A few weeks ago, I got a text from a non-mom friend telling me that she had friends coming to visit and asking for recommendations for any “kid-friendly” activities around town. “Like breweries,” she explained. I jumped to text back, eager to show my knowledge of all the fun, local, adult activities she could do with her friend’s kids in tow, when I suddenly realized I was drawing a blank. How was this possible? Aren’t I an authority on all things fun and kid-friendly? Don’t we do fun things every weekend with my toddler and his friends and their parents? And then it dawned on me – we do fun kid things.
We are a family that does adult-friendly kid activities, rather than the other way around.
I started to examine our weekly routines – most mornings we’ll hit a playground early to beat the heat and then head to The Parenting Center or a Kindermusik class, maybe go to DEFY New Orleans for their toddler hour or the Audubon Zoo if we’re feeling ambitious. On the weekends, you’ll find us at the Louisiana Children’s Museum or over at one of the city’s awesome splash pads. If we go to a museum, it’s likely for a Young Audience’s Baby Artsplay event – rather than to take in the actual art. If we wind up at the mall, I guarantee it’s for the Kid’s Castle instead of shopping. Sure, we go to festivals … but only ones with well thought out children’s areas.
Any errands – like grocery shopping or dry cleaning – are done en route to or from some child-centered activity and always scheduled around when our son needs to eat, sleep, potty, etc. In fact, the most “kid-friendly” adult activity my husband and I engage in is when we have to go to Lowe’s and bring our toddler along to ride on the tractor. Not once in the past two years of parenthood do I remember either of us asking “What do you want to do today?” and the response being something like “Grab a beer, let’s bring the kid” or “Go take in the new Ogden exhibit, put him in the stroller.”
This wasn’t a conscious parenting choice, it just happened over time. Our son is happy and easy-going, hitting his milestones, doing well, so it seemed natural to keep him engaged in fun activities that aided his development. Of course, part of this is that I’ve had the luxury to be a stay at home parent to one child for nearly two years and that my husband and I happen to fall on the exact same place on the parenting spectrum. Neither of us feel as if we’re missing out or doing ourselves a disservice. We feel that this period of time is so short, we would rather spend it pursuing what we believe is best for our son.
Then I got to thinking – isn’t is equally important to teach your child that the world does not revolve entirely around them and their needs?
Wouldn’t it be beneficial for him to see that sometimes, you have to be patient? That there are times – and often – when your wants or needs must play second-fiddle to your other family members (or friends … or strangers)? With a new sibling on the way, there’s no better time to start exercising a little more control over the activities we do as a family to help him learn that not every day can be jam packed with fun geared specifically towards him. So, we started little by little to work some of these new “adult activities” into his routine. We’ll go to the Besthoff Sculpture Garden because I’d like to see it or play a “Mama vs. Daddy” round of golf at City Putt. If beignets happen after at the new Cafe du Monde then hey! All the better for everyone. I bring him with me to my midwife appointments and if we’re out of something I need at the store, no more waiting for the weekend so I can go while my husband takes him somewhere else to play.
We’re a long way from taking our baby on a bar crawl (no judgement – go for it!) or a sporting event that starts after bedtime, but if we want to try a new restaurant for lunch that – gasp! – doesn’t have a kids menu, we’re going to give it a go because we would like to do it, and because in the end, it’s good for our child too. A healthy family dynamic falls somewhere in the middle between 100% adult-friendly kid activities and 100% kid-friendly adult activities, and we’re learning where our family fits best. For now, we’re closer to one end than the other – and we’re all okay with that.