Diapers and Dragons

Friday, May 15, 2009

In Which I Panic And Use Many Capital Letters, Probably Both Unnecessarily, But I Don't Want To Repeat Horrific History Here, Folks




See, I just realized recently that Summer is only 3.5 weeks away (school-year speaking, which is what counts for me and the kidlets) and I have not yet really planned for this event! And this year I am determined NOT to sit around each day languishing on the couch while the kidlets mooch around zoned out of their minds because Mommy Is Depressed And Boring. They will be going to school (a.k.a. daycare, which is a Fun Place They Love, but we use Big Boy terminology) two days out of the week (also be determined and *ACK* haven't done that yet either--note to self, pin down ComputerDaddy about this) but there will be THREE other days to fill with non-boring things not counting the weekends.

And me? So NOT a preschool teacher. I mean, I have the plastic bin of craft stuff, but there's only so much time that can be filled with that sort of thing. And yes, I'll take them to the park and such, but I also want to do Fun Events like water park (for littles) days and visits to the Detroit Institute of Art and the Detroit Zoo and maybe Vacation Bible School if I can find a church that does that for kids under 5 (I love my church but it is apparently age-ist in that area) and swimming lessons and...

All this takes Planning.

Which is sending me spinning because I am, of course, building this up into a Massively Important Thing and if I fail then All Is Lost. And yes, I should probably talk to my therapist about that.

You have to understand that making this summer successful for myself and the kidlets is really important in terms of Turning Things Around. The last three summers have been Really Bad. The first one I had a newly-crawling DramaBoy and had just found out that I was very unexpectedly pregnant with The Widget. I didn't know how to keep DramaBoy very entertained, I was sick and exhausted, and I was terrified about the whole Having Two Kids thing. And I was depressed, though in denial about that aspect.

The second summer followed an intense period of Absolute Terror because here you go, girl, you've got a toddler and an infant and you're On Your Own. The highlights were Thursday mornings when I could take DramaBoy to daycare (he went two days a week during the summer, which saved my remaining sanity) and then drive infant Widget down to the Ann Arbor area, where I and my dear friend Katrina, who's oldest boyo is seven weeks older than The Widget*, would tote our wee ones to a movie theatre that showed new movies for parents and infants in the mornings. Cheaper tickets (babies free), slightly higher lighting so you could see the babies, lowered sound so their hearing wasn't damaged, diaper changing stations in the front, and no one who would care or judge if you whipped out a boob and nursed your child right in the room. Those hours were heaven. And then we'd go out to lunch together and have Adult (if frequently Mommy) conversation before I'd wend my reluctant way home to my regular life of depression and Being Overwhelmed. Though in denial about those aspects.

And last summer...last summer just Sucked. Both boys were too old and yet too young to go to infant movie mornings (no longer infants content to sleep and/or suckle, not yet school-age kids interested in sitting for an hour and a half to watch a whole movie). I was so depressed (though still in denial) and exhausted and lacking in motivation that we spent most days stuck inside, me on the couch watching hours of TV, kids wandering about playing with toys and getting very bored and whiny. The highlight of the summer was a day at the zoo with another friend and her two boys. And considering that was the hottest day of the summer and we spent most of the time staring at empty pens (the animals were hiding out, being smarter than us) and hanging out in the Arctic Circle display (which was cool and damp and has an awesome underwater tunnel where we could watch the seals and the polar bear, who was swimming in endless circles trying to keep cool as well)--that tells you how desperate I was.

I don't want my children to be stuck indoors all summer with a mother too depressed to play with them or make the day interesting and educational. Play time, with its emphasis on learning how to entertain oneself, is important, but it can't be the norm for every hour of every day. I'm still dealing with my depression, but there's the key--I'm DEALING with it. Acknowledging it, facing it, working with it, learning about it. I don't WANT to sit around the whole day. I admit, I fully intend to allow myself the occasional few hours of vegging on the couch--but I'll do that rarely and on the days the boys are in school, rather than when they're around.

But this all means I need to Plan, and I need to Prepare.

And that means I am Panicking.

Do you have some suggestions? Do you know of any specific child-friendly events or places to go (especially free or inexpensive) in the Metro-Detroit area? Do you want to hook up with our kids if you live in the area? Do you want to plan out my days for me? (Well, maybe not the last one, but the others at least....)

I'll be okay, really, but I don't object to your advice and help.

Which is saying a lot, actually. My admitting to panic and asking for help is kind of new.

Good for me.

*She told me she was pregnant and I offered her my maternity clothes to borrow, which she did gratefully. One week later I had to call her up and say Oops, sorry, gonna need those back.

10 bits of love:

Heidi said...

Having been a part-time stay-at-home mom for two years, I *highly* recommend finding at least one playgroup/friend with similarly-aged children that you can make a standing "date" with. If I was struggling with a depressive phase it made a HUGE difference to have someone who forced me out of the house (or who could just come over/invite us over) and interact.

Just a few Activities Ciaran Loves That Help Keep Us Busy [tm], if it's any help:

Inflatable pool in the back yard
The park
Baking (gingerbread men, etc.)
Helping me clean (washing windows is SUPER FUN!)
Watering plants/flowers

Dad said...

Well, it is not cheap, and getting there and back is a challeng, but there is always the possiblity of coming to Ferke where we could do all sorts of wonderful things. :-)
I know that it is not possible now, but you asked for some ideas.

The Kampers said...

You can do it! You can do it! Libraries are great fun...a lot of time they have a preschool story time, and a lot do special things in the summer...don't know what you have in your area.

Sidewalk chalk is grand! And the sprinkler...the sprinkler in the kiddy pool.

All of your tupperware out on the deck with water and just a touch of food coloring so that different containers have different colors, they can dump stuff back and forth and play science lab or whatever fun name you want to call it.

Paint brushes with water on the deck...they can 'paint' a picture and it will eventually evaporate.

A nature walk around the neighborhood...looking for things like ants, bugs, birds, squirrels, you know things you would see in the city.

Hope that all helps some. Again, You can do it!

Anonymous said...

Well, we're apartment-hunting tonight and tomorrow, but maybe by Sunday I can turn-on the pediatric social worker/day care teacher part of my brain and give you some great answers! I do love doing that. Maybe babysitting the baby on Sunday will bring back all those old ideas from TutorTime. Wait, wait, my favorite daily game in the Pre-K room is coming back to me!:

#1 - Make clean-up the room time a competition.
a. They have to beat their time (from earlier in the day or yesterday) or
b. beat the other kid on cleaning up their assigned section. OR
c. play music, and say if they have the room cleaned up by the time the music turns off, they get a prize (snack, perhaps?).

More to come!
- SoccerSister

Katrina said...

I was just thinking about this . . . give me a call and we can chat!

mom said...

Hey, writing this, you're already Dealing with it! Remember all the idea books I collected when you kids were young? I'll bet they have even better ones now -- and you are the Bookworm, so now you can have fun and go visit your library (if you're not ashamed to show up again:) ) or amazon (safer, except for your bank account) and get some mommy books. You know: recipes easy enough for kids to make, art projects, outdoor games, etc. You can do it, I know you can -- just reach into that Inner Child that used to direct all the playtime for your younger sister and your cousins!

Shelly said...

Well, I remember when my kiddo was small enough to enjoy Chuck E Cheese. We'd go right when they opened at like 9:30 am or something; best time to go b/c it's not crowded yet, and they have cleaned! Oh, and they usually try out all the games and leave the tickets in the machines for kids to grab! My son raked in a ton of tickets free that way. It's also pretty cheap to go there; buy a few tokens or just let them play on the indoor playground/slide/tunnel thing. As the kiddos get older, you can actually have some "me" time and bring a book and read for a few while they are off using up their tokens or climbing and sliding and using up all that energy!

I HIGHLY recommend the summer reading program at the library. They have wonderful activities; one year the zoo came to the library and we got to watch a snowy owl throw up! Fun stuff!

oreneta said...

Planning summer can be a hassle and a half, but, once it's done....

good luck. I think the advice about the playgroup is good, and maybe find a local park?

GingerB said...

I know it sounds hollow when the comment comes from the outside looking in but the fact that you are planning how to battle the depression seems to indicate that you are not that depressedthis year. If you were just planning to not have a plan, that would indicate a good wallow coming on, so you are way ahead of the game. In Salt Lake, we have community centers with youth art classes and such for really cheap, that I am envious of because working mommies can't really go, we just do the Saturdays, but they seem super flexible about letting sibs of different ages in the class even if it is set up for only one age range. We have a children's museum which is loads of fun, and an aviary. Cheap fun also includes a loaf of wonder bread and stopping off at a park with a duck pond. I'll keep thinking of ideas for you.

bsouth said...

I can't really add many more ideas to what has already come up (especially as I'm in the UK) but I really wanted to say well done you for getting to the planning stage. Depression with two children is no fun and it's great that you're dealing with it. I'm thinking of you and hope your summer goes really well. Take care of yourself.

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