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Seasons changing, what's a mama to do in the dark?

Every year in late August I start looking at the sky fearfully each night, as the dark comes a few minutes earlier than the day before. There in the heat, I can feel the seasons changing, I can already sense the dark closing in around me, trapping me inside the way it will come November, December, January... ack! I am afraid of the dark. So is Debby, and she wonders just what she will do with her outdoor-loving two-year-old once the winter comes? And has anyone ever joined an evening playgroup for single mamas or those whose partners work at night? Last year we made a few suggestions for getting out in the dreary days: surely you have more!

I am not looking forward to the days getting shorter. My 2 year old daughter and I have spent almost every waking moment together at a park, zoo or other outside gathering place. She barely touches her toys anymore when we are home and is constantly running to the door and asking, "Outside now, Mommy?" I am worried sick about what will happen in the fall, when it is too dangerous to be walking home from the park in the dark, and then the winter, when it is dark before I even pick her up from day care.

I have a few ideas, like taking a class or two at the Mt. Scott community center, but after that, the only thing to do is go to the mall! And Stride Rite is about to get a restraining order against my daughter, who loves to sit on the floor for 15 minutes trying on every shoe there and ripping off price tags! So my question is, what is a mom to do all winter? Especially a single mom who can't take a few minutes to go on a solitary walk in the evening to escape the inevitable cabin fever?!? Has anyone ever developed evening play groups in their area, and if there are some, can I hear about one in SE? There must be some other working moms out there who crave some time with other moms while the kids play or snack. I am willing to start one up if there is any interest. What else do folks do with their toddlers/preschooler when the short, dark days arrive?


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I had the same experience when my son was little. One thing we enjoyed were the (free!) evening library programs. Some of them are geared for older kids, but most are toddler-friendly (bands, magicians, storytellers). I think that the children's librarian at each library is responsible for booking and scheduling, so you might find that you tend to like the performances at one library more than another. Poke around on the library website and see what you can find.

Another hint--if you live near an elementary school that is a SUN school, the school will have family nights scheduled throughout the year. My son's school, Sabin, has a Health and Wellness Fair, a Science Night, a Writing/Literacy Fair. Community members are invited and definitely welcome to come, whether you have school-age kids or not. It's a good time to check out the school, meet other parents (even if they have kids in school, many of them will have younger kids, too), and let your daughter run around in the gym or up and down the halls. We get lots of little kids at our events and they have a great time.

Hope you find some good solutions!

My hubby and I are from Wisconsin originally, so Portland's winters do not deter us from outdoor activities. We have lived in NoPo for the past ten years, and we for the past decade we have taken nightly hour-long walks in our neighborhood--all year long. Our son is five, and he first joined us in the jogging stroller (with rain fly:). Now, he rides his bike. Come winter, at 6:30 we all get geared up--rain coats, mittens, hats, etc... and head out for our nightly exercise. There are only a few days a season where it is too wet to ride/walk.

I don't go after dark by myself, but I do walk with my hubby at night. Never once have we felt in danger.

Another idea for winter fun: the Parks and Rec community center drop-in play parks http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/. We also had a membership (thanks Grandma and Grandpa:) to the Children's Museum and OMSI. Both offered stimulating inside activities for kids--and nice meeting places for moms.

Speaking of moms--we found playdates to be an essential way to beat the winter blahs. Nothing like being cooped up with a toddler in the winter to make you feel isolated. Playdates relieve some of that.

Good luck!


Hi Debby - have you looked into signing Tory up for swim class at Mt. Scott? It seems like the community centers offer swimming lessons year-round, and while they're a pretty intensive time commitment - the summer lessons have been 5 days/week - that may be what'd work for you, if you're looking for a way to let Tory get some extra energy out...

I'm glad you asked this question. I've been in denial about what's to come myself. Hope you find something that works well for you and for Tory.

I am a single Mom too--would love the evening playgroup. I'm in NE Alberta area though. I would be willing to travel to SE depending on how far it is. Kennedy school has free music and family dancing throughout the winter on most Thursday nights. I know some of the community centers have indoor park in the evening and/or family night once a month or so.

Karen, how old is your child(ren)? My very good friend lives in the NE Alberta area and I have another friend in the area who has a pre-schooler, so maybe we could trade off NE and SE if it works out. I like the idea of the Kennedy School...I love that place.

Hmmm. Yet another single mom of a 3-year-old who lives near NE Alberta here. Would love to get an update on an after-work Kennedy School get-together or evening playgroup if it happens. Sounds fun!

Add me to the NE Alberta mommies. I have a 3yr old and a 6mo old. Maybe we could look into using Milagro's family room in the evenings this fall / winter. Anyone have any other suggestions?

No one in the SE? I am the original poster, and although I am more than willing to travel every now and then, it would be good to find some new friends close to home too!!!:)

Debby, Wendy and Karen

I am a working mom, who lives in NE Alberta who would love to get together at the Kennedy school. I have been looking for a group of mamas in my area for a while. I see all these strollers on porches when I go around and wonder where everyone is? The soaking tub is free for neighbors and their is a community room that has a daytime group. Is anyone one interested in meeting around 4:30?

By the time I pick up my daughter from day care and could get there it would be after 6pm. I would be totally interested in meeting on some evening at that time. I live in FAR SE (south of Woodstock) so it would be a haul for me, but once and awhile it would work.

Diane: would absolutely love to meet some other moms/kids in the neighborhood. Can't get anywhere until about 6pm tho, similar to Debby. The patio at Vita Cafe is nice and kid-friendly too, while the weather holds!

Lets just pick a first time get together at a cafe that works for everyone and during that time we could come up with something more regular? How about Tuesday the 18th, 6pm Vita cafe.

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