Ask the grumpies: Where do I find family activities

First Gen American asks:

Where can I find new ideas for enrichment activities for my family. I have gone to every museum, zoo, etc in my driving radius.

Sometimes there are mommy forums that share this kind of information.  I have a friend who is from China and she finds things on the local WeChat and then passes them on to me.

There’s a lot of stuff available online these days.  We have been enjoying Outschool for DC2.

You might be interested in looking into things like the the Vanderbilt Mentorship Immersion program that DC1 did the other year and really enjoyed.   (They have other Programs for Talented Youth too, but some of them require residency.)  And of course, lots of summer camps and things like that that you can google.

Your kids might be able to do community college classes.  Or online classes at other schools.

In terms of one-offs, I’m not so sure, but maybe Grumpy Nation can help?


11 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Where do I find family activities”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    My younger son just asked for more family dinners. That stuff matters to a teen apparently. With jobs and traveling more for work, we got out of the habit.

    I guess if the simple things are done right, the enrichment stuff is just gravy.

    There is a place not far from here that doesn’t dogsled riding but I keep forgetting to check when the snow is good.

    • Debbie M Says:

      There can be enrichment at home if they’re interested in anything you enjoy doing or that you wouldn’t mind learning along with them. For example, they could try cooking, sewing, building things, repairing things, etc. If they are in Scouts, they might like to work on badges.

      Your local library and community center might have activities, and of course the library would have books of all kinds.

  2. FF Says:

    I’m not sure what counts as enrichment, but around where I live you could pick your own fruit (and then cook with it after), go on farm tours, alpaca/llama walks, or do goat yoga. Soon there will also be things like corn mazes, hayrides (there will have haunted hayrides soon for Halloween), nature walks, cave tours. There are also local websites that list activities for kids, and the newspaper also lists these types of activities and local performances.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Off topic: I don’t know for how long this will be matched, but if you want to sneak diverse books into classrooms in Texas, here’s a donors choose:

  4. CG Says:

    We are bad at this. We take pretty awesome vacations, but mostly just do the daily grind of activities and social events when we’re home. We are pretty consistent with family dinners, though.

  5. Lisa Says:

    I had a conversation with my mom and aunt the other day in which I lamented our very bland, boring summer. They both jumped in immediately, pointing out that we went to Hawaii over spring break, and took two nice local weekend trips. Which made me realize (1) that we are very privileged and spoiled and (2) that my standards for a “fun” summer are very different now than they were when I was a kid (when I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money and would be lucky to take 1-2 local trips in a summer).

    I don’t mean to detract from the desire to provide great opportunities for your kids, but I’m trying to give myself a break and appreciate the things we can do while not fretting about what we can’t. My kids have it pretty good and have had amazing experiences I never had, even if it’s not every day!

    Some suggestions/ideas: we like the subscription crates from (I think we’ve tried them all) – something different and interesting the kids can do without too much help from me. There are a lot of different subscription services like this. We’ve also enjoyed Dear Holmes (Sherlock Holmes like mysteries that I gifted my dad for the holidays – an older kid who is a mystery buff might also like this). Our local libraries always have a fun summer reading challenge and other things going on throughout the year. We do music lessons and sports teams. We went horseback riding once this summer, which my youngest enjoyed so much that they cried themselves to sleep that night because they missed “their” horse. We enjoy bowling at the University student union. One of the golf courses around here has mini-golf and foot golf (you kick soccer balls into goals), and we did disc golf in the mountains this summer. Lots of fun things to do if/when you have the time. But I agree, the simple every day habits are probably the most important for creating a stable and supportive environment!

    • omdg Says:

      Yes this, exactly. Trips are super expensive and when I was a kid we went to visit the grandparents and that was it. I went to a camp for a few weeks during the summer. It was super chill – we played kick the can and swam, ate lunch and a counselor read Superfudge to us, we swam again and went home. I’d go to the library and the whole month of august would do basically nothing. Now it seems the expectation is that every summer activity be an “experience” that is either enriching or an unforgettable family experience. I’m trying to put less pressure on myself to optimize my kid and family all the damn time.

      That said, I use a local Facebook group and my work colleagues to find local activities if I want to do something fun with my daughter.

  6. EB Says:

    For kids who have a lot of organized activities, unstructured outdoor time also counts as enrichment. Either at home, in a park, or in some natural area. Especially with a group of other kids, ideally mixed-age.

  7. Alice Says:

    We still aren’t getting out of the house that much, but our standard weekend routine pre-pandemic was to go to the rec center in the morning and the library in the afternoon. Sometimes we’d also go to a playground–either one we already knew or a new one. Enrichment destinations were rarer, but we were fine with repeats.

    You could consider going places that are further afield if your location and willingness both accommodate it. With my stepdaughter, we once did a dinosaur weekend to a nearby state– left on Friday evening and arrived at our destination late, spent Saturday doing a fossil-walk and museum trip, then did a slow drive back on Sunday with a touristy town stop and two hiking stops. We wouldn’t do this with my daughter at her current age because she doesn’t seem to be able to sleep in the car and would get cranky with the amount of driving… but with the right kids and ages, it’s doable.

    If you’re good with screens, you could integrate some enrichment things into at-home days. My kid has seen parts of ballets and other performances because of Youtube. And although we haven’t done it yet, she’s likely to see the Louvre via a virtual tour long before she sees it in person. On the non-screen front, we are pretty much All Over any astronomical event that can be seen from the yard, and she is currently very into constructing things out of paper and tape. It makes a huge mess, but she’s enjoying the creativity. And messes can be cleaned up.

  8. Allyson Says:

    We have a local parent’s magazine with a weekly email list. That’s where I find out about local events. Mine are 7 and 10, however. I have some local Facebook groups that help as well. First Gen American, I love the idea of just focusing on family dinners as you mention, and having teens continue to build on their cooking skills.

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