I know I've mentioned it on here before, but Oliver and I love going to the park. Parks are the saving grace to the stay-at-home-mom. Why? Because an outing at the park takes time and burns energy. Let me explain. First, if your park is big like ours, you can take a long walk, which gives you the exercise you so desperately need. Your child is in the stroller, looking out at the beautiful scenery and breathing fresh air, and most importantly, not whining at you or climbing all over you or begging you to read that book again for the 87th time that day. You're together, but separate. You can be alone in your thoughts, and dream up blog posts, dinner ideas, or just daydream about sitting with a cool drink by a body of water somewhere. Or if you're lucky enough to have a friend along, you can talk...to an actual adult.
When you've had enough exercise, if your child is of walking age as mine is, you can let him loose. This is important, because it meets both requirements: it takes time and burns energy. You will be thankful for this later in the day when they take a nice, long nap. Hey, I'm not entirely selfish. It is also important to their physical and intellectual development. For example, my son. He loves to walk, and lately he's even been running more than walking a lot of the time (must take after daddy!). But he also has a toddler's curiosity. So we walk, and then we stop and look at things. He examines every tree, boulder, and bench along our path, in great detail and from every angle. He picks up all the interesting sticks, rocks, and leaves found along the way. Better yet, combine these: poke the knothole in the bench with a stick and he's happy for hours! Oh, and don't forget the acorns, which are his favorite thing ever. Also, our park has a lot of small memorials with plaques, which he loves to stop to peruse and recite every letter. My advice: Try not to get frustrated with the slow pace of this portion of your walk -- remember, it wastes time, which is good. And most importantly, he's a toddler doing his job: exploring his world!
The third phase of a good day at the park begins when you finally arrive at the play area. If you are lucky, you'll have a playground with lots of swings and low slides, that are perfect for toddlers. I love our park, but my one big complaint is that the playground area is geared for older kids. Aren't they in school??? No swings, and there's even a sign that says you have to be over 5 to play on it. Oliver wants to play on it anyway. This entails me climbing around after him to keep him from jumping off 15 foot high platforms. He's too young for it, and I'm too old for it . . . so that's fun.
If you've had a good day at the park, you've burned a good amount of energy, as well as several hours of the morning. If you time it right, you head home just in time for lunch, which is followed soon after by a nap. Just like that, half your day taken care of!
Since we've just had our first big snowfall and the weather is turning colder, I'm afraid that our park visits will be less frequent and this makes me sad, and yes, a little panicked. I hope we can bundle up and try to enjoy it once winter really hits, but I know the reality is that we'll be stuck inside and I'll be forced to haul myself over to the gym and get on the treadmill. I know I shouldn't complain, because I know winters in Connecticut are far superior to those in Iowa. Still, I'm starting to think like Marty (scary!) and wish they had sent him to Florida for a project!
So in honor of all of our happy days at the park, here are some park photos from the past few months:
On the boardwalk overlooking the creek
Giving Annabelle (our neighbor) a leaf
Examining a tree
Dad joins us on the weekends sometimes
Quack! Quack! Quack!
Climbing on the bench
Examining the bench
Still examining the bench
Walking (with stick)