Summer is a great opportunity to reconnect with family. Although, this is easier said than done with the stresses of full-time work and other responsibilities. The wheel keeps on turning with us overcompensating to provide more for our kids when what our kiddos want most from us is our undivided time and attention. Luckily there is something we can do.
Start with quality over quantity by scheduling the uninterrupted time we do have. It’s much more impactful if we spend a few hours a week totally engaged with our kids rather than endless hours multitasking and only giving them a fraction of our attention. Chaperoning our kids distractedly to activities and peeking over our cell phones is not what they’re hoping for.
Here are a few suggestions on how to create memorable family time and take advantage of the amazing local options we have available.
- Get Outside
We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful city. The mountains literally meet the sea. You can go for a picnic at one of the stunning beaches or an afternoon hike on one of the mountain trails. The options are endless.
- Pretend or Dramatic Play
If it’s too hot or too wet, why not head to an indoor gym? Playing with our kids is a great place to start. Take them to Kidtropolis and explore the 18,000 sq ft city. Let them run the grocery store or be the dentist.
Dramatic play helps children develop language skills, empathy, compassion, collaboration, and communication skills. Not to mention an improved skill in sharing.
- Get a Rush
If your child is a dare-devil, why not take them somewhere exciting? An afternoon at Playland or WildPlay is the perfect choice for all those thrill-seeking kids. But don’t stand on the sidelines. Be prepared to go on a ride or zipline through the trees. Be kids with your kids and enjoy the experience.
- Get Cultural
Visiting a gallery or a museum is a great way to spark great conversations with your kids. Before you go, get them to choose a theme they are interested in. For older kids, get them to research where you’re going so they are invested and feel included in this decision-making part of your experience.
There are so many options available – visual arts at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a trip through a historic mine at Britannia Mine Museum, the Canadian Museum of Flight, or even hands-on forensics activities at the Vancouver Police Museum.
One really fun museum that can easily become a full-day trip is Burnaby Village Museum. Bring the entire family – including aunties and uncles and especially grandparents as they can reminisce and share in conversations about the history of the area. Explore the 10-acre historical open-air museum. Watch demonstrations in the blacksmith shop, order your favourite flavour of old-fashioned ice cream from the parlour, or visit the general store and school. You can also hop on board the antique Vancouver streetcar train. Of course, don’t miss the carousel that is fun for all to ride!
- Play with Animals
Everyone loves some “fur-time”. Being around animals helps children build empathy and learn how to care for other creatures. The Bunny Cafe and Cat Cafe are great places to snuggle and just hang out with smaller animals.
If your children are more interested in farm animals, bring them to Maplewood Farm. Nestled in North Vancouver, kids can have fun becoming little farmers for the day as they gain firsthand experience learning about animal care. They can get behind the scenes and look into animal husbandry, along with the grooming, and feeding of their favourite farm animals. They can even see the hens lay eggs. There are also new interactive activities taking place daily, from farm programs to themed crafts for the kiddos.
- Explore a New Neighbourhood
The Lower Mainland has many unique areas to explore. You could spend an afternoon in Deep Cove kayaking and eating a doughnut from Honey’s or buy fresh seafood right off the dock at Steveston Spot Prawns and Seafood. Exploring an area you’re not familiar with is a lot of fun.
Granville Island is another perfect place to just pick up and go to and figure it out when you get there. Start by taking the Aquabus which will deliver you right to the Granville Island Public Market. Take your time and browse the market full of kiosks from local crafters and artisans. For lunch, there is no shortage of choices to enjoy outside on Fisherman’s Wharf while watching all the action on the water, seagulls, and talented buskers.
After lunch, visit Kids Only Market. The kiddos even have their own pint-sized entrance. Once inside they will find Vancouver’s best selection of toys, games, gifts, party supplies, specialty items, kid’s clothing, dance wear, puppets, and candy. They can play at the Arcade in Circuit Circus and the multi-level playground and ball pit of the Adventure Zone.
If you are looking for outdoor adventure, you can get out on the water with Vancouver Water Adventures. Boat tours and family kayaking are great options but plan ahead with this one, as things book up fast here!
- Get Artistic
Make a plan to go to a show at the theatre. Visit Carousel Theatre For Young People at Granville Island, or plan a visit to Evergreen Cultural Centre, the visual and performing arts hub of the Tri-Cities. Evergreen presents a variety of arts programs including professional theatre, dance and music presentations, art exhibitions, arts education programs, and public programs for both children and adults.
- Get Musical
When it comes to music, it’s fun to sing in a group or sing along to a performance. West Side Music Together offers classes where you can shake, jingle, sing, dance, and jam with your little one. It’s ideal for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to jam with the adults who love them.
If everyone just wants to be in the audience? Sing along to the songs of Matilda at TUTS (Theatre Under The Stars) or listen to Bugs Bunny at the Symphony as they celebrate the world’s most iconic Looney Tunes and their legendary stars projected on the big screen July 13 & 14.
Now get out your calendar and start scheduling some quality time and strengthening your family connection!