Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mommy/daughter day

I wasn't working today, so I took Melly to a local pool. She really, really likes that pool. But it's not heated, so I mostly just sit in the water and slowly turn blue.

While we were "swimming," I ran into a one year old girl with her nanny. I was chatting with her a bit, while she bounced the baby around.

Me: "She looks like she likes the pool."

Nanny: "Yeah, she does. But her parents can't take her in it because they're both doctors and don't have time."

Me: "..."

Nanny: "Well, I guess they could take her on the weekend maybe."

I was tempted to say something, but I didn't.

Anyway, for the first time in over three years, I have a day off during the week to spend with my daughter. It's heaven. It's what I've always wanted. Except I'm not sure what the hell to do with her all day.

Last week it was too cold for the pool, so things really got crazy. We went to this tiny park nearby and acted out the following scenario:

Melly: "I'm Supergirl. You be Superman. I have to rescue you."

Me: "I'm Superman. Help me, Supergirl! Save me!"

Melly: "Here I am to save you!"

Repeat x 10 million

After less than an hour in the park, I was ready to shoot myself in the head. We ended up fighting a lot and I eventually just plopped her down in front of the television.

This week was better. We had the pool, we did laundry, then we drove to the supermarket and bought cookie ingredients to bake cookies from scratch. It was actually really fun till Melly decided she wanted to eat all the cookies immediately and stormed off to her room, declaring she didn't like me anymore.

Those of you who spend days alone with your preschoolers, what do you do to entertain them? I don't want to take any long excursions because she hates the car, but there must be something we can do to entertain ourselves all day. Maybe more recipes that are mommy/daughter friendly?


  1. Taking a walk. Seriously, my kids always saw the best stuff and we had the best talks on regular walks, not really going anywhere special. A cheap digital camera, taking crazy pictures and laughing at them.

    Home made play dough made with koolaid.

    I'm sure I'll think of more.

  2. When my kids were growing up we had every Wednesday afternoon, which they still remember warmly. The library, especially story time at the library. Lunch in the park (even if it's fast food). The playground in the park. The science museum. Picking blueberries/peaches/etc. according to season. Craft projects like making bread dough ornaments at Christmas, pencil cans, stuff like that. Taking a walk, like C said. Even going to the movies if there's something kid appropriate. Making cookies, even if she's so little you just do the refigerator ones. I think what mostly matters is that you are spending time with her more than what you do.

  3. When my kids were preschoolers I only had weekends, too. I was alone with them a lot, and here is what I did:

    Baths, park, play-dough, library, bookstore, bake banana bread (same thing every week - they loved it - sometimes we added chocolate chips), parades around the house.

    Sicily was never much for it, but Jack LOVED - and still does - to clean. I got him a small spray bottle full of water and he would go to town on the windows forever. Now at 5 he uses Windex. He also loves all procedural-related things around the house - starting the microwave, making the coffee, opening cans with can openers, running the dustbuster - every mundane thing is such a wonder it cracks me up (and he throws a fit if he catches me doing it without him). Sicily is largely clueless about the functional world around her - at 7, she much prefers her art, music, and books.

    Ha ha! Last week was too cool for the pool??!! It has been over a hundred where I live forever - last week when I was off with kids we sought every excuse to stay indoors and I found indoor activities. Do you live in Antarctica? I'm jealous! Luckily I'm back in the frigid lab with my space heater this week.

  4. Oh, I just remembered a big hit. Pet store. They could look at the fishes, birds, and gerbils forever.

  5. I like this website for craft ideas


  6. Tea parties, reading together, finger painting, simple board games (CandyLand and such). I've never had the patience for structured crafts, but free art time is always a hit. Oooh, playing with shaving cream is always fun, too. Gizabeth's comment reminded me we used to take my son to the pet shot and we called it the indoor zoo!

  7. Fizzy, I am reminded of one of your posts way back about not wanting (yet?? ever??) another child. My 3 kids were all born within a total of 4 yrs, so the truth is that they play with each other a lot and probably make a lot fewer demands on us to play with them than they would if we only had 1. Just sayin'... ;)

    But still, we go on lots of outings--science center, kids' museum, aquarium, zoo, pool, playground, and pick-your-own fruit places (this last is a weekly event during the summer/fall). In terms of things within the house, playing dress-up is big, as are art/craft projects. There is a book that is a little annoying in its tone, but has a lot of great ideas for activities based upon your kids' age (one per week from birth to age 5). I have found it to be right on; my kids have consistently enjoyed the recommended activities at the relevant age. It is called "Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready".

    Kids love routines. For example, we do "cookies and bookies" once a week at bedtime--bake cookies, then read our bedtime books downstairs in the kitchen while we have cookies--and to hear our kids talk about it, you would think this was the most fantastic and unique idea any parent had ever invented. If you start some named tradition to do with her on your day off, I would bet that she will love it no matter what it is.

  8. What? You plopped her down in front of the television?

    Please.. she does not need to be dumbed down by that box!

  9. It can be tough. We have done the requisite baking and crafts. I found a local bowling alley that has lanes for kids(no gutters) and the local ice rink is great for a hot day. Love the pet shop but a zoo membership let's us go hour even 1-2 hours without guilt. My girls love helping grocery shopping-we start with the recipe at home and they write the items on the list. When they were preschoolers they drew the pictures of the items. Then we shopped then we would come home to cook it and eat.

  10. Thanks everyone for the ideas!

    Giz: I live pretty far up north :)

    Tempeh: Thanks for the book recommendation. Also, I get your point, but I still feel panic at the idea of having another child right now.

    Anon @ 3:52: Thanks for the judgement! Nobody made any obnoxious judgemental comments on my last post and I thought the world was coming to an end!

  11. My neighbors used to do chalk drawings on the sidewalk in front of the house. Other than that, I'm of no help whatsoever. I think the zoo sounds like an awesome idea.

  12. Oh--this is so funny and true. I hate crafts and cooking so that eliminates a lot of time-killing things you can do with preschoolers. I rely on the park, library, and--the horror--nickjr.

  13. My mother used to make Peanut Butter Play Dough. It's easy, fast, and she can eat or play with it immediately. I don't have my mother's recipe but I found one online. http://www.makeandtakes.com/edible-playdough-you-will-want-to-eat

  14. You could help her set up a lemonade stand in your neighborhood.

    Sheet tent/forts. You know, the kind where you get out sheets and towels and drap them across the furniture and crawl underneath.

    Pack a picnic lunch and go to the park. Eating takes time and then you can play for a while.

    Finger painting.

    Paint your own pottery places.

    Put on music and dance.

    Blow up a bunch of balloons and make a balloon room. Take turns running through all the balloons, kicking them, play "don't hit the lava" etc.

    Make up obstacle courses with little things around the house and play "don't touch the lava"

    Pet store, definitely.

  15. i don't have kids, but i babysat a lot as a teenager, and now i watch my nieces and nephew sometimes. you can try geocaching on those long walks. it's essentially a gps scavenger hunt, and it's TONS of fun. some are hard, some are easier, and you can even hide a few of your own then go check the logs! i LOVE doing this with them, they go crazy looking and it's so much fun to actually find stuff. take a camera so you can document your treasures :)


  16. Go for walks, definitely. Infinite variety every day, and exercise to boot.

    Imaginative play is so important for kids this age, so whatever you do to reinforce that is gold. Play kitchens, building forts, dress up, etc.

    Play some of the classic kids' games with them. Snailspace is a good game for littles, and Trouble is always fun (you can let them make up the rules if they are too little for traditional rules).

    Drawing with chalk on the sidewalks, watering the garden, free-form drawing or play-dough.

    Sometimes it really IS exhausting listening to the constant little-kid chatter and doing the same old thing over and over. Playdates with other kids are helpful with that because they get to do imaginative play with each other, you get adult talk time with other parents, and you are still spending good memorable time with your child.

    You'll find what works for you.

  17. let her act out her favorite book.

    i signed up for a music class for both my kids on my day off- it was great. i loved it but didn't have to think about what to do, but felt totally focused on them for 45 minutes without distraction. then we'd go grocery shopping or to target or the dry cleaner... both my boys loved it. a little bit of non-medical adult conversation too...(not much :-))

    library is great - story time sometimes.

    my littlest favorite thing to do with me when his big brother in school was to go to friendly's for lunch... sometimes we'd meet a friend with a kid - he loves it.

    go for a hike or look for creatures near a stream. we go to a nearby nature center at least once per week. sign up for mailing lists - often there would be some fun activity to sign up for on one of my days off.

    it is okay to want a little down time for you on your day off. television is not evil. my kids love books on cd - can get them out of the library and it gives me a 1/2 hour to veg. favorites are anything by arnold lobel, magic tree house, amelia bedelia

  18. Maybe you need to accept that young children can be mind-numbingly boring and repetitious at times...and that not every second together has to be "quality time". What would you do if she wasn't there? My kids learned to sort socks, help mop, let the dog out, cook a meal....just the day to day trivia of life!

    Pattie, RN

  19. Card Games: Crazy Eights, Go Fish - check out www.kellyskindergarten for fun academic games.

    Coloring: Break out the Crayolas and the coloring book. Or even just get a big pad of paper and draw paper.

    Outings: Find the ethic markets in your town and eat, eat, eat! Love the library, zoo, museum (art, firefighters, science, history).

    Classes: Enroll her in a mom and me dance class, or swim class.

    Other: Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, puzzles, cards, etc. Target dollar aisle is amazing for inexpensive goodies.

  20. Art museum
    Ride the bus
    Baby yoga
    Hiking in the park
    Find some moms groups in the area (be a SAHM for a day)

  21. Coming late -- but don't beat yourself up too much. I think it can be harder to just have that one day off per week than a few, where you kind of feel more pressured to do stuff and don't really have a rhythm down the way you would if you were doing it a few times a week.

    I would say, figure out what kind of day *you* would like to have in terms of structured vs. unstructured, your errands vs. her stuff, visiting other adults/kids vs. just being on your own together, play where you're both involved vs. you're more observing her, and go from there.

    I've also noticed my more Type A friends find a "To Do" list helpful if they have just a short bit of time with kids, where the "To Do" includes "park...snack...shop for new crayons" etc. Just sayin'.

  22. Plan a picnic snack on a towel-in your yard or living room
    Do a playground tour-we go to 3 difft playgrounds with snack box(animal cracker snacks and water in car) tires her out and the 2 yr old too- take a picture at each park she loves to look at them later
    Ditto walk- buy a dollar magnifying glass we got one at the dollar store and collect things to look at- a lot of entertainment value
    take doll on walk where your daughter gets to be Mommy-they love that
    Take her to a store shopping-doesn't need to be fancy, my 3 yr old loves dollar store and we get little trinkets for our adventures there-she gets excited about Mommy taking her shopping and sometimes gets a balloon
    drawing/coloring on rainy days
    play tents
    go to state park on hike,pool, occasionally indoor play center
    play tea like "grownups"


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