Well, we moved! The adjustment period has been quite a transition because I have been pregnant this entire time…. Baby Girl #2 is coming in May!
I have learned a lot about city living:
- Ditch the purse and grab a back-pack. Make sure to have reusable bags, because wherever you go, you have to pay for plastic bags. Reminder: only buy what you can carry.
- If the temperature outside says anything less than 30 degrees, plan on it feeling anywhere from 10-15 degrees colder because of the wind whipping off the lake. That means having extra gloves and a hat on your toddler, no matter what they say.
- If it hasn’t snowed in awhile, it doesn’t matter, you may still need to bundle your toddler up in a snowsuit to make sure that they stay warm enough when going on walks.
- Ride the bus, but make sure you have plenty of antibacterial hand wipes for your toddler. Plan on a 20-30 minute car ride to your destination, otherwise anticipate an extra 15-30 minutes on the bus… but you’ll have a better commuting experience and only pay about two bucks to ride.
- If you take your kid to a public (free) play area, make sure you change their clothes as soon as you get home, give them a bath, and have them wash their hands before leaving and as soon as you get home.
- In some areas of Chicago, people seem to value their pets more than children. So watch where you step, because many people like to leave their dog feces right where you and your kid would step. Also, make sure that you communicate that little Miss Toddler-pants cannot touch or eat discolored snow. Actually, I never thought I would have to rebuke my kid for touching snow at all, to be honest…. I wonder how everyone would feel if I just let my toddler poop everywhere and not clean it up (since they think it is ok to let their dogs do that on the sidewalks). Just wondering….
- Be wary of false advertising. I signed up for a local gym that promised great childcare while you do your workouts and they boasted prenatal massages. To start, all three of their masseuses had no idea how to accommodate a pregnant lady (it all came straight out of their mouths). The childcare area had one person in a small room “watching” the kids. However, she doesn’t change diapers, so as soon as your kid gets dropped off and drops a deuce in their diaper, they will probably have to sit in their poop for the entire duration of your exercise regimen (like a full hour if you go to workout class). Needless to say, I didn’t keep my membership there for very long.
- Make sure to check the hours of businesses before you go anywhere (duh!). But who would think the local library wouldn’t open until noon on Mondays and Wednesdays? Weird. Speaking of libraries, don’t expect much. There aren’t crafts and toys and awesome things like there are in the suburbs. The group classes usually seem to have no fewer than 30-40 kids signed up. So it takes almost the full amount of time just to sing everyone’s name.
- If you even think of trying to find other stay-at-home moms… think again. Everyone has a nanny or their preschooler is in, well, preschool. Once someone finds out you stay at home, there is that look in their eye like something is seriously wrong with you – like you’re too dumb to work. Let’s just say, meeting other moms that stay at home with their preschooler is actually a harder thing to do than you would think being surrounded by millions of people.
- Ask questions and talk to people. So many people don’t engage others within their community. They are glued to the smart(dumb)phones and literally don’t interact. Once you start getting that network of people you see regularly, like the dry-cleaner, or the Walgreen’s checker-outer, you will begin to find at least five minutes of your day, a couple days a week, engaged in non-toddler discussion. Its amazing.
- You have to pay to go anywhere… including church. You have options: ride the bus, drive your car and park or take a Lyft/taxi/Uber. These options may include a two-hour ride there and back (the bus), finding a parking meter in a tight spot (hello parallel parking), or paying $20-30 round trip (excluding tip for taxi/ride-sharing services) for each church service attended.
- When your kid wants to blow bubbles outside, you have two options: take them to the back deck/parking lot where the wind is whipping at 20 mph, or take them to the front where it is sunnier and warmer. I always opt for the front stoop. However, I probably say “watch out!” about 20 times as she runs into the legs of those that are walking by while she is trying to catch a bubble. Sorry – but not sorry.
- For the most part, you won’t get a lot of visitors. People may come to the city to see the sites, but they won’t look you up. Many people won’t find time to come out for a day to visit, but the expectation is that you better come back to visit them, even if it is an hour drive one way.
- Enjoy the free moments with your precious little friend(s). These moments are fleeting. I have found that I have more free time than I ever could have imagined. I spend a lot of time with my Honey Badger and more time reading. I enjoy the simple moments of life and new experiences.
Again, these are learning experiences. Life experiences. I am not intimidated with the city like I used to be. I have had more new experiences in the last five months than I may have had in the suburbs in three years. I have learned a lot about people and about myself. I have learned a lot about how millions of people live completely differently than people in the suburbs. Its great to be within walking distance of almost everything I need. It is awesome to see random things happen everywhere. I miss having a yard to watch my daughter play, but on the flip side, we get to share a lot of public spaces with a lot of wonderful people. As the weather gets warmer, we are going to continue to explore.
I hope this experience makes me kinder and more loving and wiser.
I am nervous going into the season of having a second Honey Badger living here, but I know it will all work out. It will be a continuation of our city adventure!