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Monday, March 19, 2012

#1 Sane-Parent Tip: Join the Y

I can't speak for all YMCA branches in the country, but if you have pre-school or school-age kids in the Rochester area, you must join the Y. The exercise classes, the child watch room, and the programs will make the monthly fee well worth it. We belong to the Southeast Branch but we've also utilized the facilities at Eastside as well as Camp Arrowhead.

What's In It For Mom & Dad? (or Mom & Mom, or Dad & Dad, or Baby Momma & Baby Daddy...)

With the warm weather finally here, many of us are dreading squeezing back into last year's shorts and swim suits. The Y can help! Around this time last year, I lost 16 post-postpartum pounds at the Y after I started going to step aerobics on Tuesdays and kickboxing on Thursdays. That was enough to finally start dropping the baby weight. This year I'm still going to step aerobics every week, but due to a scheduling conflict I replaced kickboxing with Body Combat and added a session on the treadmill once a week. Now I'm almost at my pre-first-baby weight.

There are so many great classes offered at all hours. If you prefer a solo routine, the indoor pool and the wellness center (treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, etc.) are excellent. Plus, the child watch and infant rooms are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays at the Southeast Branch; you might want to check the web site of your local facility for details. The child care service is included with family membership, and can be utilized for two hours per day per child. The staff members are wonderful with children; they will soothe the criers, read stories, play games, and even initiate sing-alongs to keep everyone happy. Your child(ren) will be in great hands while you workout.

In addition to your new sexy body, you can also gain a little me-time beyond your workouts. Our branch offers a Drop & Shop program where those with a family membership can reserve a time to drop off their kids at child watch and leave the facility for an hourly fee. The current rate is $7 per hour per child. This has made it so much easier for me to schedule appointments for me - doctor, dentist, hair cut, etc. When I was working, my oldest son attended child care and so I made those appointments for my lunch hour and didn't have to worry about him. When I became a stay-at-home mom, it was a struggle to schedule things for myself before I discovered the wonderful joy of Drop & Shop. I keep meaning to reserve a Drop & Shop time so I can actually shop or do something fun...but that's another story.

What's In It For the Kids?

The Y definitely fosters the development of social skills. When I first started bringing my youngest son to the child watch room, he was eight weeks old and didn't fuss. Several months later, he began crying every time I left him. It broke my heart, but I'd peek in the window after a few minutes to see him smiling and crawling toward some toys. Little stinker! Now he's two and I refer to him as the Mayor of Child Watch. He knows the names of the other regulars, he knows the names of the staff members, he knows which toy belong to which child. When we walk into the building, staff will greet him by name and he usually knows who they are as well. It cracks me up.

My four-year-old attends pre-school at the Y three days a week and he loves it. His teachers are wonderful; he gets so excited to see them each school day. They are so patient and have an endless supply of energy and creativity. This week he happens to be the VIP - the line leader in the hall, first to do activities, and the teachers will read to the class a book all about him that we filled out. The classes have a swim lesson one day a week, plus play time in the gym and in the Adventure Center so there's plenty of activity in addition to learning.

On nice days, we stay at the Y after school to play outside. It's like a social event for the kids and the parents. There is a playground in the back, but most of the time my boys want to play on the little slide, balance beams, and hop-scotch stones out front because that's where the most children are playing. Or we'll head to the side of the building where there are two trees that are perfect for climbing, and that also attract a crowd of kids. I pretty much have to bribe them to get them to leave, or wait until their little tummies are grumbling for lunch.

When it's rainy, snowy, or too hot to play outside, we head to the Adventure Center at the Y. It's basically a padded room where the kids can literally bounce off the walls. There are over-sized blocks to make towers and forts, there are slides, and even a tunnel. We go there to "get the sillies out" before dinner time.

During the summer, we utilize the outdoor pool and spray ground at Camp Arrowhead. They're open in the late afternoon during the week and a fellow ROCmomma had a great idea - she brings her two kids on Friday afternoons, and her husband picks up a pizza after work and meets them there to eat dinner and play.

Yes, it's a terrible photo but I couldn't bring myself to publicly post my husband or me in a swim suit. Above is the spray ground; the rainbow in the background has water showering down from each arc, and my husband is carrying our son through a spray coming up from the ground. There are all kinds of structures that get you soaked, but zero depth so you don't have to worry about little ones in a pool. Personally, I prefer spray grounds to pools any day of the summer.

What's In It For the Family?

The programming at the Y rocks. There are Family Fun Fridays with pizza for $1 per slice, free healthy snacks, crafts to make, family swim time in the pool, the Adventure Center is open, and a different activity in the gym every week. This month the activities have been rollerskating, fast fitness stations, family Zumba, and there's still movie night and an Easter egg hunt to come.

In December there is a candy cane hunt and in the Spring there is an Easter egg hunt at Camp Arrowhead. Both start with a pancake breakfast, followed by some crafts and indoor activities (December) or outdoor activities such as a bounce house (Spring). Then there is the hunt in the woods. We've been to both and had so much fun! Below is last year's candy cane hunt, followed by the Easter egg hunt (even my brother and his girlfriend joined the festivities). We'll be heading out for some pancakes and Easter eggs again on March 31st at Camp Arrowhead.

So if you live in the Rochester area, you have kids, and you want a little more sanity, my number one tip is: join the Y.

Thanks for reading! Please utilize the comments section - what do you like best about the Y? What's your #1 tip for staying sane? What do you do to be a fit & healthy ROCmomma or ROCpoppa?...

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