Entertaining your baby cruiser, crawler, roller, and the moms who love them! (and who clean them, and feed them, and change them, and…. You get the idea.) Finding things to do with your baby during the colder months of winter can be a daunting task especially if your transportation is limited and so is your space. City living can make you insane inside with a baby so here are some ideas for saving your sanity and socializing your baby.
You’re sitting in the kitchen with your coat on, looking from the clock to the carseat and back, agonizing; baby music class starts in 15 minutes, and your 7 month old took extra long to go down for her nap again, and you already used your make-ups. The class cost hundreds of dollars. You might be wondering if it’s worth it.
Often, classes like Mommy Music and Me , of Forest Hills (Winter 2011 season, 11 sessions, $250,) when taught by someone as seasoned and charming as Wendy DeAngelis, are well worth it. There’s nothing as delightful as your baby’s musical delirium as she bangs a bunch of pink plastic maracas to smithereens with chortling glee. And a teacher like Wendy, who can really sing, will bring you out of your shell, too. You’ll find yourself humming favorites from class, using the lullabies at night, and making friends.
Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals, of Astoria, (Winter 2011 season, 10 sessions, $210,) boasts working rock-n-roller Allison Tartalia, who is also Director of Music for Queens of the Sunnyside Arts Cooperative , which offers movement, theater and music classes for 2’s on up.
With no registration required, Little Waltzers is the twice-weekly sing-along for mini-moshers, moms, and sibs for just $7 per family at the coffee lounge Waltz-Astoria.
But schedule shmedjule, babies change every day, and that’s why less expensive (how about free?), and less structured, activities may work better, especially in harsh weather, when the snowsuits and the Snugglis can drive a mother right around the bend, never mind shlepping to the subway in the biting wind or wrangling a parking space when you get back.
Have A Baby Playdate!
How about a musicale at your place? It’s easy to do and your neighborhood moms will love you for offering a mid-day destination, no pressure. Gear-wise all you need are some toy instruments, like Two Shakes $5.95 ea. ‘shakey egg’ type rattles, from Land of Nod , the B. ParumPumPum Drum which includes 7 different instruments, $29.95 from Amazon.com, and maybe the Little Tykes Baby Tap a Tune Piano, $14.95 at Buy Buy Baby.
But chances are you already have plenty of rattlers, tootlers, janglers and drums rolling around your living room. You can also put dry beans in a well-sealed Tupperware container, and bang on old plastic food containers with lightweight kitchen utensils. Plastic kazoos come a dozen in a bag for 2$ at party stores; the babies might not quite figure them out, but what mom among you doesn’t love a kazoo? Encourage each mom you invite to bring her baby’s favorite noisemaker and an extra to share. Provide antibacterial wipes to mop up drool at pack-up time.
Plan to sing a few simple songs, ones everyone knows; Row RowRow Your Boat, Old Mac Donald, If You’re Happy And You Know It, ABC, Wheels On The Bus and Twinkle Twinkle are great ice breakers, but might also be enough. Expect the babies and the moms to poop out after a lot of raucous yodeling. If you’re looking for fresh material, try BusSongs.com for more song ideas, and print out one or two sheets of lyrics to share around (no need to use up all your printer ink.)
You’ll also need a bunch of babies. Invite 4 or 5 moms you know, via email, to simplify responding. Not everyone will be able to make it, so be open to those moms inviting other moms; you might meet someone great! Ask everyone to RSVP, but expect foils by exploding diaper disaster, emerging croup, or slamming migraine; it happens to the best of us.
New Faces, New Places!
Still somewhat new to the social mom scene? Check out Queens Mama’s article ‘Where And How to Meet Cool Moms Online,’or try a Meetup group such a ‘Moms of North East Queens’ or‘The Queens and Long Island Working Moms’ Meetup group, whose salutary banner reminds us, “All moms are working moms!” Tell it, sisters!
The Central Queens Y on 108th Street in Forest Hillshas a range of classes and groups for infants and new moms, and La Leche League, Intl. has groups and meetings in locations throughout Queens, and welcomes all nursing moms.
But no matter where you go or what you join, nothing beats good old-fashioned friendliness. If you have one even one mom pal, don’t be too shy to invite yourself along when she mentions a playdate with someone else. Make eye contact in every group setting, and offer kind comments. It’s always true to say, “Your baby is so beautiful!” And everyone appreciates hearing it. Asking a mom in a class, in a Starbucks, or on line in a store, where she got her stroller / diaper bag / snowsuit / etc. will start a conversation any time. If you feel funny asking a neat new mom you met to get together, try offering your contact information, by saying something like, “Take my cell number. Maybe we can have a playdate some time!”
Get Ready, Get Set, Sing!
Now that you’ve got a gaggle of gals and their 411s, choose a mid-morning time when moms and babies have energy, but before nap, with subtle limits, like “Come on over for music and mischief at my place from 10-ish to early lunch; my baby will crash by 11:30.” Some moms will want to attend so much that they will bring a napper in situ, so make your bedroom the quiet area for sleepers, and leave the door open just a crack. Have plenty of changing blankets handy and help your pals feel at home. Hang a diaper-garbage bag on the handle of your front door; last out will toss it down the chute for you.
Don’t stress yourself out over-preparing. You may want to vacuum your living room rug and freshen the potty, but this is a time for moms and babies to relax; remember, everyone likes you more when you’re not a better housekeeper than they are.
Put Fido in an extra room if you have one, or baby-gate him in the kitchen, unless everyone agrees he can join in the fun. And do let moms know in advance if you have cats. Don’t feel pressured to provide food or drinks except for ice water, or coffee only if it’s convenient. You may want to say something in your invite like, “We have coffee, Cheerios, and grapes. Please bring whatever you would like for yourself and baby.” Because once you start serving serious snacks, it’s money, it’s allergies, it’s presentation, and the wheels come off the wagon.
Inviting your mom pals over to sing may seem awkward at first, but when the instruments come out and the babies go ga-ga for them, you’ll see smiles all around. Chances are it’ll become a weekly get-together or playgroup, no registration required.