Toddler To-do List: Fall Wrap Up

Fall doesn’t technically end until December 20, but our toddler to-do list included mostly seasonal activities. So now that we’ve officially kicked off the holidays, it’s probably time to revisit our list.

Time flies when you’re having toddler fun, amirite?

ToddlerToDoEND

Go to a football game. We took Emme to a Northwestern football game in early September. Here Emme is enjoying a snack in the stands and sporting her new hat. That’s my husband’s leg. He’s a runner.

Check out a local fall festival. Again, we crossed this one off the list early and attended Oktoberfest in Berwyn. But it rained on and off, so we cut our time at the festival short. We talked about going to another one, but never did.

Visit a farm with animals and a pumpkin patch. Did I mentioned how much I loved the Green Meadows Farm in Wisconsin?

goats

Go on a hayride. Done.

hayride

Splash at an indoor water park. We basically had the waterpark at Timber Ridge Lodge in Lake Geneva to ourselves. And we’ve already booked our trip for next year.

water

Decorate a pumpkin. We did this. I don’t have evidence of it.

Go to the zoo. We did end up going to Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo, but it was not a great day for the toddler, and we didn’t stay long. Maybe we’ll try again next year.

Dress up for Halloween and trick-or-treat. Yep. And yep.

halloween2

Have a dance party or two. Sometime in October, Emme became obsessed with Taylor Swift. We listened (and danced to) Shake it Off about 10 times a night for a week. What I learned is that I do not hate Taylor Swift.

Explore a new playground. We did actually make it to a new playground for a playdate in Western Springs.

Take fall photos. Nope. Not this year. At least nothing fancy.

Visit an art museum. Turns out you can take a toddler to the Art Institute of Chicago.

still life

Visit a children’s museum. We took Emme to Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview.

Kohl

Learn about Thanksgiving. With Gena’s help and my mom’s book selections, we crossed this one off the list, though I’m not sure she “got it.” She told me “Happy Birthday” on Thanksgiving. Close enough.

14 Must-do Fall Toddler Activities

Happy Autumnal Equinox! If you’re in the central time zone like those of us in the Chicagoland, the equinox happens at 9:29 tonight. So since fall is officially upon us, I wanted to share our plans to enjoy the season and keep the toddler entertained with fun fall activities over the next few months.

14 must-do toddler fall activities for your family bucket list.

1. Go to a football game.

We got a jump on this one when we took Emme to a Northwestern football game in early September. Both my husband and I went to graduate school at Northwestern, so we try to go to at least one game every season. We found out at the last minute that it was Local Heroes Day, and my husband, a police officer, was able to get discounted tickets. We also had the opportunity to go on the field for the national anthem, which was kind of neat. Here Emme is enjoying a snack in the stands and sporting her new hat. I had no idea what to expect from her behavior- and attention span-wise, but she was actually pretty good and seemed to enjoy herself.

2. Check out a local fall festival.

Again, we crossed this one off the list early and attended Oktoberfest in Berwyn. But it rained on and off, so we cut our time at the festival short. Maybe we’ll get to another one in the coming weeks.

3. Visit a farm with animals and a pumpkin patch.

We’re going on a mini-vacation to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin because my husband will be attending a conference there. One of the activities I’m planning while we’re there is a trip to Green Meadow Farms in East Troy, which is about a 20-minute drive from where we’ll be staying. I’ve been wanting to check this farm out ever since I read about it in the Chicago edition of Red Tricycle in July.

4. Go on a hayride.

Quintessential family fall fun.

5. Splash at an indoor water park.

We’ll be going to Timber Ridge Lodge in Lake Geneva, which has an indoor water park.

6. Decorate a pumpkin.

Tiny pumpkins can be decorated with markers. Perfect for tiny people.

7. Go to the zoo.

We’re planning to go to Boo at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo.

8. Dress up for Halloween and trick-or-treat.

I have given zero thought to a Halloween costume this year. I should probably get on that.

9. Have a dance party or two.

Because duh.

10. Explore a new playground.

Temperatures are dropping, and soon we’ll be stuck indoors. We want to make the most of the mild fall weather and visit a few more playgrounds in 2014.

11. Take fall photos.

Fall means it’s time to update our family photo, just in time for the holidays.

12. Visit an art museum.

We’re planning a visit to The Art Institute in Chicago. I was a little skeptical about this outing, but my husband and I did some recon this week, and it’s far more family friendly than I was expecting.

13. Visit a children’s museum.

There are three to choose from in the western suburbs of Chicago.

14. Learn about Thanksgiving.

Sometimes I underestimate the ability of young children to grasp less concrete concepts, which is dumb and probably partially lazy on my part, but honestly, my first instinct was to wonder if this was necessary. But really, is it ever too early to talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving and how we should be thankful for the good things in our lives? I’m going to start by getting books about Thanksgiving that are age-appropriate. We’ll see if I can come up with anything else.

Want to see how we did with our bucket list of fall toddler activities?

Breastfeeding Resources in the Western Suburbs of Chicago

Find breastfeeding resources in the Chicago western suburbs to help you navigate the often bumpy road of breastfeeding. You can find me over at {Kidlist} today writing about breastfeeding resources for Moms in the western suburbs of Chicago. If you’re not familiar with {kidlist}, it’s a fantastic local blog for parents in the. Here’s a taste:

Breastfeeding, more than anything else, consumed me after giving birth to my daughter in 2012. And if I remember correctly (which I probably don’t, let’s be real), breastfeeding is all I talked about for the first year of my daughter’s life. Not exactly a fun topic for non-mom company.

Read the rest over at Kidlist: Breastfeeding Resources in the Chicago Western Suburbs.

Find Fun Things to Do in the Western Suburbs of Chicago with Kids

My weekends aren’t what they used to be. Pre-kiddo, Saturdays and Sundays were filled with long runs, brunches, errands, dinners, bars, and naps. Post-kiddo, we have to be way more strategic about how we spend those precious 48 hours.

We also have to figure out how not to be stuck at home — we need to get my toddler out of the house rain or shine, least we all go insane, and sometimes the local parks just aren’t going to cut it. When I’m trying to figure out where to go and what to do, I look to these sources for information about kid-friendly events in the western suburbs of Chicago as well as Chicago and beyond.

Looking for fun stuff to do with your kids in the western suburbs of Chicago, the city of Chicago, and beyond? Look no further. These sources will be your go-to websites for events, ideas, and activities in the Chicagoland area.

Red Tricycle Chicago Edition: Red Tricycle launched in Seattle in 2006. Since then, the site has expanded into several metropolitan areas, and I’m a huge fan of the Chicago edition. Red Tricycle’s content focuses on local activities and information for families and kids and they don’t shy away from highlighting the western suburbs of Chicago. What I love about Red Tricycle is that their style is easy to read; their site is intuitive; and they don’t discount the suburbs for fun family adventures. I click through nearly every Red Tricycle article that shows up in my inbox or Facebook feed, which is basically the holy grail of digital content, right? I highly recommend you check them out on Facebook and subscribe to their newsletter.

{kidlist}: A mom in the western suburbs of Chicago launched Kidlist in 2011 when she was trying to figure out what to do each day with her two little ones. She focuses on stuff to do in the western suburbs of Chicago and publishes a weekend events list every week. She also offers insight into places for birthday parties and seasonal fun, and keeps up-to-date listings of businesses and organizations in the western suburbs of Chicago that cater to families and kids. Follow Kidlist on Facebook for additional information about local events.

OPRF Mom Mail: If you’re in Oak Park, River Forest, or one of the surrounding suburbs, I recommend subscribing to Mom Mail. In addition to providing opportunities to buy and sell used goods for kids, Mom Mail sends out two “Things To Do” emails each week with information about local events and activities.

Free Things to do in Chicago with Kids: Free Things to do in Chicago with Kids is the Facebook page for Kidwinks.com. Kidwinks offers lots of content about things to do and places to go in Chicagoland, but their Facebook page lists only FREE events. It’s a great resource for family fun on the cheap.

Local Meetup Groups: Are you a mom looking for things to do with your kid(s) and other moms to hang out with? Then go to meetup.com, and search for a mom’s group in your area. (Kidlist also put together an extensive list of mom’s groups in the western suburbs of Chicago.) Even if there isn’t a mom or parent group in your specific town, I’ve found that most groups in the western suburbs of Chicago don’t discriminate based on your location as long as you’re in the general vicinity. Brookfield, La Grange, Hinsdale, Elmhurst, Oak Park, Berwyn, and more all have mom’s groups. If the group in your area is active, typically one or more of these moms will have the inside scoop on local events like grand openings, special events at parks, and fun fairs that are basically in your backyard.

Have any other tips on great event sources for moms in the western suburbs of Chicago? Leave them in the comments!

Party at Peekaboo Playroom

Last year, for Emme’s 1st birthday, we rented a picnic area in a local park, where we moved tables, decorated, picked up food, set everything up, and, when it was over, cleaned it all up. It was a great party, but it was exhausting.

For my daughter's second birthday, we threw a party at Peekaboo Playroom in Oak Park. Peekaboo Playroom is one of my favorite indoor toddler play spaces.

For her 2nd birthday, we decided to make it easier on ourselves and let someone else do the heavy lifting. Enter: Peekaboo Playroom in Oak Park.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom I’m obsessed with Peekaboo Playroom. It’s a large space with several playhouse structures, including a kitchen, a grocery store, and a workshop. They have a fleet of Cozy Coups, a massive collection of Legos, a train set, an area to read, and a separate section for non-walkers.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom

Here’s the best part: Peekaboo Playroom only has toddler-friendly toys, and it’s wide open. So basically, you can find a spot on the couch with your coffee and Kindle, keep an eye on your kid from afar, and just let them play. No hovering necessary.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo PlayroomIt’s toddler paradise, but (more importantly?), it’s mommy (and daddy) paradise.

We frequent Peekaboo Playroom, so we knew they offered birthday party packages. Despite it being a bit pricier than other options, we decided to go for it. And we were able to get 10 percent off simply because it was summer.

The day of the party, all we did was bring in food–I made salads; we ordered pizza; we bought a cake from the grocery store. I didn’t bother killing myself to come up with a theme–I let the staff at the playroom take care of the decor with minimal direction (you can let them know if you have a theme; I just told them to do whatever), as well as gift bags and snacks for the kiddos.

When we showed up 30 minutes before the party, the room was ready, and the staff immediately took the food and put that out as well. We were free to do whatever, so Emme got the party started early and made good use of the facilities.

Two things struck me: First, I didn’t know what to do with myself because the staff did everything, and what little directing I did, I was able to do because my kid was totally occupied and happy. I’ll be honest though, it kind of stressed me out to not be stressed out. Go figure.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom

We had nearly 40 guests, the vast majority of whom were adults. The party package we chose allowed for up to 20 kids, but we had 13, mostly between the ages of 1 and 4. I worried a little about the adults not having a good time, but honestly, I think it was more fun because no one was worried about their kids. The early toddler years are a tricky time in most “kid” party spaces–I feel like Emme’s either going to run off if she’s not completely contained, or she’s going to get run over by bigger kids.

We had the space for two hours, which is about the perfect amount of time for toddlers to keep it together. I actually was able to have conversations and visit with friends and family, an amazing feat in room filled with little ones. But that’s the beauty of Peekaboo Playroom.

At the end of the party, we packed up the leftover food and the gifts and headed home. No cleaning required.

I honestly can’t recommend this place enough–for parties or just for play. Check out Peekaboo Playroom’s party package options, as well as their daily open play rates and information about special events.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom

This is how you get a crazy two year old to attempt to blow out her candles.

If You Go to Peekaboo Playroom

  • Wear socks. It’s a shoe-free environment for adults and kids. But if you forget, you can buy a pair for a nominal free from Peekaboo Playroom.
  • If you want to go on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday, call first. They regularly shift their hours on the weekends to accommodate private birthday parties.
  • Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. Not only do they regularly post information about special events, they also typically update weekend hours here.
  • There’s free wi-fi! And it’s possible that you could get a few things done on the computer because your kid is going to be otherwise occupied. Just ask for the password.
  • You can bring in your own food, but they have a few snack options as well as coffee and tea for a few dollars.
  • Parking is primarily metered. Bring change (no fancy credit card meters here). Parking is free on Sundays.
  • Remember it’s a nut-free facility.