Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Y not?

I've discovered that it is critical - absolutely positively I cannot put enough of an emphasis on just how critical it is - to get out of the house first thing in the morning with our children.

Right after breakfast.

The energy levels are high, all around, and we cannot stay inside.

We. CANNOT. Stay. Inside.

Some days we go for a walk, some days we go to the park, some days we have play dates, some days we go to the zoo, and some days, I'll buck up and we all go to the store. But only if we are running out of critical items. After my past few shopping experiences, I've decided it is less painful having a toenail removed than going shopping, by myself, with all four children.

One of the great challenges in my life, is to find things that will keep the kids positively entertained and won't cause me undue stress or bore me to absolute tears. It might sound surprising, but there are only so many times a person can go to a park, walk around the block, or go to the zoo, before they have the urge to walk off a pier. Being a stay-at-home parent can be an extremely rewarding experience. But it can also be terribly mundane and frustrating if you don't plan your day appropriately.

Suffice to say, I'm always on the look out for new things to do.


I don't think I've mentioned it, but I recently canceled our gym membership. At least a year ago, I decided that bringing the kids to Kid Kamp while I tried to work out, was more of a hassle than a convenience. And since I could never get myself out of the house early in the morning before everyone woke up - and didn't feel like going in the evening after a full day with the kids - I stopped going.

But, I held on tightly to the hope that I might one day return. So tightly did I hold on to that hope, that I never once touched the contents of my gym bag.

For twelve months, we continued to pay $59.98 a month, before finally coming to our senses. If our gym had been more family-oriented, with classes geared towards children, I might have stuck it out. But because our gym was strictly a place for adults to exercise, Charlie and I ultimately decided that we needed the commitment of a gym membership about as much as we needed another dog.

Lately, I've been thinking about signing the kids up for swimming lessons. I had considered teaching them myself, because one of my very first jobs was as a swim instructor. Although taking all four of the children, on my own, to the pool seemed a little daunting. Even though I could handle the triplets just fine, I would worry about Henry sitting in his stroller while I was in the pool blowing bubbles.

Because three is a great age to start swimming lessons, this morning I decided to go on a fact-finding mission at the local YMCA.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are from the days when I was enrolled in gymnastics and tennis classes at the YMCA. At least two summers were spent at the YWCA's Camp Burgess Glen in the mountains of North Carolina where my mother was camp nurse.

Oh, I'll never forget ... "Bickety Burgess glickety Glenn is mickety mighty fickety fine and wickety we are glickety glad you're here, here, here, here! So wickety what care we how noisy we bickety be, for bickety Burgess Glenn will cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer!"

For several years, it seemed that I spent every waking hour at the YMCA. Until my sixth grade year when I dove off a diving block during a swim meet - hit my face on the bottom of the pool, sprung a bloody nose - and embarrassed myself in front of God and creation. And, the cutest boy in school. That put an abrupt end to my YMCA experience.

But that was over 20 years ago.

Once we arrived at the YMCA this morning, I felt a surge of energy. I don't know why I hadn't considered this before!! Our children would grow up knowing and loving the YMCA just as I had, as a child!! They would take classes and it would give us something new and exciting to do each week!! This is a much better alternative to me walking straight off a pier!!

I strapped Henry in to the Bjorn while the kids climbed out of the car. I gave everyone instructions. We need to hold hands and walk nicely. Once inside the building, we need to keep our hands to ourselves. There is to be no pushing, screaming or yelling. Everyone needs to pay attention to what I say and stick close with me. Sounds easy enough.

Holding hands we all walked carefully across the parking lot. We walked in to the lobby and up to the front desk and I told the clerk that I was interested in their swimming lessons. She handed me a brochure on the various classes and aquatics, but it was at least an inch thick, if it wasn't a foot.

Almost instantly, the kids laid down on the floor, blocking the entrance in to the facility. When I finally got everyone to stand up, they started pulling things off the counter. Hitting the lever on the drinking fountain. Banging on the fish tank. Opening the glass doors to the exercise class. Taking off their shoes. Running in three separate directions.

It would have been easier to corral feral cats.

I tried quickly flipping through the pages of the brochure to find out when the classes were meeting, what was the age range, dration and cost. There were words on the page, I could see them. But they held absolutely no meaning because I was so preoccupied trying to keep my children from destroying the front half of the YMCA.

I wanted to ask the front desk clerk to just sign me up for something. ANYTHING. But I knew that she couldn't do that. Only I knew what time and day of the week worked best. So while I stood with the brochure in my hands, wishing that the exact class I needed would magically POP out of the page at me, the kids started disrobing and manically laughing.

Grabbing for little hands, I pulled everyone outside and tried to speed read the brochure while standing on the front lawn. Children were running wildly around me. One was trying to climb a tree, one was trying to pick flowers from a pot and one was trying to climb in to the trashcan.

Finally, I herded everyone back inside and said to the front desk clerk "Hey, I know! Where's your kid center? You have one, right??"

The clerk hesitated and said "Well, yes, but it's for members only and members need to make a reservation 24 hours in advance to drop off their child. "

In a previous life, I wouldn't have pushed the issue. But as I stood in the lobby of the YMCA with my children that were now trying to climb over the counter and grab the telephone, I responded "Well, that may be. But if I'm ever going to become a member, I really need a moment of peace to read your brochure."

While the clerk made a few calls, I stood thinking about what I had said. At no point had I considered membership. My only goal had been to sign our children up for a class or two.

Yet within 30 minutes, I had signed up our entire family for membership. I also signed our children up for gymnastics that begin in three weeks and soccer, T-ball, basketball and swimming lessons that start in January. There is an additional charge for each of the classes the children take, but the cost for members is substantially less than for non-members.

The more I thought about it, the more I decided this is a good thing. Not only is our monthly "family" membership a dollar less than what we were paying to the gym (or, $31.00 less from what I had been paying when the kids were signed up, too), I will have the opportunity to exercise.

Provided I have any energy left after the daily power walks I've been taking with the kids.

Now, I'm off to go get another dog.


  1. God BLESS YOU Jenn!
    Oh my heavens seeing you hurts my back!
    Hugs and Great Idea!

  2. your favorite sis11/6/07, 5:57 PM

    That is absolutely CRAZY! But looks like a better workout than you'd get at the gym! Love ya, can't wait to c ya!

  3. I think various family-oriented centers should consider that for their slogan: "MUCH BETTER alternative than walking off a pier."

  4. Good grief! A child on your front AND back? Maybe you should be signing up for something elsewhere . . . perhaps with mental health facilities?


  5. The girls just started classes at the Y this week (and of course are sick already). Music in Motion on Mondays, Tumble tots on tuesdays and Creative Movement on weds. I LOVE the Y!! Now I just need to motivate myself to sign up for some classes while I am there.........

  6. We love the Y! It's great, cheap and half the time I go just for an hour with a "free" babysitter!

    You have to call 24 hours in advance for the babysitter there?? We can come in when we want and drop our monsters, I mean kids off...now that's what I love...when the house gets crazy, we pack up and go to the Y!

  7. I think that is a great idea. I just cannot remember where the Y is? Is it a far ride? I love the Y and you will meet people there and I think it is great. I remember walking with all my children down town every day. I guess I must have had two in the carriage at a time and the other four walking. I forget, but that hill in Maynard was a killer coming up. I also remember walking with you and the dog and people would stop and admire the DOG!
    Great fun days. Sounds like the kids are perfectly normal to me. Remember Betty Koehler and the whisper.

  8. I am SO GLAD to hear that I am not the only person who packs everyone up and heads out the door EVERY morning after breakfast. And if we don't, I completely lose my mind.

    I am currently also on the prowl for new activities, and I never thought of the Y -- what a great idea! I'm off to check our local schedule....

  9. Splendid idea, Jen! I think this is exactly what the kids need! Excellent move! They are going to love the classes and you won't need to jump off the pier! Right after mine turned three, I started figuring out how to get them in one class a day, first thing in the morning. Has to be first thing in the morning. Don't do afternoon or late morning classes. BAAADDDD idea. Trust me. But good for you!!!! You can drop them all off and go sit in the sauna. :)

  10. I cannot believe you find it possible to power walk with all of those kids hanging off of you! You are amazing!

  11. You are amazing! I love the picture you posted... what a beautiful green background!! Although I can't imagine having a toddler on my back and baby on my front... bless you! :)

    Have fun at the Y!

  12. Don't jump!
    Don't jump off the pier. The Y will be great fun for all of you.
    But Good Lord! How DO you carry two children like that?
    I was always one who had to get out of the house in the mornings too. In fact, I'm still in that habit - if I have errands to run I feel the need to get them done first thing. I'm still on toddler time and my kids are 13 and 16.

  13. I don't know if you've seen it, but they make a bjorn-style carrier that is waterproof, so you could even take Henry in the water with you. I think I saw it in One Step Ahead catalog? Maybe. LOVE the picture!!

  14. Ooh my... YMCA childcare! You are brilliant... You don't actually have to workout right? You can just go get a latte, right?

    On a side note: Tag! (check out mah blog for more details.)

  15. I love the Y! It is the ONLY place in town that has childcare...hope it works out well for you!

  16. You walk with two kids strapped to you, pushing two kids in a stroller AND managing a dog?! What do you need the gym for?!

  17. What happened to Camp Burgess Glen I loved going there I went in 1988 for a week I remember my dad saying i cried because I didn't want to go and I cried because I didn't want to come home it was so much fun...I wish my daughter could experience what I did but things are so different now...does anyone know when it closed why it closed and the actual address

  18. I had no idea that Burgess Glen wasn't around anymore? I'd suggest contacting the Greenville Y and asking if they have any information. It WAS a fantastic camp - I, too, would love to send our girls there, or somewhere comparably cool. Good luck!!