I'm jealous. This morning I opened Facebook to find 'first day of school' pictures from friends scattered across the country. It's not fair. Their kids are out of their hair for six hours a day, while I have 22 more days of: "I'm bored. Are we there yet? Can I have a friend over? I don't want to go to the beach. He's looking at me! Where did I put my DS? I don't want to go to the pool again. We never do anything fun. Why do I have to wear sunscreen? Can I play Wii? I don't want to read. Can I go to a friend's house? I need this, I want that! He's touching my toy. There's nothing fun to do here. I don't want to play outside. We never do anything fun."
That's right moms and dads. We've tried to keep our kids from rotting their brains this summer, bought pool memberships, visited family, gone to the beach, seen fireworks, watched parades, gone to festivals, and apparently we never do anything fun.
How can we pass the days until that glorious first Tuesday in September comes and saves our children from their unending boredom? My husband and I brainstormed this weekend. Here is a "Top 8" list of some ideas we've come up with to keep the boredom from setting in this summer.
- Head to an amusement park. Many of the parks start reducing their regular admission prices for August as the kids head back to school, and Marple Newtown Recreation has deals on theme parks as close as Dorney Park all the way to Sea World in Orlando. Tickets can be picked up at the Gauntlett Center.
- Check out a museum. On a hot, muggy day, you can at least know your kids' brains are being stimulated while hanging out in the air conditioning. We have no shortage of great museums geared towards kids like The Franklin Institute, The Constitution Center, The Academy of Natural Sciences, and The Adventure Aquarium and the Insectarium. These are all pay museums, but many have discount admission options.
There are also a number of free museums in the Philadelphia region, like The Fireman's Hall Museum, The Chemical Heritage Foundation, and The Wagner Free Institute of Science. In addition, some museums like The Philadelphia Art Museum, and Delaware Art Museum have free admission certain Sundays.
- Take in some history. Our area is rich with history–from the Paper Mill House Museum in Newtown Square, Thomas Massey House in Broomall, and Colonial Plantation in Edgmont to Valley Forge Park, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell and Hopewell Furnace. You can keep your kids occupied for the day and give them a head start in their history lessons when school starts.
- Learn about money. This region is a great place to show kids where monay comes from. At the US Mint, near Independence Hall, you can watch coins in your pocket being made most weekdays from their observation deck. The tour is free. The Money in Motion Exhibit at the Philly Federal Reserve Bank shows how our paper money is made, circulates, and ends its life in shreds.
- See a farm show. The Kutztown Fair, the Elizabethtown Fair the Allentown Fair and the Maryland State Fair. All of these happen in August, and all are a short drive away. These combine rindes for the kids with a real farm show. Another option is the Cowtown Rodeo in Salem County NJ. It runs on Saturday nights through September. You can also check out the county's 4-H Club and its farm located at Garrett-Williamson Foundation in Newtown Square.
- Go for a walk. On a breezy day, you can get away into one of our local woods and walk. The trails at the Haverford Reserve are right next door in Haverford, and offer several miles of easy walking trails through the woods. Ridley Creek State Park has thousands of acres to explore. Longwood Gardens with its fountains and fireworks nights can make an easy transition for kids who normally hate the outdoors.
- Have a back-to-school shopping adventure. Yes, there are outlets nearby, but making a longer trip out to Lancaster can break up a day of looking at clothes with other more interesting sights.
- Catch a baseball game. There are some great teams around the areas like the Reading Phillies, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Camden River Sharks and Wilmington Blue Rocks that play through August. You can watch their games for a fraction of a full-price ticket at the Phillies.
These are just a few ways we plan on getting through the next few weeks. What are some other fun things we can do to end our summer with a bang instead of a fizzle?