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We’ve been waiting for you, summertime! Even though my kids are little and we don’t have to adhere to a school-year schedule yet, there’s something magical about this time of year. We love to play hard and take advantage of everything that our beautiful corner of the world has to offer, but this is my first “real” year doing summer fun with two kids (last year P was a newborn and so we were sort of in hibernation for a good part of June and July) and getting the hang of getting out of the house is still tricky. Not to mention keeping everyone happy and safe for more than fifteen minutes wherever we choose to actually go. It’s not an easy feat! No wonder sticking in our backyard and running through the sprinkler looks pretty alluring.
However, I do feel like when we get out get a change of scenery it makes the day go so much smoother! I’m in a better mood, the time passes more quickly, the girls are less bored and cranky, and we make such fun memories (and sure, a few mishaps along the way only add to the humor of things, haha!). I’ve gotten a pretty good routine down and a few tricks up my sleeve to make family outings with little kids (slightly) less overwhelming, and I want to share what works for us:
1. Plan Ahead: This is crucial for me. I find that I get so incredibly distracted by things at home first thing in the morning, if I don’t have a plan in place when I go to sleep at night, chances are we aren’t really going to get out and do much the next day. By the time we get up, let the girls lounge around, eat breakfast, and I get distracted by email or cleaning something up, it’s almost time for lunch. At that point I don’t want to go to the hour-long struggle to get everyone presentable and leave the house, because we’d have to turn right around for naps. And honestly, that’s okay! I really believe kids need space to just hang out at home and entertain themselves sometimes, But if you have some items on your summer bucket-list that need checking off, make a goal to accomplish one or two each week, and pencil them in ahead of time. Then you can hit the ground running in the morning and make it out of the house in a timely manner (ugh, my struggle!).
2. Seek Out New Adventures: This brings me to my next point. It’s great to have your regular neighborhood spots but finding new places to go and things to try just breaks you out of a rut! I’m always combing Facebook, emails from my city’s rec center and library, and blogs for ideas for new parks, hikes, and local events. Instagram has actually become one of my favorite resources for finding local attractions. You can search hashtags that apply to your city or state (once you start Instagram will suggest popular ones) or find accounts that focus on local fun. If you live in Utah, three of my favorite accounts are @utahsadventurefamily, @wanderingfamilies, and @saltprojectco. This fun farm-themed park was one that Utah’s Adventure Family lead us to:
This simple hike to a pretty waterfall was another idea I gleaned from Instagram!
3. Team Up: Obviously I’d love for Dave to join us on every outing but with his school and work schedule I’m often flying solo. We love to make plans to meet friends at a destination park or splash pad. Not only do we get the fun of hanging out with people we love, but teaming up with a mom friend makes managing multiple kids alone more feasible! If one of us is preoccupied with feeding or changing a baby, the other can retrieve the three-year-olds that have decided to join another family and start stealing their snacks, for example. It’s just nice to have two sets of eyes looking out for everyone, especially when things get crowded in the summer.
4. Fuel Your Fun: Often by the time I get everyone dressed, sunscreen on, swimsuits and towels packed, and drive to our location, it’s basically lunchtime. I used to just throw the same old stale crackers in my diaper bag and make do with those, or worse, hit up a drive through because everyone was starving! I finally wised up and just accepted that making the extra effort to pack something filling and healthy for my kids is the only way to go. Everyone is happier and we can stay and actually have fun for longer, rather than rushing home when we get hungry (or hangry…) and cutting the fun short.
Odwalla juices and smoothies are a great option for something nourishing and easy! They can stay in the fridge for a while and then get thrown in my bag on the way to whatever park or pool we are hitting for the day. I love that they have no added sugar (because mom guilt), and they pack so many different fruits and veggies into each bottle!
We’ve recently found our Odwalla at our local Safeway. It’s located right in the produce section, in the refrigerated area with the other juices and prepared salads. We also grabbed some fresh-cut fruit to add to our little picnic, since it’s easy for the girls to graze on as they take breaks from playing. Right now at Safeway or other banner stores (like Albertsons) you can save $1 on your next purchase of in-store fresh cut fruit when you buy any TWO (2) Odwalla 15.2 fl. oz. (You’ll receive a print out coupon at the register.). Offer ends 6/27/17.
Having plenty of yummy and healthy options at hand means we can play longer and avoid meltdowns!
5. Just Do It!: Tackling a big outing with kids can be daunting. There are nap times to coordinate, it’s hot, it’s a lot of work to get everyone ready, and inevitably someone is crying at some point. There are totally weeks when we just lay low and take it easy. But we’ve made some of our best summer (or anytime memories) when we’ve bitten the bullet and just decided to get out and try something new, regardless of if it was perfectly planned or executed.
Take this photo, for example. This was from our trip to the San Diego Zoo. No one had had naps, it was one of the only rainy days they had all year, Ella got stung by a bee on the way in, and after spending $150 on admission, Ella said her favorite thing we saw were the fish! It was far from perfect, but we had so much fun and it’s one of our favorite family memories to date. Nothing with little kids is really that easy so sometimes you’ve got to just decide to throw routines out the window and live a little!
What are some ways that you make summer outings more manageable with little ones? I’d love to hear in the comments!