“Ahhhh….these long winter nights just fly by in our house,” said no parent of toddlers. Ever. Trying to find new activities to keep your demanding toddlers occupied when all resources are at your disposal is harder than keeping a straight face every time you see Donald Trump with that tan and that hair-piece but it becomes harder still when the dark nights sneak in and steal away the afternoon park run.
I gave birth in November so my very first experience of motherhood was dark, both literally and metaphorically. New mamas spend a lot of time walking – I think it’s partly therapy, partly exercise partly what-the-fuck-else-am-I-expected-to-achieve – and I spent a lot of time of trudging around our local park. Come 3.30pm though my walking had been hijacked by the darkness. I returned home quite at a loss with what to do with myself and my Small.
Of course, looking back on it now, I’m astounded at my ridiculous self. She was a newborn. What did I expect to do with her? What did I expect that she wanted to do? All she was bothered about was being kept warm and fed while she busily got on with joining up all those synapses and figuring out how to, quite literally, tell the difference between her arse and her elbow.
Why, oh why, didn’t I just sit down and watch movies while we cuddled up together? Why didn’t I enjoy this time before movement, talking, questioning, tantrumming (it’s a word, go with it)? Why was I so worried about keeping her occupied? She had enough going on in her teeny-tiny brain to be worried about the crazy, slightly dirty dishevelled woman singing her The Wheel’s On The Sodding Bus. Instead, I struggled through those days trying to think of new indoor-based, artifical-light reliant activities to do with her.
And guess what? I’m still doing struggling and now I’ve got a much tougher crowd to contend with these days. Now she’s older and wiser and oh so much more wily I regularly find myself on the losing end of this battle and resorting to TV and I guess I’m just wondering how the rest of you get through these long winter nights?
It’s a long old slog from 3.30pm to 7.30pm (even Frozen isn’t four hours long…even when you watch it twice) and I’m not ashamed to admit that most of those four hours are spent deciding when I can acceptably break out the wine/gin/beer (delete as appropriate). I know I could make salt dough with her or play dough or read the same Peppa Pig book over and over again (you know the one…Peppa goes on holiday and loses her fucking teddy three motherfunking times but it’s OK because the Italian police have nothing better to do than chase the family around on their Vespas returning said teddy to precocious pig-shaped child) but even those don’t take four hours and when there’s four hours every damn day to fill…well, suffice to say, I need some inspiration.
Hit me with your bright ideas and save this mama from alcoholism and S.A.D.