For longer than I’ve been a mom, I’ve been an apartment dweller. We had a condo in Virginia, and now, in Vienna, we live in a beautiful attic apartment. I used to dream of having a house with a big yard . . . maybe even enough space to keep the horses at home. But over the years, I’ve really become a fan of apartment living. Frankly, I spend all the time I care to cleaning and maintaining the interior of my home — if I had to worry about the outside, too, it would either require more energy to keep up, or more energy to devote to stressing about NOT keeping it up.
As such, I’ve never had it particularly easy in terms of taking my kids outside. It’s always been somewhat of an ordeal. “Going outside to play” has always meant socks and shoes, typically the stroller, and almost always a walk to the park or playground. Our old apartment had a little bit of space out front where we could color with chalk (a purpose fulfilled by our terrace in our current place) but if we wanted to play ball or run around in the grass, it was always a “big deal” to get ready to go.
I’ve always made a point to do it anyway. I like getting outside with my kids, and I know they enjoy it (and even when they don’t, I know it’s good for them) but I still haven’t done it as often as I would have if it were easy and in close proximity to my front door. (And I’ve always had some regret about the socks and shoes thing — I think there is a lot to be experienced by simply stepping, barefoot, through your front door and entering the world.)
Here, visiting my mom, we’re able to just walk through the front door and be outside. I took the kids out to play ball this afternoon, and it took me about 2 minutes to get them ready to go (and then, only because I had to search out hats for the sun). We didn’t take a stroller or a diaper bag. We played outside for only a few minutes, because it was hot, and almost nap time, but it was so easy to get out there that it didn’t feel like a waste to only be outside for a bit. When some friends and family came over this evening, we went out again — and again, it took only moments to prepare.
We still haven’t tried going barefoot (Liam is too little, and Benjamin is too afraid . . . of ants . . . to try it) but we will. So far, just having the outdoors so accessible is lovely. It’s something I miss, living in an apartment, and living in the city. I’m glad my boys are getting a chance ot just “go outside” so easily.