Do you ever feel like, as your kids grow, you relate less to moms who are beginning their parenting journey?
You’ve climbed out of the deep dark pit of diaper changes, googled your fair share of rashes, and you barely ever say “blow” while firmly grasping a tissue against a tiny nose.
You now spend time reading articles about communicating with your teen and protecting them from the internet, you google phrases like “IMHO” and breathe a sigh of relief when it’s not a sex thing, and your heartbreaks and stops just a moment when your grown-up-sized baby reaches for your hand or says they love you. *SIGH* I feel that last one hard as I write this.
While they grow, so do their worries and struggles.
But, there are some things that don’t ever change. They still take turns talking my ear off for the first 3 hours after I’ve picked them up for my parenting week, they still search for me when they are scared, and there are still places that they ALWAYS want to go to when we are looking for adventure.
Here are the 5 places around town my kids STILL want to go to, even as they grow up:
**Many parks have closures at this time. Be sure to check local parks’ information sites!**
1) Palisades-Kepler State Park is our favorite.
I wish we could say we hiked the trails every time, but the water always draws us in. Maybe it’s the bounty of shells and rock treasures along the Cedar River, or how shallow the river is for walking and wading, or maybe it’s the way the cliff-edge hugs the river and keeps us protected from visions of the real world. When we are there we are recharged and filled with the magic only nature can provide.
2) Thomas Park is much closer to our home so we go there more often.
In the summer we wade through the river collecting treasure and finding delight in the crawfish and minnows. All season long we enjoy the paths behind the manicured portion of the park. In the winter the massive hill is a sledder’s dream. They also fill the basketball courts with water during the colder months for ice skating (we just slide around in our boots most of the time). And even after all these years, we find shallow streams and puddles in the low lying areas and pop the ice pockets!
3) Wilson’s Orchard is one of my kids’ favorite places!
That started after one particular visit when a friendly kitten followed us through the apple trees. While we love the baking extravaganza that happens for the days following our visit, the bushels of apples are only mentioned secondary to the kitten! All joking aside, an afternoon wandering the orchard, taking in the smell of warm apples still on the branches, wildflowers at every turn, and tasty baked treats is always a visit well worth making.
4) Maquoketa Caves State Park is a bit further, so we plan this one in advance and I make sure my kids’ social calendar is free for the day!
We make sure we are wearing clothes we aren’t afraid to throw away! My kids love wandering the paths, making themselves small as headlamps light their way into tiny mouths of caves, and getting sneak peeks at little bats as they rest. My kids have also gotten an education on protecting the local bat population from the local park rangers! We pack hot dogs and marshmallows for post-hiking snacks to cook on the grills or fireplace and also warm up from the chilly caves!
5) While I have talked about actual places, there are underestimated opportunities my kids find for connection to their own inner child.
These small pockets of time between scheduled activities are insignificant but my kids love them. And, they provide peace and recentering. The first is the 5-block walk between our home and Grandma and Papa’s house. In fact, as long as we have the extra time, we always choose to walk or bike. Maybe it’s the open sky overhead, or using that farsightedness we miss out on with screen time, but it is always just what we need.
The second is walking out our door and drawing with chalk on the driveway. You’ll need fancier chalk as they get older and more sophisticated. I get bright colored artist chalk by the boxful on Amazon. But with the right materials, this 30-60 minutes is a kid-pleaser.
Finally, the third opportunity comes when cooking meals together. My kids eat better if they participate in meal planning, and cooking together allows us time to connect. It’s the connection that makes this go-to activity the real winner!
We’d love to hear where and what YOUR kids like to do no matter how big they get!
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