I read lots (and lots) of posts about how -- after baby comes along -- going on dates as husband and wife is important. And I'd have to say in Ada's first year (because at this point, it really has almost been an entire year!) we haven't done a great job of doing that. Getting out alone, that is.
It isn't for lack of caring, capable babysitters either. We've had near-constant offers for child care. From grandparents to our runners club friends. It isn't that we don't trust these people. It's quite the opposite, actually.
I could blame Ada's demanding nursing schedule and bottle-hatred. Her colic days. Her difficulty settling down to naps without mommy or daddy's help. Her recent separation anxiety. But in reality, I must blame myself. As the months passed on, I found getting away to be more hassle than it was worth.
We did see a movie in the theater, though. Hunger Games. I consider it a success. Still, we definitely need more practice.
This post isn't about the need for couple alone time, though. I will probably write something more when I have more to contribute to discussion. This post is about how we get out of the house all while keeping Ada happy, healthy, and relatively on schedule.
Also, I am writing on this topic because we've received some emails about how we manage outings with a baby. Our "method" if you can even call it that isn't revolutionary. But I always enjoy reading how other people do things, so I thought I'd share.
Basically, during the week, Ada and I don't do a ton out of the house.
I'm working from home feverishly during all her naps. There haven't been many activities for babies under the age of 1. I don't have a mom-group I'm part of. Many of my real-life friends work in offices during the day. So, it's the two of us. Hanging out at home. Taking walks. Going to the park. Cooking, cleaning, and playing together. Visiting with the grandparents on occasion.
When Stephen gets home, we both try to give each other some alone time. Mostly for running. On days off from running, I might run out to the store or go to the library. Just take an hour for myself. Stephen and I had a pretty good system down during the evenings. But when it hits 6PM, it's dinner, family play, bath, boob, and bed.
Those 1.5 hours go really, really fast. Then we eat dinner (though we're trying to get back on our family dinner schedule somehow), we do our work, and try to sneak in at least some leisure time before bedtime at 11 PM.
Again, the day to day stuff could be another post entirely. I think it's time I update my day-in-the-life post to reflect how things have changed. I will say I'm a bit stumped at the moment because I do like to get out and run errands. And now that Ada can join some classes, I want to do that with her, too.
The problem is that her nursing schedule has changed (every 4 hours) . . . along with her naps (we tend to fall into the 2-3-4 schedule) . . . and when you add in solid foods (an hour after nursing), there's something she needs at pretty much every hour that makes going out difficult.
On weekends, we've been trying to get in at least one good family date. We've identified several baby-friendly restaurants, including our favorite brew-pub, which is where we go most times, and other low- or no-cost activities like First Fridays. That way, if something doesn't work out, we haven't lost a bundle if we need to leave early.
Ada's golden time is right around 4 PM each day. It's after all her naps. It's after a nursing session. And typically we serve her dinner around 5:30 or 6. So, we try to get out during this window whenever possible.
When it comes to family dates, we can bring dinner on the go for her -- sometimes those pouches with the spouts -- or even occasionally give her bits of what we're eating if it's soft enough (one of our favorite places for that is the Wegmans salad bar!). Ada's recently taken to drinking from straws, so we don't even bring a sippy cup.
We stay out doing whatever until it's near her usual bath time. Then we head home. We've pushed back her sleep by half an hour before. She was super cranky and had a lot of trouble calming down when we did finally get home, so we try not to do that.
What I don't know and would like to learn more about is how to get out during other times. Say there's a baby class at 10 AM on Tuesday. But that's smack in the middle of Ada's nap. How does that work? Or does it not work until she's down to one nap per day? Same with if there's a class at 11, but that's her usual nursing time.
At this point, we just don't do those things that conflict with her happy schedule. I have no issues breastfeeding in public, but even with the cover, Ada gets incredibly distracted, so it rarely works. Even in a quiet, but unfamiliar room. She doesn't nap in her stroller or carrier anymore. We've tried. Multiple times!
So, we do find time to get out and have fun. But it's very predictable and strict -- time-wise. Please tell me how to break free from my rigidity! And in my next post on dates, I hope to report back with something relatively romantic. I have another month until I'll feel like a complete failure in this area.
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