A new game plan

16 09 2008

It was rough going for a few weeks for awhile. Between potty training, sharing the limelight with his new sibling, and your general 3-year-old-cratchedyness, Ethan was, well, rather unpleasant to be around. Factors that weren’t terrible but didn’t help things: Oliver’s increasing mobility requires me to give him even more attention right now; despite being September, some days are still way too uncomfortably hot to go play outside for more than 20 minutes; Jeff’s work trips that take him to far away, sometimes unsafe, destinations for days to weeks at a time; the boys have conspired to have one of them wake as early as possible in the morning, and then wake the other up, so as to wrench me from my precious sleep before the sun has risen, as well, all tandemly screaming/yelling/laughing and whatnot. I’ve had to resort to coffee to get me through the mornings, something I haven’t had to do since the beginning days with Oliver, when he was still up every thirty seconds to nurse.

None of these things, when taken individually, is that bad. But combined, and I’ve just been feeling overwhelmed lately. I was getting desperate, and realized that it was unrealistic of me to expect things to get better when I wasn’t doing anything to change what wasn’t working. We needed to get out of the house for things other than errands. (I can no longer blame the nursing-often baby for our reclusiveness.) And Ethan and I could DEFINITELY use some time apart. We are around each other EVERY WAKING MOMENT OF EVERY SINGLE DAY (not to mention the NON AWAKE MOMENTS, as well), we were bound to grow tired with each other.

My first thought was preschool. I felt a little bit guilty to wanting to dump him off with someone else. I chose to be a stay-at-home-mom, after all. Him being the reason. But that’s something I could easily get over for a few hours a week without him of stimulation and peers for my son. However, that thought was quietly, discreetly and very very quickly KILLED TO BITS when I researched it a bit and found out how much such an EXTRAVAGENT LUXURY a thing like an early education can cost a person in this area. We are about to move soon, a move that will bring with it many new-to-us monthly bills (as we are moving from military to civillian housing), and the hundreds of dollars, my extra kidney and RIGHTS TO MY SOUL that preschool would cost is not something I want to take on at the moment.

Oh, yeah, and there’s the fact that I’d been toying with the idea of homeschooling the boys. Jeff was all for it, too. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he was pushing me to do it, but he definitely likes the idea of it.

So, no preschool. I signed him up for a class at one of the nearby rec centers. It meets just once a week for ten weeks, and only for about 45 minutes. A painful 11 hours 15 minutes LESS THAN what I’d hoped to get with preschool, but also a joyful gazillion dollars less than preschool. And so I’ve had to set aside the imagined mornings of play time with Oliver, housework with no toddler to contend with, and maybe even the chance of a– gasp!– nap I’d daydreamed about. Instead I’ll have just enough time to go sit in the car and read a book while Oliver takes a catnap, and maybe take him for a quick walk around the building or playground. I’m okay with this, though. The trade-off is, I’m hoping, a toddler who’ll be learning from his peers how to socialize, as well getting a tiny break from his mom (and vice versa). I can deal with that.

Ethan starts his Gym Jam class tomorrow, and is very excited. I, however, keep asking him over and over “What’s the name of the class you’re going to go to on Wednesday?” even though I know perfectly well. It’s just that he can’t say his “j” sounds yet, and I must hang on for dear life to the rare cute things he still does, especially now that we are amidst all the tempter tantrums and attitude these days. And, well, if hearing Ethan say “Dym Dam” makes me giggle, SO WHAT?

I’ve made one other change to our daily life, a change that I put into effect yesterday. Where before some days I couldn’t find time to sneak in a shower till the evening, there was lots of sitting around while I tried to figure out something for us to do, and there was maybe too much tv time while Mommy read blogs, there now is planned activities, structure and routine, and no more blogging during business hours. I spent a couple of evenings last week and some time this weekend planning ahead to create week-long plans that will fill our mornings. Those of us who shower need to be done before breakfast, and all of us dressed. Oliver plays on the floor while Ethan and I do crafts, workbook, exercises, snack and read. Our activities center around a theme each week, and to kick off our first week and get Ethan excited, our first theme was ‘pirates’ (and coincidentally, Friday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day). We’ll do this from 9 until lunchtime, at least three times a week (leaving one morning for errand-running and one morning for Gym Jam).

Today was Day 2 of this plan- I think it’s going pretty well. There is less misbehaving when he’s busy doing a craft or coloring or practicing his numbers. I made sure to fill our time with things that he likes doing, and we’re both a little less stressed out already. One thing he loves to do is exercise. I discovered this when I started doing my Tae-Bo videos. (Notice how I did not say “back when I used to do my Tae-Bo video,” which would be THE TRUTH, as it makes clear the fact that I haven’t done it in months.) I checked out a couple of kid-oriented exercise videos on Amazon, but thought it’d be smarter to Netflix a couple and try them out before I buy any. Our first one, YogaKids, won’t be here till tomorrow, so Monday, in a pinch, I searched YouTube for a replacement. One of the ones I stumbled upon was of a kid who has made what appears to be a very professional workout video, as he greets the viewer with his “Well, hey kids! Let’s do our exericises!” I was about to move on to the next video but Ethan was all, don’t change the channel, I wanna watch that! And he was hooked. He watched twice in a row. The second time he watched it, I noticed something… a bit out of place. It’s a home movie, and the guy filming it seems to have taped over something else with little AJ’s workout. Something… workout-related, yes, BUT NOT THAT KIND OF WORKOUT. Judge for yourself (pay special attention around 4:55):

I’m just sayin’.

We skipped the fitness part of our newly scheduled mornings today.


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4 responses

16 09 2008
Hallie

Oh my, that video was … meeting many different types of audiences.

As for the preschool, you may want to look at the public schools. I know a lot of districts have Pre-K programs and I think they are free. He may have to wait until next year when he is four. But it is a great resource to look into.

16 09 2008
AndreAnna

Yeah, preschool? any kind of good childcare? Not. Cheap.

Sucks.

You sound like you’re the best teacher he could have anyways, and you’re doing the right thing by socializing him as well.

Can you be my teacher?

16 09 2008
Douglas

Does Sesame Street have exercises on it? I know that for awhile they’ve been trying to promote good health habits. It’s not one of the TV shows that I watch though.

17 09 2008
aliasmother

Structure = good, I think (like i know anything). If Dym Dam works out and it seems like Ethan is enjoying being with other kids, maybe you could look into starting a playgroup kind of thing? I know that my area has lots of homeschoolers that get together often, so there may already be some kind of homeschool preschool group in existence. Yes, no, maybe?

Also, we are considering making the Buddha a pumpkin. Orange sweatshirt + green hat + fat baby = something even my non-crafty self can handle.

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