For many of us, this is the hardest week of the year. Well, maybe not for the jet setting crowd, but for the rest of us that have to keep our kids busy for the days between the last day of school and the first day of camp, this week can be a real motherfu**er, in every sense of the word.
Not sure what to do with your brood? Instead of facing an unplanned week of timeouts and spacing out in front of the TV, why not spend your school/camp purgatory…
- At a water park. Sure it’s totally cheesy, but you know your kids go wild for water! Think about how much fun they have splashing in the bathtub (no matter how many times you beg them to stop) and multiply that by a million PLUS you don’t have to clean up the mess. Check out local parks like the Hidden Creek Aqua Park in Highland Park, IL that has daily rates for residents and non-residents. Thankfully, just because you don’t pay taxes in the area, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a water slide or two.
- At an amusement park. You might not live in Mickey’s backyard, but you probably have an amusement park somewhere within driving distance. And although, your kids might not be big enough to ride the roller coasters that have “death” or “drop” in the name, you may be surprised to find out that most parks have fun and games for kids of all ages. Six Flags Great America has plenty of rides, shows, games and parades for the less-than-4-footers to enjoy, but do yourself a favor and avoid the weekend crowds by hitting the park Monday-Thursday.
- At a restaurant. I know this sounds silly, because you probably go out with your kids often, but I’m talking about dining at a restaurant that is totally NOT kid-friendly. Pick a place that you’ve been dying to try and make an early lunch resie for a long, leisurely meal. My theory? While it’s not cool to bring kids to a fancy restaurant at night when adults, especially other parents, may be trying to enjoy a date night, during the day, young foodies are more than entitled to fine dine. You might want to avoid the restaurants that have a heavy working crowd-no need for your kids to interrupt a Facebook IPO lunch meeting-but almost anywhere else should work. RL in Chicago opens at 11AM and has outdoor seating right off of Michigan Avenue, so you can eat and people watch while you lunch. Just make sure to make a date with another mom/kid couple…at least all eyes won’t be on you.
- At a picnic. Why only hit the playground between meals? Instead, bring your lunch or dinner along with you. Let the kids run around for a little while and then take a break to refuel in the shade. Stuff your stroller with blankets, sandwiches, water bottles and snacks and make a day of it. Want to be the coolest mom at the park? Bring bubbles!
- At the movies. If you haven’t tried it yet, taking the kids to the movies during the day, during the week, is as painless as attempting to take the kids to a movie is going to be because it’s all moms and kids. And since no one is as sympathetic as another mom, you will probably not have to deal with complaints from fellow movie-goers when your kid starts talking to the characters in Madagascar 3. If you’re still skeptical about having to keep quiet and seated in a theater, look into your local park district’s movies in the park for a family-friendly date night with the kids!
Whatever you do, do not spend your time stressing out over your plans. Sometimes the best laid plans, blah, blah, blah, so there’s nothing wrong with waking up and figuring out your day based on everyone’s mood. Don’t worry if you don’t have every second filled with activity. After all, there’s no time like summer to chill out a little, mom!