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April 1, 2012

Weekend Awareness: Time Outside

Warning: I’m about to divulge some relatively severe germophobic / OCD tendencies in the context of this post. Judge as you see fit.

Spending time outside with the girls seems to take quite a bit of planning and coordination. I think the biggest contributor is that we don’t wear shoes in the house.

We have a small laundry room that we use as a mudroom. It works fine for one person at a time, but for one regular-size person, and two little people – who can’t stand still and must touch every.single.thing in sight – it’s a really tight squeeze.

When we’re going somewhere in the car, I just buckle the girls in their car seats and then put on their shoes. But when we’re heading outside for a walk, we pile into the laundry room and play a complicated version of Tennis Shoe Twister to get ready.

Then there’s the issue of sunscreen. Our girls have yet to get red in the sun. I know it will happen one day…but I know it will break my heart. I am a stickler for sunscreen and hats…and now the girls are all about sunglasses, too.

We usually apply sunscreen in the garage (thankful that we have a mop sink so Mommy can wash her hands). It often feels complicated, too, though.

The girls are getting much better, but it’s still nerve-wracking for me to be applying sunscreen to one babe, while “trusting” the other not to get into trouble in the garage while Mommy’s hands are goopy.

So once we have on shoes and sunscreen and hats…we’re finally ready to play.

Play, play, play…the girls are ALL about it. They love to go for walks hand-in-hand…to run in the grass…to kick the ball…to push their bubble mowers…to pick clover and blow dandelions…to attempt to blow bubbles. They love to play with chalk…but -- if I'm being honest -- that’s on a more limited basis, as it adds an additional layer of mess.

One of their biggest joys these past couple of weeks is practicing drinking from small water bottles, or from cups. They pull their little chairs out and sit down, usually crossing their legs, and try so hard to drink. They’re not very proficient, though…most days they probably only consume an ounce or so of water, despite their many attempts…HA!

After we have a blast outside, then it’s time to come in…and the laborious process is repeated, in reverse.

Pile in laundry room…take off shoes…wipe hands…wipe arms / legs (from sunscreen)...potty. And if we’ve sat down anywhere outside, change pants.

It often feels like I'm running a marathon, just to get some fresh air.

Still…I was reminded this weekend…it’s worth it.

Over the past two years, we have put a lot of resources into our backyard. We added a covered patio, and we’ve done a lot of landscaping. We have a beautiful space…but sadly, we haven’t enjoyed it nearly as much as we should have.

We have an awesome grill and great patio furniture, and our neighbors gave us a little picnic table for the girls. We need to use these things.

Playing – carefree – outside is one of the many joys of childhood. My girls need to experience it, unadulterated.

I’m not ready to relax my standards for shoes inside, the application of sunscreen, or trying to keep the grass and dirt and goop out of the house.

But I need to focus and find some zen.

I’ve been dreaming of a porch swing on the patio for two years now. I’m going to make that happen this spring.

We’re going to have picnics on the patio, and eat food from the grill.

And if we somehow get a grass stain on our carpet, we will deal with it.

8 comments:

Julia said...

Your warning at the beginning made me laugh, Mandy. We pretty much do things the same way. :)

It is a lot of work, but I remind myself that the choices I make to insist on that routine helps to keep my girls safe and healthy, and that makes me feel good (even though I'm sweating before we're even out the door :))

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I should video our craziness and you'll feel better about your two.

BTW I made a video on the ipad for you - the kids were in a rare good mood one day last week so I quickly got them to say thank you to you.

Now, please tell me more about this no shoes thing. I think people would think me crazy if I ever said no shoes in the house. Is it just for your kids, or for everyone, even visitors? Is it common where you live, and do people give you a hard time? Curious minds want to know.

PS half the time when we go out I forget cap, sunscreen, everything. The other day I felt quite accomplished when I remembered the cap and sunglasses, then halfway there I remembered, no sunscreen!

strongblonde said...

wow. i'm totally not judging. i just can't put that much effort into it. but i know that my house is definitely dirtier than yours :)

i think that you have to do what you feel comfortable with. that is when you're going to have the most fun :)

championm2000 said...

All in good time! Baby steps!

Barbara Manatee said...

I know I've totally relaxed more with Adam than I was with the twins when they were his age. I felt the need when they were this age to be out with them and be within reach most of the time...now, as long as one of the twins are outside and I can see/hear the kids, I let them head out by themselves. I'm so thankful for our BIG, fenced in backyard with a swingset, a long driveway to play in and a semi-rural setting. I'm definitely looking forward to sitting on the deck with a book this summer while they play outside. :-)

Mandy said...

Wow, that is tiring. We don't do shoes in the house either, the dogs track enough dirt for everyone!

I am TERRIBLE about sunscreen and hat won't stay on their head longer than a minute. I do it if we're in bathing suit or if we'll be out somewhere but thankfully the yard is shaded most of the day.

I don't know how you survive not going outside. The girls put their own shoes on and have gotten pretty proficient at jackets. They even lug their own tub-o-outdoor toys out now. They will literally run their hearts out in the yard. I will admit that they have play clothes, and we change before nap usually, but I've learned to embrace that dirt doesn't hurt. We wash before eating but I've learned to let go and let them play in the dirt. They are ridiculously happy and I can relax!!

I can't wait to hear you've gone hog wild one day and played in the mud!

Mandy said...

Wow, that is tiring. We don't do shoes in the house either, the dogs track enough dirt for everyone!

I am TERRIBLE about sunscreen and hat won't stay on their head longer than a minute. I do it if we're in bathing suit or if we'll be out somewhere but thankfully the yard is shaded most of the day.

I don't know how you survive not going outside. The girls put their own shoes on and have gotten pretty proficient at jackets. They even lug their own tub-o-outdoor toys out now. They will literally run their hearts out in the yard. I will admit that they have play clothes, and we change before nap usually, but I've learned to embrace that dirt doesn't hurt. We wash before eating but I've learned to let go and let them play in the dirt. They are ridiculously happy and I can relax!!

I can't wait to hear you've gone hog wild one day and played in the mud!

cat said...

It took me some time but finally I am the mom hpwho lets them get dirty, muddy etc. full of paint and all. Imhave to with L's sensory issues so you relax. You let them get dirty. Over the sunscreen and under the hats, hec you even wash the hats. But you let them get dirty. ( I keep sunscreen in the car and wipes for my hands. And the hats are at the front door,)