When I became a parent, I retired my purse (for a massive diaper bag), my personal space, my sex drive, privacy, sleep, stain-free clothing, and a stretch-mark-free body.
What I got was an opportunity to teach my kid about the world, one boring task at a time. Toddler in Chief fits into my life the way my cell phone fits into the inside pocket of my diaper bag--snugly, the way it was intended. That means I do all the stuff I used to do, only I have a babbling sack of potatoes at my side.
When he was just a couple of months old, friends started taking their kids to music class, gymnastics, art class, Gymboree, mom and me yoga, swim class, and parent-child co-op programs, like Little Wonders. It was like they'd been programmed to believe that if they don't launch their kids into these structured classes, they'd miss out on critical learning opportunities.
The entire world is new to a baby! Banging on pots and pans to the beat of The Postal Service while I make dinner is probably better than the official and expensive music class. Plus I get dinner made, so benefits are two-fold. Some friends signed their child up for one or two weekly classes, which is a great way to get out of the house. Others booked themselves (ahem, I mean their kids) so heavily that they have a scheduled activity morning and afternoon every weekday, making it impossible to book a good, old-fashioned play date.
Too much structure is bad for parents because they will go insane carting the kids from activity to activity. It's bad for kids because they won't have time to explore their own imagination. Boredom is good for kids. I also believe that over-scheduling your child teaches them to be self-centered. If every day's schedule is dictated by the child's activities, then they will learn that the world has been built for their benefit and that mom is nothing but a cabby.
Toddler in Chief does what I do, and sharing my life with him is the most educational and rewarding class of all. He learns about the world because he's along for the ride, not in spite of that fact.