This is part of a 100 Days of Summer Fun series where Oklahoma City metro moms share their ideal days with their kids. We hope it inspires you to try something new with your kids this summer! Find more Ideal Days on our list of 100 Days of Summer Fun.
Melissa is a journalist-turned-stay-at-home-mom. She lives in Moore and shares a day of summer fun and adventure with her infant daughter, Avery.
It's 4:30 a.m., and I am awake writing this blog on my iPhone while my 14-week-old daughter, Avery, nurses herself back into dreamland. As a first-time mom, every minute with my daughter seems like a learning experience. My life has completely changed in the past four months. I went from being a career-driven woman who routinely met friends for happy hour after work to a stay-at-home mom who is often in bed by 8:30 p.m.
I'm not complaining. I love every minute of it. But I'd be lying if I said I don't go stir crazy from time-to-time. So when I plan our summer days, outings are just as much for my sanity as they are for Avery's well-being and development.
When MetroFamily Magazine first asked me to write about the ideal summer day with my infant, my first thought was "ideally, it would start with her sleeping through the night and would conclude with her not spitting up on me even once that day." Since it's 4:30 in the morning and I'm now up with her for the second time, today hasn't started out as the "ideal day." Additionally, considering Avery has reflux and a general disregard for mommy's wardrobe, I doubt it will end ideally either. However, as a new mother, even the exhausting, trying and stir-crazy moments of parenthood are more rewarding than I ever imagined.
One of the most important lessons I've learned as a new mother is that in order to best take care of your children you also have to take care of yourself. That's why fitting in exercise is extremely important. I want my daughter to grow up to respect herself and love and nurture the body God gave her. So every day, weather permitting, Avery and I go for at least one walk. The physical activity is good for me, and the fresh air and sunshine is good for both of us. While we walk, I talk to Avery about the different sights and sounds along the way. We hear the wind rustling through the trees, the sound of cars driving by and dogs barking. We see pretty flowers, fluffy clouds and a babbling stream which is flowing nicely after the recent rain. Often we will stop in our favorite neighborhood park, Veterans Park in Moore, and I take Avery out of her stroller so she can get a better view of the world around her. My daughter is currently discovering textures, so I like to pick up different types of leaves and show them to her. While there are a ton of toys you can buy that promote mental stimulation and development, sometimes nature can provide the greatest learning tools.
Between our walks, of course, we have several feedings, diaper changes and naps. We also fit in tummy time, play time on her activity mat, a story or two, lots of cuddles and the occasional errand. I've discovered 3 p.m. on any given weekday Target stores across the metro are filled with new moms (who are likely just as stir crazy as I am). If you currently don't have any mommy friends, Target just might be a great place to meet some.
Our day winds down with me cooking a healthy dinner for my husband while Avery sits in her bouncy seat and curiously watches. I explain each step in the process, as I wash and chop the vegetables and season the chicken for the grill (because what summer day is complete without a cook out?). Even though Avery is too young to eat solid foods, I know it won't be long before she is grabbing for our forks and wanting to experience new foods and flavors. That's why I've recently started experimenting with some healthy new recipes and attempting to cut out processed foods and replace them with fresh ingredients.
After dinner, it's one final walk around the block with the dogs followed by bath time. Once Avery is in her pajamas, we say our prayers and thank God for such a beautiful, fun summer day. Technically, I pray, while Avery stares at the ceiling fan. She loves that thing. I sing her a lullaby and rock her to sleep. As I attempt to put her down in her bassinet (we are still working on the transition to the crib), I say one more silent prayer that she won't immediately wake up when her head hits the sheet and that tonight will be the night she sleeps a solid eight hours straight. (A mommy can wish, right?)
After Avery is asleep, I sit and think about how much she will change by next summer. I cherish these times with her knowing she won't always be so little. Although next summer she will be walking, and I will likely be chasing her around the park trying to keep her from putting leaves in her mouth, we will still make our daily outings a part of our routine. In my opinion, summers are made for getting outdoors.
My husband and I both love being outside, and at 14 weeks old, Avery already does, too. So my advice to the new moms who are reading this is to fit in some time this summer to appreciate Mother Nature and to stay active. It can make a world of difference in a new baby's and a new mommy's attitude.