Sunday, July 21, 2024

Saturday Outings with Toddlers: A Modern Day Odyssey

(WYDaily/Ben Mackin)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — Picture this: You are the parent of one or more children under the age of four. You are sitting on your couch on a Saturday morning. You are not sure what the exact time is because time is a construct and since the birth of your first child, it has become completely meaningless in your home.

All you know for sure is that the sun was barely peaking over the horizon when your three-year-old came bounding into the room, screaming “Good morning, Daddy!” at the top of her lungs while your one year old was losing his ever-loving mind in the crib in the next room because he was quite certain he would starve to death if he was not fed in the next 45-seconds.

But I digress, back to the couch. The kids are fed, relatively cleaned up and you are sitting on the couch savoring your coffee. You look over at your one-year-old with fatigued amusement as he takes a clump of soil out of the potted plant and spikes it onto the carpet, laughing maniacally all the while.

Just as you are about to address his malfeasance, you hear a crash come from the kitchen pantry, followed by the unmistakable sound of a full box of cheerios being emptied on to the floor. Your three-year-old yells an unsolicited status check, “I ok!”

The golden-doodle, who until that second had been helping the one-year-old excavate the potted plant, hears the commotion in the kitchen and goes tearing down the hall to get in on as many forbidden snacks as possible before you can get up to stop him.

Your spouse comes down the stairs, sees the anarchy that is transpiring and informs you that the kids need to get out of the house before they tear it to the ground.

You ponder what establishment would have such an unruly mob, preferably for free. Luckily you live in the Historic Triangle and the list of activities available to families on any given Saturday is long, varied and most of them are cost effective. Here are two options that always deliver.

Want to teach your kids about Newtonian physics and static electricity at the same time? Throw them down one of the many plastic slides in and around the Historic Triangle. (WYDaily/Ben Mackin)

If the weather is at all nice there are any number of playgrounds in the Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Kidsburg, located in Veteran’s Park is an obvious choice. With a labyrinth of play structures and no shortage of swings for kids of all sizes, the park also sits on a huge field. A field big to have your three year run laps on to tucker her out, if she gets tired of the playground. It is also big enough to accommodate a family picnic along with the 100 pounds of lightweight equipment that you find yourself taking with you on every family outing. Stuff like diaper bags, stroller, first aid kit with field dressing, tourniquet and quikclot , sunscreen, load bearing equipment, snacks, bottles, entrenching tool, sippy cups, AN/PRC 77 Portable Radio with a spare battery. You know, the basics.

As great as Kidsburg is, don’t sleep on some of the other parks like Kiwanis Park, Freedom Park and Waller Mill Park. The fresh air, sunlight and the chance to play and scream with other little nerdowells, will come give you a moment of peace.  You use this respite to try and remember how you spent your Saturdays before you spouse came up with the bright idea of having kids.

If the weather is not ideal for playing outside, fear not. The Williamsburg Regional Library is a fantastic place to take kids. Both the downtown and the James City County facilities are constantly hosting events and activities. Plus you can introduce your little hoodlum to any number of subjects like reading, science, advanced calculus, the long term ramifications of the French Revolution on Colonial North America and many more. With any luck they will be worn out enough to crash hard when you take them back to the wreckage that is your house. Lets face it, getting your children sleepy and docile is an objective of any family outing. While it’s important for your sanity, long naps are not the primary goal.

As the Saturday goes on you find that your goals shift from tiring them out, to seeing just how happy these little beings of pure love can get. As challenging as it is parenting small children, to date there has been no feeling comparable to the one you get when you hear your one-year-old squeal with delight as he swings through the air at the playground. Or when your three-year-old rests her head on your chest as you read her the book she picked out at the library. How about trying not to tear up when she throws her chubby little arms around your neck in a tight squeeze and tells you she loves you as you put her to bed.

You savor those moments. Not just because they help you through the tantrums and accidents, but because you know this sweet, mischievous, cherub stage won’t last forever. It will give way to another phase that will be wonderful and challenging in its own rite, but regardless you know you will miss them at this age.

You will, your houseplants on the other hand, not so much.



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