I’ve been taking care of two wonderful girls in Minneapolis all summer and through this job I’ve learned about cities from a new perspective. When you’re a kid, the city is an entirely different scene. Everything is bigger, more confusing, but usually more exciting—and we often forget about this viewpoint once we grow up. I highlighted several ideas for free summer fun a few weeks ago and most of those are suitable for children, but here are some specific ideas that I’ve picked up while traversing the city with kids.
Make it bold: Kids are attracted to bright colors and lively music, big splashes and sweet treats. To keep them engaged, you’re going to have to keep your landscape interesting. (Of course, some kids are also scared of loud noises or crowds so know your child.)
Get there a different way: I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like riding the train and—while many of us don’t have easy access to trains in our neighborhoods—any new form of transportation is bound to delight. Take the bus. Try walking. I’ve been impressed with how far my girls can walk without complaint (particularly when there’s the promise of ice cream at the end).
Seek out special events: I mentioned festivals and concerts in this post and those are often a perfect kid-friendly activity, but it’s worth mentioning that libraries, parks, shopping districts and book stores also often sponsor child-centered events.
Mix it up: Do you take the kids to the farmer’s market every weekend? Visit a new one this time. Better yet, visit an actual farm.
Be mindful of energy: Sometimes I forget that I can walk much faster and farther than the kids I’m in charge of. Pay attention to the endurance of your kids. Plan a reasonable amount of time for a given activity and give them a chance to take a break on a bench, drink water, nap, etc.
Welcome the questions: Children come up with the most outlandish questions when they encounter something new and this is a fantastic opportunity to challenge you own assumptions and learn things. Kids ask how library books are organized and why the lake doesn’t have chlorine in it. They ask why one park is filled with rocks and another with woodchips, or what exactly is inside a bottle of sunscreen. I welcome these teaching moments and sometimes find myself googling the answers when I get home from work.
Stay cool with the kids this summer!