YO MAMA: Weathering the seasons with a toddler in tow
There’s complaining about the weather, and then there’s complaining about the weather when you have a baby or toddler in tow. It changes things, amiright?
Each season — while absolutely magical for children in its own way — also presents some unique challenges for parents.
Let’s start with winter, a season in which leaving the house will take, on average, all morning.
Playing outside requires wrangling our little ones into child-immobilization devices, AKA, snowsuits. Have you seen the kid from Thomas’ Snowsuit, by Robert Munsch? That little dude’s expression sums up how most of us feel about winter, whether you have a child or not.
Little people also need toques, mittens and boots. These will take approximately 15 minutes to put on, and about two seconds for your child to pull off.
Because babies can’t wear poofy snowsuits in their car seats, we are constantly dressing and undressing them in our attempts to go places/keep them from freezing to death in the time it takes to travel from the car to the grocery store.
Oh, and because you’re focussing so much on remembering all your kid’s cozy layers, you will probably forget to pack your own coat and mitts. Taking care of kids in winter also means navigating parking lot ice fields with a kid in one arm and a diaper bag/groceries/half-eaten snack/discarded toque in the other.
And once your kid figures out he can eat snow you are basically on 24-hour yellow snow watch. Piling on to that mound of yellow snow, it’s also cold and flu season!
Next up is spring. Kids still need plenty of layers for outside play, plus everything is SOAKING WET. You hate the mud. Your kid loves it. The weather is often unpredictable, meaning you can’t go anywhere without at least seven layers and an arsenal of blankets in different levels of warmth.
In springtime, a buffet of debris and garbage is unveiled at your child’s feet. No longer covered up in a blanket of snow, the grassy playground is now a toddler delicatessen of mysterious plastic bits, cigarette butts, and old food.
Finally, it’s summer, and for a while you think there is nothing in the world to complain about. Then there’s a heat dome. Or smoke from a wildfire. You are trapped indoors with a small person who requires constant entertainment. And you thought you were going to spend the entire summer at the beach while your child played in the sand. HA HA.
When the Air Quality Health Index and Environment Canada say it’s safe to take our babes outside, we obsess over keeping them shrouded in muslin cloths because infants under six months can’t wear sunblock yet. No light will touch their virgin skin on our watch.
Later, we have sunscreen battles with our toddlers (it’s kind of like finger painting while some maniac keeps moving your canvas around). You are sweaty all the time, whether from hauling a bulky car seat around, breastfeeding a human-oven or carrying a 30 pound toddler around.
Last but not least is fall. It’s cooler now but still mild enough that you can get away with only a few layers, maybe even skip the mittens. The skies are clear, the air is fresh, and autumn leaves are really, really great for crafts.
Yeah, fall is actually pretty great. Not much to complain about here, except that fall never seems long enough.
— Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a rambunctious little boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exhilarating, beautiful, messy, awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.
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