When the Kids are Away, the Grown-ups Will Play


“Think through your leisure time. People are generally good about setting work goals, but we’re not as good about personal ones. Planning a few fun events gives you something to look forward to.” 

– Laura Vanderkam, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time

As many of our kids head off to sleepover camp, or to spend time with grandparents this summer, that leisure time will be (strangely!) kid-free. And we may have four, five, or even six weekends – and many weeknights if we’re feeling wild! – to fill with…well…adult stuff! While I’m not personally embarking on a kid-free summer (I will have two at sleepover camp for 4 and 6 weeks each, and one at day camp in the city), I know many parents who are – including my sister and brother-in-law, whose girls, my nieces, will be devouring s’mores and bunk-hopping with my two at Camp Walden, East-North of Bancroft, Ontario.

In fact, I was inspired to write this piece because after her first kid-free two weeks last summer, my sister noted that she and her husband often woke up on Saturday morning with no plans…they simply weren’t accustomed to all the free time! No 9 a.m. soccer. No 12 p.m. hockey. No 4:00 birthday party.

Just a wide open weekend….and no, they weren’t dreaming.

While everyone needs a few lazy days here and there, I’m with Vanderkam who suggests: “Time passes whether we choose what to do with it or not. Creating memories is often about creating opportunities for memories, and sitting on the couch in front of the TV creates fewer opportunities than using the same time for a ‘beach and marshmallow roast.’”

So whether you’re on the all-kids-packed-and-ready-to-go team this summer, or you have one of more kiddies hanging with you in the city this summer, I believe we all deserve/need adult time to nurture ourselves and our connections with loved ones. Don’t take my word for it. According to a 75-year Harvard study on living a fulfilling life “The clearest message that we get is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” Okay…noted!

Even though we have one little munchkin with us the whole summer, I’m confident with the help of my parents – who will jump at the chance to babysit anytime! – I can sneak in some leisure time with my husband and friends that doesn’t involve packing goldfish crackers or worrying about bedtime. And things should be extra lively this summer as we celebrate our beautiful country’s 150th birthday!

A twist on the popular resource Toronto4Kids, I’m dubbing my list Toronto4Adults. Here are few ideas for us all to make great summer memories (without having to wipe dripping popsicle juice off those cute little hands and faces). Many of these adventures are new to me too…so I’m right there with you, exploring for the first time.

For those not in Toronto, perhaps some of the suggestions will spark your own ideas where you call home. And for those with cottages…well…I’m jealous.

While some of these outings and adventures are certainly kid-friendly, there’s something special about exploring with a loved one and friends, without little people (with big demands) in tow. And maybe it’s just me, but when I bring my kids to a farmers market or (attempt to) enjoy a stroll through a cool neighbourhood, it’s not long before the whining begins. Sigh.

Bless their little camp-going hearts…hey are those the camp buses I hear pulling up?!

Here’s to making great memories in the summer of 2017…

Biking, Hiking, and Walking  

While I’m sometimes guilty of wanting to stick close to home (mostly to avoid traffic, to be honest), I know there is so much to explore in and around the Greater Toronto Area. Here are a few resources that look pretty awesome. And if you’re like me, try to avoid the roads during high-traffic times – like Sunday evenings when cottagers are returning to the city.

Picnic in The Park 

Pick a park, any park! Toronto has no shortage of green spaces, ranging from High Park to Edwards Gardens. At the time of this posting, there is no ferry service to Centre Island, but hopefully it will resume soon and we can all enjoy this little gem in our city, and pop into the delightful Rectory Café.

Sports, Music, and Theatre

More of a splurge versus a picnic in the park, but if you believe the message in articles like this one, that experiences, not possessions, ultimately make us happy, then these are a few good ones to choose from!

Farmers Markets

I always enjoy these. And dare I say…even more so when I’m not with my kids. It’s not their fault these things make them cranky…they just don’t appreciate a good, giant beet as much as I do!

Neighbourhoods & Festivals 

While we’ve done less of this since we’ve had kids, my husband and I love exploring cool neighbourhoods, window shopping, and grabbing a bite to eat (and an iced coffee for him!) Here are a just a few on our list…if we make it to two or three, I’ll be thrilled!

Speaking of coffee, throwing these ones in for the java lovers out there:

As for festivals, this piece seems to have them covered:

Finally, for a third consecutive year (we haven’t made it yet but plan to this year!), Adelaide Eats (formerly Front Street Foods), will return to the second floor terrace of Adelaide Place (150 York Street).


BlogTO and NOW Toronto have us covered – or open to the sky:

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe summer. Here’s to making memories, nurturing relationships, and filling ourselves up with good times…and the best iced coffee in town!

And Happy 150 Canada!



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