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Adventures with my little ones

We’re fortunate to have in-house childcare during my work hours, so when MJ went away on a work trip last week I wasn’t left completely alone at home with the kids for four days. But solo parenting is still tricky when you have built everything up around having two parents participating in the childcare formula. My duties for the day began around 6AM and wrapped up around 9PM, with chores and sleep slipping, and any unexpected things that arose (and they did!) becoming incredibly hard to handle.

So, what did we do while MJ was away?

The first thing to know is that Adam is a runner. He gets distracted or just goes off in his own little world and suddenly he’s gone. This is annoying at home, since the entire house is not, in fact, child proof. During outings it’s more of a problem, for obvious reasons. It’s something we’ve been working on with him, but it’s not a solved problem and ultimately we have to be very careful about what activities we agree to, knowing his proclivities.

Still, I decided that on Sunday I’d take the boys to the Oakland Zoo, by myself. I can’t begin to stress what a Big Deal this is. No one has ever taken our running four year old and a our two year old to the zoo solo.

Thankfully, it went really well.

The boys had some freedom outside of the stroller. They were convinced with promises of lunch at the zoo to not completely abandon me, and even on the playground I was able to attend to little Aaron’s interest in climbing every bronze animal while Adam stayed withing visible distance running around. We had so much fun! And yes, we did ultimately get lunch, which we got to enjoy up at The Landing Cafe, which is part of the upper part of the zoo at the end of the California Trail.

We have a membership now, so I didn’t stress about cramming in activities. We saw some key animals, went on the gondola, played on the playground, had some lunch, and happily went home around noon so the boys could get naps. It didn’t work perfectly (Aaron, why won’t you nap?) but with some refinement I could see this being a regular thing. Particularly if I wasn’t doing in solo.

That Sunday late afternoon we stayed close to home and I got a whole pile of chores done while the kids watched some TV. The most notable thing about the TV afternoon was that Adam asked to put on Blue’s Clues for the first time in a while, and he didn’t ask me for help writing the clues in his Handy Dandy Notebook! It’s an activity we always did together, so it was a rather engaging TV time, as TV time goes. It was a little sad for me, admittedly, but I am so proud of him for navigating pages in the notebook and copying the drawings down.

The work week was a little trickier than Sunday. Our au pair had the kids while I worked, but I’m still quite present since she’s still learning about the kids and their routines. At the end of my day I decided it would be fun to leave the house, so on Monday we all went out for pizza, and on Tuesday we did a BART ride to Target before returning to our home station for dinner at our favorite local restaurant.

I’d say Wednesday is when all hell broke loose. The boys tore down the built-in shelving in their bedroom during the hour they spent playing in their room in the morning. I actually intervened much earlier than usual (before their green light wake-up at 7AM) due to the shelf-collapsing noise. The boys preceded to get into trouble out front, which our au pair handled, but ended up being a pretty stressful situation afterwards. By the time my end of day rolled around, I was feeling the impact of less sleep and I decided to take the boys out on a walk. We went to the comic book store, grabbed our latest mail at the post office, and then swung around to the grocery store to pick up some necessities and some supplements to dinner. At this point some of the chores slipping was starting to catch up with me, but I was so tired it was hard to fix.

It was a fun week with them, but I’m glad that MJ is home now. In spite of flexibility, I’ve simply built a career that’s too demanding to have the capacity to spend vast amounts of time on childcare too. I’m definitely grateful I’m not doing this on my own all the time.

We’re now eagerly barreling into the Father’s Day weekend with plans to attend the Castro Valley Car Show downtown and perhaps take in a baseball game on Sunday!