Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm just going to start off by saying that, although I try very hard to be economical and buy generic laundry detergent and/or what is on sale, I really just love the smell of Tide best. And I think that when I'm barely eating, dragging my ass to the gym, and held hostage indoors by cold, gray weather, I deserve some good-smelling laundry detergent.

This was my way of segueing into a discussion of how it is only mid-October and the weather is really bumming me out. I know the winter is sucky, and each year I brace myself for that. It's just that I don't think we should have to deal with wintery weather in mid-October. I remember last year, the kids were sweating in their costumes while trick-or-treating, while we parents were wearing short sleeves. Of course, last year the winter started late and ended late. Maybe this year when the winter is starting early ...

Except it doesn't really work like that. There are no patterns in the weather. Or maybe there are, at the technical level of cold fronts and high pressure systems, but to the layperson the weather appears to be very random and erratic.

Anyway, my point is, I'm finding myself already having to dip into my arsenal of indoor entertainment activities.

If you don't live in Chicago or some other crap-tacular climate, let me give you a brief summary of our weather. For a few months out of the year, you can engage in warm-weather activities. These activities are usually free, local, and easy. I'm talking about your pools, your parks, your splash pads. When you need to kill that awkward hour between naptime and dinner prep, you can just pop over to the park. (And if you've never been to my house, let me just tell you that there is a gigantic park that is literally our backyard.) It's all very simple and hassle-free. In contrast, winter activities tend to involve a lot of driving, pain-in-the-ass parking, and entrance fees. And there's just something inherently more stressful about being crammed in a hot, dry room with a bunch of children trying to release their pent-up energy, all while schlepping around winter clothing.

And now here we are, faced with these indoor entertainment options. Since they're generally pretty time- and energy-consuming, and since I'm sort of out of the swing of indoor activities, more often than not we are now opting to spend our free time at home. Now, the idea of hunkering down on a cold, gray day in your sweats and snuggling with your kitty sounds nice ... until you throw in a toddler. Because there really is no "free time" when you have a toddler. So hours upon hours at home equals hours upon hours of sitting on the floor playing with some sort of small vehicle or another.

To be honest, free play on the floor with my child is not my strong suit as a parent. Oh sure, I can build a pretty kick-ass wooden train track setup, but that gets really old, really fast. I prefer to throw in some sort of outside-the-home stimulus to get my parenting going. You know what I mean: it's just easier to facilitate those teachable moments when, say, you're on a walk or something. Stuck at home all the time, I get bored. And the minutes slowly tick by.

So I'm in a weather-induced funk. I know eventually I'll hit my stride and find a good combination of indoor activities to keep the child and myself entertained. But right now I'm still reeling about not being able to go to the park.