Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Off the Road

There's been a lot of fun links over at i have to say's Back to Homeschool week as people tell various things about their homeschooling journey. Today's topic is getting out and about, which reminds me that we do not.

Yes, the ducklings are small. But it seems like even people with very small children have them enrolled in music classes or gymnastics or second language programs. Or they have zoo and museum memberships. Or they schedule frequent play dates. Or all of the above.

The very thought makes me tired. Especially right now, when the only activity that sounds fun is lying on the basement floor, pouring ice water over my head. But even in more clement weather, loading up the diaper bag and strapping everyone into the car is usually a long way down on my list of Fun Things to Do.

It's probably a warped view from my childhood. My mother had narcolepsy, so she did not drive if she could help it. We had twenty-two acres to play on, and we had each other to play with, and if we were bored there was a very long list of chores to do. Taking a trip out was reserved for the dentist and the doctor once or twice a year.

We tried doing story time at the library. First we went to the active-song time for 18-36 month olds, to which all the Hip Young Mamas go. It was fun, and it did inspire D1 to try some novel things like jumping. (She was not physically adventuresome when she was smaller. Now she likes to climb eight feet up.) But there were usually more than thirty kids, plus parents, and it was crowded and overwhelming. The ducklings love playing with a couple of other small children; they do not like large crowds of small children. I don't blame them. Small children and large crowds don't mix well.

The other story time was smaller, quieter, attended mostly by grandmas, and involved actually reading books. The ducklings liked it, mostly because they were allowed to color with markers. I did not like getting the marker off of their clothes (which is why they use crayons and colored pencils at home--also better for finger strength). The book selection was usually not too impressive, either.

Anyway, the whole matter was settled several weeks ago when we sold our second car and decided to just do without for a while. Now I don't need to worry about whether I should be taking them out for more Stimulating Events, because I can't. We take an evening out as a family to a park or library once a week, and we go to church.

There is still the park to walk to, and if we can't watch the animals at the zoo, we can learn a lot about the habits of squirrels and rabbits. We may miss out on group classes, but maybe we'll have the chance to get to know the kids who live on our street. (It's hard, though, because they're not home much. But someone has to be available.)

We still don't know the names of all the weeds that grow in our backyard, or the kinds of birds that hide in the bushes. We can't go to a farmers' market, but we could grow more things ourselves. They are missing out on high-energy-tons-of-kids social opportunities, but they are getting lots of chances to learn to play well together.

I'm sure there's lots of good things we could be doing, and probably someday we will, but I think for now we'll do just fine as it is.


Rose said...

After Jane was born I made a point to get outside of the house every single day to ward off the inevitable blue funk. It never descended. With two kids, I find that the stress of coordinating naps, feedings, diaper bags, and straps on car seats leads to more angst than prowling around the house. If I need to improve my mood, I put lipstick on.

We do have a play group, though, and that's very fun, but only because it's a small crowd. Large crowds of kids get very unruly, stress me out, and make my children feel cranky. Also, it's only once a week; I can't imagine a slew of activities and appointments every single day.

I wish things were closer to us so we could walk or bicycle everywhere. I'd do all my shopping on foot if there were sidewalks to the Kroger.

the Joneses said...

When my kids were your kids' ages, we finally got a second vehicle, and my world suddenly opened up and was wonderful. I did about two years of playgroups, mall, shopping, MOMS Club, etc. For me, it was worth the diaper bag and carseats just to visit with other people.

But now... not so much. It's not at all worth the hassle of dragging three kids out. We spend most of our days at home. It helps that we've got neighbors so can visit without having to drive anywhere (I would make a very bad hermit).

I'm glad you can be happy at home, though. It's special for kids to have everyday life be their own home.

-- SJ

Queen of Carrots said...

I'm not promising I'll feel this good about it come next February. Although August is almost as isolating--at least for me. But yeah, I'm basically a homebody. I like people, but I prefer them to be the same people. I do hope we can get to know our neighbors better.

We do have a grocery store within walking distance, but I've never actually walked down there to shop because the prices and selection are such we only use it for last-minute quick things--and then walking is too slow.

Ben, Kyri & Rachelle said...

Like you I would rather stay home. And we are a single car family too. However, at the end of the day I do much better if I get out of the house alone. M is good to watch the kids while I grocery shop, hit the gym, or just go make an ATM deposit and return a movie. My perspective on motherhood is always better when I return. But you don't know how it encourages me to read: "The very thought makes me tired." Putting much the thought of doing anything makes me tired most days. -rlr

Ben, Kyri & Rachelle said...

...including checking my comment for errors before I post it. That should have been "pretty much" not "putting much...." Where on earth did that come from?-rlr

Carrie said...

=) Well, I seem to be a half-and-half person. I really feel better about life in generally if I can escape from the house at least every other day. I just need a break.

On the other hand, getting Joshua out and about is hard most of the time because this kid has no schedule. He heard me reading Babywise before he was born and laughed in the womb. "Waa haa haaa . . . I'll show her!" Nothing is ever predictable and I don't get mothers who can time their days so well. We can't and we don't.

We went to story time when it wasn't during nap time. That changes on a weekly basis. We didn't go when he didn't care about the kids. Now he does but he's had a cold for three weeks so we haven't gone at all.

I'm going stir crazy now but the idea of lugging him about keeps me home bound. However, I'm with Rachelle -- I could do with that "Time away while Daddy plays" this evening!

Meredith said...

I did a lot of unstructured "out and about" with Andrew. For five years, he was an only child. He needed distraction and company.

With 2, I'm finding it a lot more fun to stay home and enjoy one another.

Eric and Wendy said...

I'm with you on this one. I don't think little kids need to be out and about. I found the only thing the little ones pick up more easily when they are out is new illnesses!

I do a co-op for a half day for the bigger kids, but when the kids are small, Home Making Messes with Mom is way the place to be!

Outings are tiring, but it gets much easier as they get older, even if you have more kids. I would say having 6 kids 10 years through 3 months is easier than having 2 very small ones.