I wrote a blog post last week about keeping my resolution in 2015: to make the year memorable through quality time spent together. I also outlined three weekend events in order to start the year off with that goal in mind. Well, we didn't make it to any of those venues. Our third son was born approximately five hours after publishing the post. Family fun is always taking place in Oklahoma City, though; there will be other opportunities this year to enjoy the community around us.
Baby Gabriel's early arrival signals a different life stage, the transition to a family of five. He's a tiny little baby, weighing in at just 5 pounds, 4 ounces. Gabriel lost more than 10 percent of his body weight before ever leaving the hospital, which has made the usual process of having a newborn at home all the more intense. We're focused on scheduled feedings measured in drops that form milliliters, jaundice and body temperature, and we cross our fingers that all the love and nourishment materializes as pounds and ounces. This is a time for mom and baby especially, which leaves dad and our other children to seek their own activities and give us some space. As very much as they want to help, everyone needs a break – including me, to just take care of one small infant who has to be fed every three hours and also get some rest in between feedings.
Whether you need some alone time or just want to focus on one child for a while, having another adult to help out with other children is a tremendous source of relief. A spouse, grandparent, uncle or family friend can make the difference between a boring afternoon inside and going out for a change of pace. I'm really fortunate that my husband, Mario, is hands-on and on the go; the resources listed below are from our own experience but I'm sure other adults in your child's life could enjoy these places too.
MetroFamily's List of Cool Places to Spend Time with Dad in the Metro is a great resource for families with older kids. Sam and Isaac, though, are just 7 and 3, so most of those are out in our case. Here are my top six general suggestions for dads with kids under age 10:
1.) The park: Weather permitting, the park is a great place to burn off some energy. The facilities maintained by the City of Edmond's Parks & Recreation make for a nice afternoon with fresh air and sunshine. It's free and a Frisbee, ball or bicycles thrown in the car at the last minute can stretch their visit from a few hours to all afternoon.
2.) The movies: I'm not a huge fan of screen time. However, the experience of attending a matinee is more memorable than the actual show somehow. Time flies with the addition of something Disney/Pixar and can make giving mom just a couple of hours to be by herself an easy task. Really, I save this option for a rainy day (sometimes a literal rainy day) when everyone seems upset with one another or nothing is going as it should. We all leave the theater in a better mood when I return the favor for my husband and take Sam and Isaac out to a movie.
3.) Arcades: I don't do arcade-style games or settings. The lights and noise are just too much for me. However, Mario and sons can lose themselves in something like Dave & Buster's or Gattitown. That's their fun thing to look forward to, go and do.
4.) Haircuts: It's helpful. Going to get their hair cut is one less thing I have to worry about and both boys are at the ages now where they love having their hair cut.
5.) Museums: Yes, museums. They're a contrast from the other items in this list but here's why they're relevant: sure, there's educational value but what I really enjoy is watching my husband share his interests and explain all the highlights with visual aids right in front of them. Whether I'm present or not doesn't matter. Going to find out more about a topic gives them something in common. I hope those shared interests remain as Sam and Isaac grow and that they'll provide topics to talk about during the teenage years when it may seem there's nothing else they have to say to each other. The Museum of Osteology is one museum that they haven't seen yet and I'm hoping they'll attend this event next week. I'm sure other families feel similarly about sports or hunting; astronomy and dinosaurs pull rank at our house.
6,) Bookstores: We love our local library but corner bookstores are also ideal for fostering a love of literature. Sam and Isaac are happy to know that a favorite book is really theirs to keep, without a due date or evidence of other readers. Best of Books and Full Circle Bookstore are some of our favorites. It's a win/win because both parent and child are sure to find something that captures their interest and is audience-appropriate. Just going to browse is fun.
I know our 2015 goal will come together sooner or later. For now, I'm glad it doesn't all depend on me to coordinate quality time and make those memories.
Is there a venue my family should visit soon? Let me know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. You might see it featured here!