When I imagined being a stay-at-home mom, I had visions of arts and crafts days, outings to places like the zoo, aquarium and park and educational classes galore.
My social life would explode with a whirl of activities with other mommies, and I would end each day feeling like I was providing my child with a full and engaging life.
Flash forward to my current reality as a new stay-at-home mom in the metroplex. What I ™ve learned, and quickly, is that all those fun activities I imagined are great, but only if you are the mother of a toddler. My four-month old couldn't care less if she sees a giraffe at the zoo. In fact, she really doesn't care where we go or what we do, as long as she can do so with her newly discovered fists crammed in her mouth.
And don't get me started about how bleaping hot it is here. Having an infant in the summer in Texas is like being under house arrest. Any activity outdoors is immediately dismissed due to the fact that while it is not exactly enjoyable to find yourself sweating buckets, having a sweaty and therefore cranky infant is even less enjoyable. This summer, the most engaging activity I look forward to is an outing to the mall where I can spend several hours just strolling around in air-conditioning. How far I ™ve fallen.
Lucky for me, baby Kate is super entertained and impressed by the small stuff. A new teething ring, a brightly colored sock, her feet. And while MY life is slightly less exciting than I imagined, I ™ve been amazed to find that I have actually become super impressed by the small stuff too, like Kate's fascination with a new teething ring, a brightly colored sock and her feet.
But on those days that I do decide to brave the elements, if only to save my sanity by getting out of the house, here are a few things to do with an infant. Mothers of toddlers, beware. Most of these activities require a companion that can't crawl and/or get into things.
Mall Strolling: Okay, I ™ve already said it, but spending several hours at the mall is therapeutic, even when you are on a budget and only get to look, not touch. Besides being air-conditioned, the mall often has great locations to change diapers, nurse or grab a snack. Personally, I gravitate towards any mall that has a Nordstroms in it, thanks to their fantastic women's lounges. And Kate alternately gets to nap, feed and look at pretty things, which she always enjoys.
Coffee Houses: Maybe your infant is different, but Kate loves to people watch. At times when mommy is no longer interesting and my bag of tricks has run dry, taking Kate out someplace to just sit and observe often makes her day. I personally like to take her someplace that I can get wi-fi and squeeze in a little work while she goggles at all the different kinds of people. Panera, Starbucks or your local coffee shop is nearly always an eye-candy fest for baby.
Classes: There are a ton of classes in the metroplex, both baby-focused activities like Kindermusik or Little Gym, or mommy-focused classes like baby wearing or signing. I have to admit I haven't taken advantage of these just yet, mainly because when I looked into the cost of Kindermusik I decided I could buy a CD and a tambourine and sing to Kate for a total of $19.95 instead of spending the fairly exorbitant amount of money to do it in public instead of in my house. Did I mention I have been called cheap by certain people? However, that said, I know several people who take their babies to classes and love it. Also, a lot of the parent-focused classes are free which really gets me excited! Pottery Barn Kids even has events and decorating classes each month that are all free, just get on their email list to be notified.
The Gym: If your gym has a daycare, take advantage of it! As a stay-at-home parent, I enjoy the fact that Kate is exposed to other children/babies/caretakers when she goes to the gym. I feel like I ™m doing something good for her and for me. And trust me, I don't always feel like working out. Just yesterday I took a good book to the gym and spent 45 minutes on a bike, pedaling as slow as humanly possible and enjoying some me time while Kate played with (okay, stared at) the other children. I have another girlfriend who uses the gym daycare to get a nice long shower some days instead of her typical 3.5 minute shower she has to take at home.
Liz Edelbrock is a writer and blogger who enjoys sharing her misadventures as a wife and mother with anyone who can learn from her mistakes! Follow her antics daily on The Edel Spot.