In a recent blog post called Living the Good Life in a Busy World, I shared ideas highlighted in Laura Vanderkam’s most recent book: I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. I was intrigued by the idea of creating a List of 100 Dreams, to make the most of our leisure time instead of letting weekends and vacation time sneak up on us without having fun plans in place to ultimately create great memories. Essentially, a Bucketlist.
Perhaps I’ll compose such a lofty list one day; but for now, I’m taking it down a notch and focusing on a Spring/Summer Family Fun List. For anyone who knows me well, they’ll already know I’m the planning type so this is not much of a stretch for me. While I don’t want or need to fill every moment, I do like to take advantage of the nice weather when we have it (I’m not anti-winter but I do enjoy not having to layer and bundle the kids – and myself – before heading out of the house). And I love taking photos and making yearly photo books, so our experiences and adventures become great content which then become great memories to browse through later.
Certainly, with 3 kids under 10, with outings and excursions come tantrums, whining, complaining, forgotten water bottles, snacks and changes of clothes, and sibling bickering in the back seat during traffic jams. (And some spousal disagreements too, especially when someone refuses to map the location on his iPhone…just sayin’). But that’s life. Alongside those messy moments, are sweet and delightful nuggets I’ll cherish forever – and with the help of my photo books, remember for many years to come.
I think my family is happiest when we strike a good balance between bigger outings and smaller ones, with a generous sprinkling of easy and spontaneous un-adventures like hanging in the backyard with family and friends and doing sidewalk chalk art (which, of course, does not guarantee no fighting as the kids will naturally argue over the same colour). But hey, that’s life.
So here goes…my family’s Spring/Summer Family Fun List. Of course, there are endless ideas at Toronto4Kids.com. And if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
Close to Home (and Cheap/Free)
- Bike rides in the neighbourhood
- Some destination ideas: Parks, ice cream on Eglinton, friends’ homes
- Oriole Park
- I think our kids will be able to handle a bike ride from our house – with our little guy in tow in the Thule Bike Trailer.
- Dufferin Grove Park
- This park features a mud path where little ones play with communal toy trucks, fill up buckets with water from a tap, and get as dirty as they wish (change of clothes recommended)! There’s also a playground, mac ‘n cheese and other yummies sold out of a hut-style restaurant, and a bongo drums performance (though I’m not sure if it follows a schedule – I think we got lucky the first time we checked out this back-to-basics park).
- Glen Cedar Park
- The playground/field combination makes it ideal for climbing, swinging, sliding, running, and playing sports (Note to self: This season, I WILL keep a bag of balls, gloves, shovels, buckets, towels, bathing suits, and extra clothes in the car!)
- Viewmount Park
- Very close to our home, this park received a facelift recently. It’s a go-to on weeknights and weekends.
- Oriole Park
- Swimming at various pools of family and friends
- We will almost never turn down an invite to a pool in the summer! Hint, hint…Of course, we’ll bring the popsicles!
Half Day Activities
- Edwards Gardens
- What a gem! Last summer, we made a quick trip in between other plans but this year, this destination deserves at least a few hours to explore the botanical gardens, walking trails, and Children’s Teaching Garden.
- High Park
- In previous years, we’ve stuck to the famous castle park, zoo, and infamous red train. This year, I’d love to explore more of the nature trails, paths, and perhaps even catch the Cherry blossoms late April or early May.
- Riverdale Farm
- Free and fun. We haven’t been here in a couple of years so it will feel like a “new” outing this year. Perhaps we’ll combine this outing with lunch in the trendy Cabbagetown neighbourhood – maybe during the Cabbagetown Arts & Crafts Sale from Sept. 9 – 11.
- Distillery District
- Blue Jays game
- A fun subway ride, a winning team (hopefully – Go Jays Go!), and a great vibe.
- Evergreen Brick Works
- There is always something going on here – The Farmer’s Market, tasty and trendy food vendors, The Children’s Garden, and various craft workshops. I’ll have to take a closer look at the calendar to see what’s most appealing to our gang!
- The Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns
- Open every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. I love the vibe here. And getting up early and going on my own or with a friend on a Saturday morning is always an option too…anyone want to join me?
- Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market
- A fun outing after school or camp one day. Open Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. year-round. This would be a first for our troop this year!
Full Day Adventures
- Treetop Trekking
- One for the kid-free list, perhaps when the older two are at sleepover camp in July. My parents will be more than thrilled to spend the day with our littlest guy to give us a couples day out of the city. A day of window shopping (or some real shopping!), lunch, and enjoying the scenic area sounds perfect!
- Scarborough Bluffs
- Last year, I saw a handful of friends post pics on Facebook and the FOMO set in quickly! I’m looking forward to the spectacular views, beaches, and trails.
- Bronte Creek Provincial Park
- I found this neat gem last year. Some highlights: a children’s farm with animals, a turn-of-the-century farm house, hiking/walking trails, and an indoor hay-filled play space. The daily vehicle fee of $17 is well worth it! This year, perhaps we’ll combine this outing with the Oakville Children’s Festival or the Oakville Waterfront Festival.
- Woodbine Beach
- A walk on the boardwalk, a casual lunch, and some playing in the sand occupied our crew a couple of years ago.
- Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
- More than just butterflies…plants, birds, bugs, and more. This would be a first for us and I’m excited to give it a try.
- Taste of the Danforth
- This Greek food extravaganza takes place from August 5 – 7 this year. Another opportunity to hop on the subway and enjoy a cool part of our city. Last year, the crowds were big, so this year, I’d prefer to check it out during an off-peak time (if there is such a thing).
- Maple Syrup Festival at Horton Tree Farms
- My sister and I took our families here this past weekend. A cute, no-frills adventure filled with yummy pancakes (with maple syrup of course) and maple coffee served in an old log cabin, campfires, a lesson in maple syrup making the pioneer way, and fresh air. Next year, we may switch it up and check out The Maple Syrup Festival at Bruce Mill or Bronte Creek.
- Arts for Life Children’s Festival
- On from April 30 – May 1, this festival looks packed with free and ticketed activities, shows, and performances. We’ve never been, but it certainly looks like a great event to check out.
So, not quite a List of 100 Dreams, but a full list indeed. So bring on the whining, the dirty clothes, and little legs that just can’t walk another second because they’ve already walked “nine hundred million thousand” steps…I’ll take them all along with the giggles, smiles, sandcastles, and butterflies.