There are many times when outdoor play is intentional, the location planned, and a certain level of organisation regarding the extra things you know you’ll need. There are other times when being outdoors was intentional, and of course you’re hoping that your kids are going to have a good time, but play itself – just play, is neither a planned point on the agenda, nor necessarily given any priority. The kind of day when you have an idea of what you want to do, an awareness of your kids general ’needs’ (ie. Not too far to walk; not too long between rest stops; not too many, or too long periods requiring best behaviour!). Your hope is that they’ll have a ’good’ time, and you’re ready and prepared to abort the whole plan should it turn out to be a failure!
Our current five week California roadtrip consists of some days like these. Days when we hope we’ll get to see something of the city we’re in, spend some time in and get a feeling for the different districts, taste some local specialities. Days when we’re hoping to some extent that our kids will just ’stick it out’, ’put up with’ not being able to be at the beach or a park.
What we’ve noticed is that they don’t care that the day isn’t all about them! As long as we’re not rushing them from one place to another. As long as we let them walk at their own pace. As long as we let them check out the dried up leaves they just saw, bring along the stick they just found, balance along the lines between paving stones. As long as we’re present in the moment with them, laughing with them when something’s funny. Ready to hold their hand when they reach out for ours. Ready to take their sticky half eaten chicken drum stick when they decide they don’t want any more. Ready to give them our coats when they get cold and carry them a few blocks when they’re starting to get tired.
We thought we were just going to walk through this square. It wasn’t even anything ’see worthy’ on the map (which is just bizarre!). There was nothing ’planned’ about entertaining them here, but this is where they started to play, so this is where we stayed.
Golden rule for discovering cities with kids & enjoying it: 1 goal a day
One place that we want to go/ one thing that we want to see/ one specific intention… That way anything beyond the one goal is a bonus.
Lastly, making the day more pleasant for everybody: If there’s no finite reason why the kids absolutely shouldn’t be allowed to do something… Maybe considering just letting them do it! Like paddling around in a fountain?
Location: Grand Park, Los Angeles – between N Grand Ave and N Hill St.
(Disclaimer: it wasn’t only our kids in there!)