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7 Tips for a Weekend Your Toddlers Will Never Forget

I’m knackered. My house is a mess. I haven’t gotten much work done and I’ll likely be up quite late playing catch up. But my kids? They are really, really happy. This morning, they were the best behaved that they’ve been in a long while. The reason, I’m pretty sure, is that we decided to take advantage of Family Day (a holiday in parts of Canada) and create a kid-centric weekend. Once in a while, I think it’s important to create the sort of opportunities for kids that are laced with surprise, adventure and magic, geared specifically to their age demographic.

Our lives get so jam-packed with everyday practicalities that dropping everything for hours on end and days at a time just isn’t realistic. So, when we can make it happen, it is a special time indeed — one that reminds me of how creative play, as a family, really makes a huge difference in my kids’ emotional development. Their sense of self worth and behavior improves in spades.

It’s no easy undertaking, but when planned right and organized in advance — with a rather large quotient of madness and a small amount of spontaneity — you, too, can feel like a kid again and reset the clock on your family’s sense of joy and closeness. It creates this kind of glue — a tight-knit cohesion that can easily get worn down over time and that only quality togetherness can bring back into proper check again. This past weekend, we road-tripped to the big city, stayed with some good friends who have kids, too, and scheduled our days with nothing but kid-type events. There were moments of lost sanity, but, overall, I’m left with a feeling of deep satisfaction. Here’s how we did it, more or less — without losing the plot.

  • What’s Good for the Goose… 1 of 8
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    Yes, you can survive multiple days in a row doing nothing but kid stuff with toddlers and come out less stressed with better behaved kids. It's like magic. Or love. Or maybe both. Cheesy, but true. Here's how we do it...

  • Research All of the Fun Things 2 of 8
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    By planning well in advance you can strike up some great deals and coupons for local family-centric events and activities, especially for something surrounding Family Day! The Google machine is your friend, unless you're already in-the-know this way. Once a year, every Family Day weekend, a local(ish) kid band that we all love has a house residency at a live venue and we make a point of getting tickets. Chances are 50-50 that someone will get sick, but that's pretty much the only thing that will keep us from going -- and we get a good deal by buying the tickets in advance!

  • Make the Proper Arrangements 3 of 8
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    Whether you book time off work or schedule your work in advance, make sure that you are prepared to take off guilt-free and are ready to turn off all those devices... Not that I completely shut down from checking my email or anything, but I definitely didn't have the computer open trying to get work done on what was supposed to be our special family time. 

  • Think of Food 4 of 8
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    In our case, we went and stayed with friends who live close to the concert venue and a bunch of other options available to us on the other days. We made some solid plans and left a couple of things loose for either indoor or outdoor play (the kids were old enough to go on their first outdoor winter hike with the dads while the moms stayed home to cook up a storm). Discovery centers are basically kid heaven, so we made sure to squeeze in a visit to the Ontario Science Centre. The common denominator to making all of these things go well are healthy, delicious meals, nutritious snacks, lots of water... and maybe some sugar-free lollipops that you can whip out like a superstar. We planned out menus in advance (a bit) so we had what we needed on hand. Tip: Thermoses to keep water cold and cooler bags are always essential for family road trips and outings.

  • Pack Well 5 of 8
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    Lots of underwear and changes of pants, especially when potty-training, are key -- and bring along a couple of comforts from home if you're staying a night or two away. We are huge fans of our Regalo toddler cots and we bring their pillows and duvets from home, as well as one lovey each. It really is worth it when you need to schlep the gear and make bedtimes as painless as possible.

  • Bring in the Reserves 6 of 8
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    Invite friends, make playdates with other families or reunite the kids with family or friends they haven't seen for a while. The double win is that your friends and family are surprised and ecstatic and you have help in a likely kid-heavy environment where activity and pheromones run high. Because toddlers in abundance are very much like animals. Very cute animals, yes -- but imagine a multitude of them at a concert just for them... Make sure you pick a band that doesn't annoy the sh*t out of you, one perhaps where the lead singer reminds you about the bar in the back.

  • Turn Off 7 of 8
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    YOU GUYS. I didn't Instagram one moment all weekend! Granted, I forgot my phone at our friend's house on Sunday when we went to the Science Centre, but when I was with the kids, I kept my phone out of sight (for the most part). I'm not going to preach too much about this because it can be annoying. Yes, many moments are worth capturing in real time, which is what the SLR is for! Remember those old things?! Also, I could not refrain any longer once we got to day No. 4, when we were all reunited with a good friend. Sometimes you just have to make an Instragram vid of twirly whirlys, AMIRITE?

  • Have Fun 8 of 8
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    Just let go. Give in. Whatever "lean in" mantra you can get down with, do that. I'm beginning to understand that kids pick up on stress and distraction better than we grok. Let loose and think and act like a child. Not only will it soothe and replenish their little minds and hearts, it'll do you some good, too. Only speaking from experience, here.

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More Babbles From Selena…

Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Regular writer here and on Disney Baby. Part-time mischief maker, all-time geek.  Elsewhere on the Internets… via her humble beginnings, mastering in general mayhem: le petit rêve

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