Routine is boring! There are only so many times you can eat at the same place before the thought of ordering the same special of the day makes you want to gag.
It’s time to try something new! Shake things up! “Let’s break the monotony that has become our life,” you tell your spouse one Saturday. You start the day with great intentions to be spontaneous and show your kid something new and break away from the usual weekend haunts – Souplantation and the neighborhood park.
Then reality barges in and stomps all over your dream.
Here are five reasons to not break from routine and try new things with kids.
Trying a New Restaurant
The Vision: The kids will sit quietly in their high chairs, coloring or watching Yo Gabba Gabba on the iPhone as you and your husband settle on entrees. The kids will be so excited to try the restaurant’s homemade Mac N’Cheese and won’t need any convincing to eat the entire bowl. Because this is not just any Mac N’Cheese; this is a three-cheese Mac N’Cheese that is so good people will suffer the traffic on the 5 Freeway just to down a freshly made batch of the cheesy noodles.
And for once you’ll break tradition of ordering a salad and choose the warm chicken Panini with fresh spinach and a “special sauce” that co-workers have gushed about. These are the people you rely on for guidance on trends and everything outside the realm of Disney princesses and organic-made everything.
The meal will be delicious, the kids will eat everything without any complaints and your husband will tell you what a great idea this was.
Reality: The restaurant is not set up for a double stroller, so you have no choice but to sit on the patio in cold weather. One high chair does not have a working seat belt, so your hand serves as a makeshift barrier between your daughter and the pavement.
After a 10 minute argument between you and your husband on whether or not to order one or two orders of Mac N’Cheese for the kids, you admit defeat and just order one. Meanwhile the kids are hitting one another because they are hangry and bored. Why would an upscale restaurant have a kids menu but not offer crayons and something to color?
Your daughter takes one look at the fancy Mac N’Cheese and refuses to eat it. You manage to slip a spoonful into her mouth mid-tantrum, which triggers her gag reflex. She throws up the colorful, cheesy meal all over herself and the floor.
The smell of your chicken Panini is no longer making your stomach growl; instead it’s making it turn.
When your husband reminds you that this was not such a great idea, you have no response. For once, he’s right.
Trying a New Park
The Vision: A new park opened a few months ago, and it has been a hot topic amongst moms. You’ve avoided taking the kids since weekends are when parks are always busy – and it’s a 25 minute drive away. But this weekend will be different. Traffic will be clear, parties will be held later in the day, which means no fight over the swings or long lines for the slide. It’s a three-day weekend after all – a time when everyone heads out of town.
The girls will love running around in the sand, sliding down the nautical themed tube slide and splashing in the nearby bay waters. The sun and salt air will wear them out, allowing at least an hour respite from the constant chaos that is parenting.
Reality: The park is packed because no one got the memo that the beautiful weather makes for an ideal beach day, not a park day. After circling the parking lot twice, you pull into the stall only to realize you have to pay to park. You get the kids, the sand toys and lunch boxes out of the car and into the stroller as your husband waits in line to pay for parking.
Of course the only available table is the one covered in seagull shit, but beggars can’t be choosers, so you use a baby wipe to clean off the seats and sit on the corner of the table that was not hit by bird crap. You let the girls loose and follow them into the sand where your 3-year-old starts to whine because “sand is gross” and begs you to pick her up. Meanwhile the 1-year-old is trying to climb the slide the wrong way, and the put-together-mom gives you the “what the fuck” stare since she has to stop her son mid-slide.
The slides are packed with older kids and the swings are a madhouse. You direct the girls to the baby beach where they happily splash and jump with other kids. Oh no, wait. Where are the other kids?
“You should get them out,” a man in a kayak says as he paddles by. “Tons of jellyfish out today.”
You struggle to pull the girls out of the water and wipe off the sand and water from their legs, promising them cupcakes and juice if they don’t make a scene. By the time you get back to the table and start to unpack the sandwiches your husband signals to wrap it up because time on the meter will run out in 5 minutes.
“Can we go to the park at hone,” your toddler asks?
Your husband reminds you this was a bad idea.
Trying a New Child-Oriented Activity
Vision: The zoo is great, but you think even the animals are getting tired of seeing you every other weekend. You decide to try out a new venue. Something educational and fun: The Science Museum. STEM is so hot right now, so why not get your daughters into something science related?
They will love the interactive displays – peering into microscopes, learning about cells and how the body works. They will want to know more and try to build things out of Legos instead of playing Frozen and princess tea parties. This visit will create a thirst for knowledge into how things work and how things are created.
Reality: The two for one coupon expires today and everyone is taking advantage. The air conditioning is broken and no one is wearing deodorant. Adults and older kids don’t care that your toddlers are waiting their turn to look into the microscopes or use the magnifying glass.
Your girls are interested in why the human body display is naked and ask what is that and that and that? What does that thing do? You have no idea and have no interest in reading the explanation provided on the display. Words like molecules and cells confuse you and it’s too hot.
You steer the stroller toward the exit and promise the girls ice cream at the zoo.
Try a New Breakfast Entrée
The Vision: Ain’t no one got time for cooking a healthy breakfast on weekday mornings when you’re trying to pack lunches, nurse the baby, sign school picture forms and get out the door in time for work. So this weekend you’re focused on setting the morning aside to cook a warm, amazing tasty meal that does not require use of a toaster oven or a microwave.
You’ll use the Mickey Mouse waffle iron to make wheat waffles complete with fresh strawberries and blueberries. The kids have never had them, so they will be so excited to bite into the fluffy waffles that they won’t notice that you swapped out artery clogging bacon with lean turkey bacon.
For once they will eat close to everything on their plate and not ask for a snack 5 seconds after you clean up the breakfast dishes.
The Reality: The waffle iron is a son of a bitch that is out to mock you and your lack of cooking skills. The first waffle comes out completely charred; the second attempt isn’t much better since the batter was stuck to every crevice of the hot waffle iron.
But the third and fourth waffles come out semi-golden, which is good enough for you. You pour sugar-free maple syrup on the waffles, which kinda resemble Mickey Mouse, and you cut up some strawberries and blueberries for the girls.
The toddler refuses to take a bite since it “looks different,” and the 1-year-old spits out the strawberries. They were a little tart, but that’s normal, right?
“This tastes funny,” the 3-year-old says after sucking some syrup from her finger. “I don’t like it.”
You begin to force feed the kids – negotiate a bite of waffle for a chocolate chip.
“Is this turkey bacon?” your husband asks from the kitchen where he’s been sneaking bites of last night’s pizza.
You vow to never cook again.
Try Implementing No Screen Time
Yeah, that’s never happening.
Whenever you get the urge to try something new and stray from the mundane routine that has become your life, remember how awful the unknown can be and save yourself the headache, frustration and your husband being able to say “told you so.”