I have had a difficult time explaining to my coworkers and friends without children how becoming a parent changed my life. In most ways, I’m the same person: I still like the same foods, have the same day job, and dress the same way. On the other hand, I now take a lot more photos, have less flexibility in my schedule, and handle a lot more poo.
One particular way that I hadn’t entirely anticipated is how my daughter’s social calendar would become my own social calendar.
I haven’t been to a lot of children’s birthday parties yet. My daughter and her peers are still too young to really understand what’s going on, but I suspect that will change soon.
More importantly, our daycare moves children up to the next room on their birthday, so each birthday is actually an unusual moment of transition. Presumably we would want to invite the families from the earlier classroom, but almost immediately afterwards, we would no longer see any of them.
On Monday mornings when asked what I had done the previous weekend, the answer more often than not is that I went to a park playdate.
We regularly meet up with other daycare families to go to a nearby playground. It’s actually quite nice, all things considered. It’s a safe, outdoor space where we can socialize with parents, who are remarkably in tune with exactly the same concerns we have between parenting and daycare.
Not-parenting social engagements
Due to the ongoing COVID situation, we haven’t been seeing a lot of friends. However, when we do, it’s always with a caveat to figure out how to handle our daughter.
Thankfully, our friends have always been understanding and accommodating for what we need to figure out. The biggest constraint, however, is just working around eating and sleeping schedules. Whereas we once were more or less free or flexible to whenever we wanted to be awake, we are more rigid about our daughter’s schedule.
That mostly means that things we do as a family happen between the afternoon and dinnertime. Solo outings are best for the evenings after bedtime when one of us stays home while the other goes out.
Over time, our schedule has loosened up. It always feels like a big relief, even if it didn’t feel constricting before. For example, we dropped the post-daycare snack before dinner. It, of course, has minor benefits for weekdays, but especially on weekends, it’s one less fixed point in the evenings.
For the two weeks of swim lessons, that took another adjustment, and I suspect that extra-curricular activities will only take more time in the future. I remember my parents sitting on the bleachers at my baseball games chatting with the other parents. I wonder if that will still be a thing by the time we’re doing sports or if we will just all be on our phones the entire time.