This week, we’re going to talk about getting out of the house with our kids and things to do in our local community. But before we get into that, we just want to say thank you for being here. We recognize that, in this world, there are so many things that you can tune into, so many things that you can listen to and watch, and your time is precious and valuable. The fact that you’re choosing to spend it with us just means so much to us. So, thank you.

Our Recent Glimmer & Dimmer

We’re going to start with our glimmer and dimmer. This week, Rachel has the dimmer and Ashlee has the glimmer.

Rachel’s April Dimmer

Mine’s just kind of boring, and it’s a dimmer. Ashlee and I have had to reschedule recording this video several times because my kids have been sick. It wasn’t just one sickness. Everybody got through the throw-up sickness. And then everybody went through the next sickness. And then the next new sickness.

So, I mean, it was about half of March that we were home sick. It just was not fun at all. We’re finally on the other side of it—except my husband. My husband napped today. When he’s sick, he takes lots of baths. I just feel so bad that everybody has had to get it.

But I think the worst one was the throw-up sickness. My daughter, Ellie, had it first. The next day, we were supposed to go to our family’s cabin like we do every Saturday. Even though my one-and-a-half-year-old was throwing up, I still decided that it would be a good idea to go to the cabin.

Besides, she had paused throwing up that morning. She’d even fallen asleep. I planned to drive to the cabin while she slept. Well, she probably threw up at the cabin seven times.

Then she stopped. I was relieved, only to realize my next kid, Brecken, caught it. Great. On our way home from the cabin, my son threw up all over my car. It smelled horrible. We finally got home around seven that night and everybody needed baths and my car had throw-up in it.

Because my husband was out of town, I called my dear mom. She came over and cleaned the throw-up out of my car while I was upstairs doing bath time. Once I finished with baths, I took a shower while the kids were downstairs watching a movie. While I’m taking my shower, my oldest comes up and says, “Mommy, Brecken threw up all over the stairs!”

My poor mom had just finished cleaning the car, but she comes in with her little green machine and gets to work = on the stairs right away. Bless her heart. She’s a saint.

It’s so real-life mom, though. All moms have towels to put down when the kids are throwing up. Or a spare mattress they can use to sleep next to the kids, just so that we don’t have to clean up our own mattresses. Do you ever hear the faintest little sound and you’re awake with the bowl in your hand ready to catch throw up? Because that was me. I don’t even know how we wake up that quickly. It’s like a super power that I wish I could have for myself in the morning.

Anyway, I’m so glad to be on the other side of those illnesses and seeing my kids laughing, dancing and singing again.

Ashlee’s April Glimmer

Mine’s got some good humor in it, too, OK? I’m seeing this one as a glimmer.

This morning, I had a few things I needed to get done, like respond to text messages. While I’m sitting there on my phone, my three-year-old, Levi, comes up to me and says, “Mom, I want to play with you.”

I respond, “OK, bud, I need to finish this first.” It’s Saturday morning and there are three other people in the house, so I was expecting him to wander around and find someone else to play with while I finished my tasks. Responding to my texts is taking me a little bit longer than I expected, anyway.

But, he actually was persistent. He asked me a few more times, but was really patient when I held firm. All of a sudden, he dashed off down the hallway. He came back and said, “Mom, I just set a two-minute timer for you. And when the timer goes off, then you can play with me.”

I couldn’t believe it. If you saw our last episode, we talked about how I set a timer and give my kids two minutes to wrap up whatever they’re doing before transitioning to another task to help regulate everyone’s big emotions. And he totally did that. He parented me.

It was so awesome that I said, “You bet, bud!” All while thinking, “I’m not sure I’m going to be done with this in two minutes, but I will be because you’re following through with what I’ve been teaching you at home.”

It was a mom win. So, even though I didn’t get to finish what I was doing, it was OK because there was no fighting. There was no angriness. And when the timer went off, we went and played because I wanted to be sure I was enforcing his behavior. Expectations should go both ways.

Why You Should Get Out of the House with Your Kids

Getting out with your kiddos creates community, helps handle our big emotions and mental health, and gives us new experiences and new people. It also helps create a pause, which we’ve talked about before, or a much-needed break from your responsibilities inside the house. Once we step outside, it feels like everything that was inside that was noisy and needed us can wait. When I’m outside, I’m not worried about so much anymore. And I’m way more present with my kids.

Common Struggles That May Prevent You From Leaving the House

There are plenty of struggles when trying to leave your home with littles. We could be tired or the weather could be bad. There are a lot of different reasons that we’ve experienced in our littles’ lives that have made us not want to go out that day. But ultimately, we need that break, too. We need to step out of the house probably just as much as our kids do. we regret it when we don’t.

Household Chores

Some moms see their home as their safe space. I think home should be a safe place for everyone and our kids, but when we’re at home, there’s an endless to-do list. I look around think, “Well, I may as well throw in some laundry” or “I should unload the dishwasher” or do some other chores. Oftentimes, during these tasks, my youngest will say, “Mommy, come sit with me. Mommy, come do this.”

I usually respond with “Just let me finish this one thing.” But sometimes in my mind I wonder, “Is this what I really need to be doing right now? I really should be here sitting with my child. That’s what I want to be doing.”

But we also have houses to maintain. It’s real life. Balancing those responsibilities is really hard. So sometimes just removing yourself from a space with distractions and things that need to get done can help you to focus on your kids.

Strict Schedules

My biggest barrier is currently my kid’s napping routine. Every day at one in the afternoon, I need to be home. From 1:00 to 3:00, my child is sleeping at home. So, when I’m looking at our day, I realize that if we don’t do anything in the morning, that means we’re going to be home from the time we wake up until mid-afternoon. That’s a really long day for me to be sitting in our house. I tend to feel cooped up if I don’t go do things.

So in my current situation, I find it works best for me to go do something in the morning. Here’s our tentative family schedule for the week:

  • Monday: Ashlee and I meet at the library for story time with Miss Diane in the morning. Here, our kids get to pick out books for the week. Then, my daughter goes to school. After school is gymnastics.
  • Tuesday: We usually have a small plan (like grocery shopping) in the morning, and my son goes to preschool in the afternoon.
  • Wednesday: Swim lessons for my son in the morning and gymnastics after my daughter gets out of school.
  • Thursday: Preschool in the afternoon and a standing playdate with Ashlee afterwards.
  • Friday: This is our long day. My daughter’s dance lessons don’t get done until 6:30. My son has nothing planned, so I hope for a nice day outside so that we can keep busy at a park.
  • Saturday: My family goes to our not-so-fancy, homemade cabin built in 1928 on 90 acres in the woods. I grew up going there. My dad’s grandpa built it. It’s only about 25 minutes away, and there’s nothing to do there except be with my kids away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, my kids play outside with sticks, we make a fire and it’s wonderful.
  • Sunday: No plan.

Having a routine is good for my kids because my almost seven-year-old knows what’s happening. She can recognize that today is Monday, which means that she has gymnastics after school. I know that not everybody has the same schedule constraints, like Ashlee doesn’t have kids who nap anymore, so she’s a little bit more flexible.

But not having structure can throw you for a loop, too. With all that flexibility in a schedule, it makes it so that sometimes we let the days get away from us a little bit. Ashlee can realize at two in the afternoon that she hasn’t left the house. By then, it’s too late because she needs to go pick up the girls in an hour.

Negative Emotions

Lately, I can feel very overstimulated very quickly, whether it’s noise or the things I have to do. Some of it has been because of hard family circumstances that have eaten up emotional energy that I have. Not having all of that reserved energy can suddenly make hearing three requests at the same time from my kids, or a loud noise, or whatever, really overstimulating.

The world quiets down outside for me, though. The only things that really matter in those moments is being present. So find whatever quiets the negative emotions for you—like being outside or exercising together as a family—and be willing to do the tedious preparation for those activities.

For example, with Rachel’s cabin, every week she thinks, “Ugh, this is so much work to do this. I have to pack up snacks and coats for every kid if it’s cold. We need to remember a toy for our dog and some stuff to play baseball. Then, we spend forever loading up the car. When we get home, I always want to wash my car because the cabin is on a dirt road. The kids need baths before bed. It’s a full day. Do I really want to do this?”

But every single time we get home, we’re so glad we did it.

What You Need to Be Successful Out of the House with Kids

What are your go-tos when you go to get out of the house? What are the things you need to just be successful?

Convenient Destination

This mom on Instagram, @chanwiththeboys, talks about how it doesn’t have to be complicated to leave the house. As a mom, you don’t always have to do kid-centered things, either. It doesn’t always have to be the zoo. It doesn’t have to be things that are intended for kids. If you need to go to Target, go to Target and bring your kids with you.

I did this last week with my son. I bought macaroons and ate them in the store while he played in the toy section. Before we went, I reminded him that we weren’t going to buy any of the toys and he respected that. We had a great time, and I didn’t spend too much.

Minimal Toys

This same Instagram mom took her three boys to a coffee shop. She said the only thing that she brought to entertain them was a tape measure. That’s it. She turned it into a game with her kids. She’d say, “Go measure that table over there!” And they’d all run over, stay busy for 45 seconds and then come back. Then, she’d repeat the process, “OK, go measure that chair.”

Sometimes, we make it so complicated in our minds and think we need to entertain our kids. We want to be present in their lives, but at the same time, we don’t always want to be their entertainers. At the cabin, my kids are so happy with sticks. Other than a baseball, I don’t bring toys.

When you get outside, they might feel bored at first. That’s normal. They’re understimulated. It’s good for your kids to be bored. It forces their minds to think of something to do. You’ve just got to give it some time.

Snacks & Water

I usually need a snack and water, too, obviously. Or we can have a snack right before we leave, and then we can get out the door. At least with these items, I know we’re going to last a little while and be OK for a long time out of the house.

Rachel always has her snack bag. It’s become a little bit of a crutch. We will have just eaten breakfast, and then I’ll go to swimming lessons with my son. On the way he asks, “Can I have a snack bag?” Because he knows if we’re leaving, I have the snack bag. So I don’t know. Gauge that one for what’s going to be best for you and your family.

Change of Clothes

I also grab an extra pair of clothes. Because that way, when we’re out and about and the kids get dirty, I don’t care. I can just shrug it off. It’s fine. They’re clothes. They’re washable. Even my kids are washable, so it doesn’t matter if they get muddy or grassy.

If I have extra clothes, I’m not stressed about them getting back into the car. They can play unrestrained. That’s why I’ll keep an extra set of clothes in the car. Now, obviously, that’s different when I had younger children. My older kids do even better. But younger, you’re going to need a diaper bag.

Favorite Places to Go with Our Kids

Here’s where we love to take our littles for kid-friendly activities in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska:

  • We already mentioned the library.
  • We love a local resource, Macaroni KID, which has family-friendly events that are either free or really, really inexpensive. You can probably find the Macaroni KID equivalent in your area.
  • We also like to go to the zoo or an aquarium if you have annual passes.
  • Another favorite is walking around Scheels. They have a playground, a Ferris wheel and kids meals with a giant ice cream cone for like $5.
  • Similarly, I used to have some mom friends that would meet up over at Chick-fil-A. The kids would have fun in the indoor play area.
  • We can’t forget The Little Red Farm in Palmyra, Nebraska. It’s a cute farm with pigs, chickens and cows. They do story time once or twice a month for kids. After story time, you can feed the chickens. That’s how we met and became friends as moms.

Know that we’re in this with you. We’re working on leaving our homes with our kids more, too. Maybe we’ll see you out there. You don’t need to do motherhood alone. Come join our village exactly as you are.

Ashlee Hendricks

Ashlee Hendricks

Real Life Conversations Host

I am a mom to three awesome kids: Ellie, Anna, and Levi. My husband Jon works as a professor at the UNL Business College. While we are not natives to Lincoln (this year marks five years in Nebraska), I did grow up on a dairy farm in southwest Missouri and feel quite at home here. I work as a full-time mom and a part-time nurse at a clinic here in town.

As a family, we are happiest outside and having adventures. We lived in South Carolina before moving here so we’ve had to toughen up quite a bit! We love biking, camping and anything involving water. I have been supported and inspired by so many amazing women and men along my parenting journey. Rachel and I have talked a lot about our shortcomings and wins as moms. I hope as we share some of our story that you’ll find some relatable information that can nurture and inspire you wherever you are on your journey as a parent. We are all in this together!

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson

Real Life Conversations Host

I was born and raised in Lincoln. I am a stay-at-home-mom to three amazing kids named Ellie, Brecken, and Finley. I worked as a PE teacher at Scott Middle School for 8.5 years and turned into a SAHM when my second kiddo was born. I love being home with my kids. It is so fulfilling to me to be home with them through each stage, to care for them and to be a part of the little details and the big moments in their lives.

My husband, John, is a men’s gymnastics coach at the University of Nebraska. Our kids love to go to the gym and play. We love that they now have a relationship with the college athletes. It is really fun. Go Big Red! I am very excited to be chatting about things motherhood here on CapitalMom. I hope you enjoy and are able to relate as we share our motherhood journeys

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