things like an art class and a toddler soccer program. I fully recognize that I can no longer provide his sole instruction and entertainment, and it's really wonderful to watch him thrive in all these new environments and programs.
Taking advantage of all the fresh air we can get! 13 of 13
We are lucky that even though our winter is very rainy, it's not actually all that cold. So when the rain does let up (which it really does do, despite the reputation), we'll try to get outside every chance we get. We have strollers and raincoats and a couple of tough attitudes, and we'll still make sure to get out for some air and sunshine whenever possible. Here's hoping we even get a snowstorm or two!