Shelley-Anne Wooderson, author of Los Angeles by Stroller, had lived in twenty different houses and moved to a new country seven times before the age of thirty. She recently lived in Los Angeles with her family.
I asked Shelley if she would share some basic tips on what to do with your baby/toddler in ANY city. Bellow you will find some great and simple ideas from Shelley sprinkled with humor and experienced insight.
You can purchase Los Angeles by Stroller (for less than $6!) from MyBirthMovie’s A-store – under the books section.
What are the best outings with kids?
The best outing with kids is going to depend on the age of your children, and how many children you have. I am a firm believer in spending as much time as you can out with your kids, not only do they learn from all the new experiences if you spend the day out of the house when you come home it’s still clean. Seriously! A day at home with your kids is a day of cleaning up after them, so go explore your environment and find your own favorite day out of the house.
With your first child you don’t know what a good day out is going to comprise of. (By the second kid you know where to go (wherever your oldest wants to)). Here’s a quick breakdown to give you some ideas for your next day out:
0 – 6 months old
Actually I should say zero to crawling because when your child starts to crawl your life will change as much as it did when they were born. So where should I take my young baby? Wherever you want to go. This is the last few months when your life is your own, go wherever you’d want (with a few exceptions). Go have dinner in a nice restaurant. Go see an Opera (no seriously), whatever it is you want to do go do it. Knowing that at any time you may have to leave early, that you will at some point during your nice meal be nursing your child (a nice dark romantic restaurant is often the perfect atmosphere for this). Ok, it would be nicer if you could do these things without having to possibly run out in the middle before all the patrons of the symphony get mad at you but guess what, babysitting is expensive and if you have a little baby handing them off to someone else is difficult. So in a nutshell enjoy your life and bring your child along.
Things you should NOT do with your young baby: Go to the movies. No really. The volume on the sound is too loud for young ears and can cause permanent damage. So also no rock concerts or anywhere with largely amplified sound. Also no children’s birthday parties at ChuckECheese (also too loud and basically the most horrifying environment for any baby with flashing lights and alarms also a horrifying environment for most adults.) Also amusement parks are not for parents of young children. Everything is very loud, most of the attractions have height restrictions or age restrictions which just leaves one parent standing in the line and the other riding the coaster….. so wait until your child is at least 4 or 5 for Disneyland.
6 months – 12 months
Your baby is still immobile enough for you to enjoy an art gallery or a museum, and if they start to scream in the stroller to walk out with lots of very serious patrons staring at you. Any outings planned for this time should be planned around nap time and you should have on hand lots and lots of snack food. Now that your child is starting to be mobile a nice day out could be the little kid area at the park (yes everything they say about sandpits is probably true but it didn’t kill you when you were a child and it won’t kill your baby either.) Also the beach is a great option, so long as you bring a shade tent or umbrella babies generally have a great time with sand and a bucket.
This is also a great time to start exploring Children’s and Science museums (which often have little kid ball pits and foam rubber play areas) and finding toddler groups where your child can interact with only themselves but you can establish relationships with other parents and possibly organize play dates with some like minded adults.
In my experience this is also a great time to go to live shows and theater with your child. The same kid who doesn’t see the TV screen might sit enthralled at real people moving around. As always prepare to leave if necessary. Shakespeare in the park or free outdoor events or street theater are a perfect venue, it’s usually free and no one is going to get upset if a small child runs towards the stage trying to join the show.
Again no movies, rock bands, and for your own sanity avoid ChuckECheese.
Your kid is pretty mobile at this point, and fast. They are also a sponge for information. So take them to museums, tell them what they are looking at, find art galleries that don’t mind you rolling a stroller through their halls and have your child point to which picture they like, which colors are in the pictures. Many of the art galleries have children’s days where the kids can come and make their own artwork, seek out these days, take a change of clothes for after you wash the paint off and watch your artist at work.
All trips at this age should be no more than an hour, make the trips short and fun. If you haven’t gotten to the zoo yet, this is the perfect time – lots of running between cages pointing at different animals and making animal noises.
Find small local theaters, many of them have shows for children with puppets or magicians. If your local high school puts on a musical – go. Young kids love musicals and there will be lots of children in the audience so no one will be upset if your kid watches the show while running back and forth.
Also go to your local library and see what they have to offer. This is a great time to participate in reading time at the library and to spend time leafing through all the books a library has to offer.
Your life has completely changed and will never be the same again, and you get to experience the world anew through eyes of joy and innocence. A perfect day out with your kid is one that end with a nap for you and your child.