Clara is full of energy and getting into everything which is why I was dreading the idea of being shut inside all winter with a toddler bouncing off the walls. Going anywhere in the freezing cold is daunting with a small child and it turns out there are not a lot of structured activities or classes for under-2's.
Over the Spring, Summer and Fall I organized a meetup in the park for local moms with babies. We have a local yahoo group for parents and I posted there to see who might show up. I got a nice response - some became regulars, others drop-ins. We spread out blankets and brought some toys to share. It was a great way to meet other parents and have some adult conversation while the babies played. I also thought it really helped the babies. I could see Clara watching older kids who had mastered things she hadn't yet, and I could almost see the brain synapses firing. Inevitably she would start doing something she had watched another baby do a week or so later.
But with the cold weather closing in around us, what could be done? Along with a few other moms we have organized a weekly toddler playtime once a week in the Inwood Library Children's room. We sing some songs, read some books and watch the toddlers play. It is parent run - we came in and cleaned all the toys. We set up the toys and clean up at the end of the hour. But it's a huge success and Clara loves it.
This past Friday she amazed me by picking up a turtle figurine, bringing it to me and saying: "Turtle." Then she picked up a dinosaur with purple spots, pointed to one of the spots and said: "Purple." She smiled after each one, knowing she was rolling out something new for her Mommy. Just a little impressed with herself - and so she should be. I applauded.
I think there should be more activities like this for children under two. And not necessarily classes that cost money. All of us parents want our children to grow and challenge themselves to do more. Organize something - you'll be surprised how many people show up.