Monday, June 02, 2008

Toddlers in Public

This past weekend was very nice. Family is lovely, but after 4 weeks in a row of family visits (3 of those involving travel) it was really nice to have no plans and spend two days as just the three of us. R and Heather even got to start a day early since daycare was closed. They went to the Aviary, the pool and the playground. After a late nap, we went to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner. We went too close to bedtime and had to leave in an expedited fashion when Heather was "done".

On Saturday, Heather set a new record for sleeping in late. I woke up before she did and was amazed that she wasn't up by the time I was out of the shower. She did go to bed a little late on Friday night, but it was still amazing how late in the morning it was when I woke her up... While R went for a haircut, Heather and I went to Natural Stitches (where we saw Anna) and Whole Foods. Despite sleeping in late, Heather was so ready for a nap when we got home that she only ate about 4 raspberries and a little bread before she was done with lunch. She took a nice long nap while R and I got some things done around the house. When she got up we headed to a nearby urban retail development where we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and did a little shopping at REI. (We would have done more, but some of what we wanted could only be gotten online.)

Sunday's only plans were to go get brunch at our usual place and explore the neighborhood yard sale. Heather only made it to one sale before it was nap time and mommy got some quality yard sale shopping time on her own!

The variety of restaurant and retail experiences this weekend were varied, but clearly tell me that taking Heather for these kinds of outings aren't as easy as they used to be. Yes, sometimes she can be distracted with crayons, a rocking chair or just the chance to walk away and pretend like we're chasing her. Truly, she is not a terror or especially difficult, but I also wouldn't say that it is easy to get shopping accomplished as a solo parent or to eat a leisurely meal as a family with her around. She is best when she is well-rested and well-fed (aren't we all?), but her mood can't always be predicted or easily calmed.

Anna can tell me whether I do a reasonable job keeping an eye on a toddler and trying to shop for yarn at the same time. On one hand it is freeing to be able to put her down since she is walking but on the other hand she isn't too shy to start pulling yarn off the shelves after 10 minutes in the store (once she stops staring at the "strangers" who work there). There are also the challenges of keeping an eye on her, letting her get out her pent up energy, letting her push the grocery cart without running people over, forcing her to sit in the grocery cart during check-out, and the difference between letting her move away from me in a little yarn shop versus a big store like REI.

I'm figuring it all out as we go. What are your parameters for parenting when you take your little one out? Balancing the desire to keep them calm and happy versus maintaining parental control versus the comfort of others around you versus their need to explore. :-)


Amanda said...

Ask me again in another year. Perhaps then I will have some insite?

DrDrama said...

That's a hard one. Even after having a child, I still have a low tolerance for rambunctious children in quieter/nicer restaurants, which is probably why we gravitate towards family-style places with the Kid. That being said, I think a lot of it is providing distractions and going out with family or friends who will take the Kid outside when she starts getting rowdy.