hide and seek at the arboretum

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone, about how to stave off boredom this summer. I guess I've been resistant to over-scheduling up to this point because I know the time is coming (probably sooner than I'd like) that we'll have so many extracurricular activities to juggle I'll look back on these days and long for the relative freedom and, yes, boredom, of early childhood. But maybe you guys are right. Maybe I need to plan more activities, knowing we can always back out if it seems like too much. This next week is taken care of, actually, because swimming lessons start in the morning and a group of us parents from the preschool have put together an informal day camp every afternoon. (I'm in charge Tuesday and Thursday with a friend of mine, and I'm glad to say that she, at least, knows what she's doing!) After this week, though, I'll be sure to schedule lots of play dates and find new outdoor places to explore.

It's been an odd week weather-wise. We started off with record high temperatures well into the 90s, and then it got wet and downright chilly (we didn't even crack 60 on Thursday) with a fairly major storm system in between. In fact, we thought we'd be spending Wednesday night in our not-quite-finished basement, but after setting up "camp," the warnings were over and we went back upstairs. All this culminated into a Sunday with absolutely perfect weather, so perfect that Stuart came up with the idea, rather spur-of-the-moment, to have a picnic and go hiking in the UW Arboretum.

It was a brilliant idea. We picked up some take-out for lunch and headed out, ignoring the "No picnics" sign (we didn't know...next time we'll follow the rules and picnic somewhere else...) One of the wonderful things about the Arboretum - and there are many - is the giant gardens in the middle: basically several acres of meadow with hundreds of varieties of trees planted in the well-kept lawn. After eating our lunch, the kids wanted to play hide and seek amongst the evergreens. They found many fun places to hide, but there is so much open space out there we weren't really afraid of losing them. This game lasted nearly an hour.

See the beautiful cascading branches in that picture? This tree was their favorite place to hide, and if you could see it, you'd know why. Duck under those branches, and you'd be in what feels like a whole room, right by that tree, dark and quiet and secret.

We never made it to the woods for a hike, in part because hide-and-seek lasted so long it wore every one out, but mostly because we needed to go down the road a bit to the visitors' center for a potty break. In any case, our little outing turned out to be fun and even a little special for everyone. Sometimes those spontaneous trips end up being the best kind.


katie said…
I wondered if my comment about over-scheduling would be heard like this. It makes sense, because that is how the term is used these days: as a warning to not involve your kids in too many extracurriculars. I agree that that can backfire and even be harmful! What I meant in my comment is, I've over-planned our days, but not with extracurricular stuff. I meant something like this: breakfast, chore time, play with G time, snack, play outside, lunch, rest time, activity (craft or outing), snack, choice time, dinner, pick up time, baths, bed. If I have it all written out, we have the freedom to change it up or skip things. Just wanted to be clear, that I did not mean to recommend over-scheduling, like getting your kids involved in tons of out-of-home activities, because I'm not a fan of that : ).
Anonymous said…
I agree with Katie! :-)

Also, I wanted to add that one thing I really like about scheduling is all the opportunities for clean-up! "We have to clean up before we have snack" "We have to clean up before we do art" "We have to clean up before we go outside", I hear myself saying. I like this for three reasons! 1. the room (in my case) doesn't get as messy by the end of the day, 2. The kids get plenty of experience cleaning up (and 18 month olds need all the practice they can get!), and 3. it's an automatic transition from one activity to the next.

Ann, I used your periodic "Clean-up before we can do ____" at church on Sunday when Jamie and I were in Wee Worship. We had a group of 8 mixed 3 & 4 year olds. So, we couldn't have play time until we'd cleaned up our crayons from the lesson activity. Then we couldn't have our snack until we'd cleaned up the stuff we'd been playing with. Then we couldn't go outside on the playground until we'd cleaned up our snack messes. It was so wonderful to have parents come get their kids and realize we only had to wipe down the tables, then Jamie and I could leave, too!

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