When I decided to take 4 months maternity leave this time with baby #2, besides caring for the new born, I started with a list of tasks I would like to accomplish – losing 80% of the baby weight, getting back in shape for 2017 triathlon, adding a real estate portfolio, re-organize books, toys & play space, etc…. also I’d like to explore the Chicago kids summer activities. The desire to have the first-hands experience as a working mom – such opportunity is rare and time to bond with Maia & Leia is so precious. In addition, as a business woman, I have tangible deliverables to 1). Put together an activity calendar that our nanny could execute once I go back to work 2). Enjoy & document a little kiddo summer vacation that I have been long for myself…
When I select the activity, LOCATION is the key, the location needs to be Bike-able, Easy to Park and Public Transportation Reachable (so our nanny could make it there independently in the future).
Here to name a few things we have explored so far – thought all the busy parents could benefit from some of the first-hands insights before summer ends (some we plan to extend to the cold seasons):
- Lincoln Park Zoo Toddler & Me Yoga: As an Ashtanga trained yoga practitioner myself, I have to say I am really impressed with this outdoor pavilion spot, how class is structured and zoo inspired yoga poses… I love this class so much that I have changed Maia’s preschool schedule, so we could attend this Thur morning 10am class for the rest of the summer! At home, we practice Tree (core balancing), Butterfly (hips opening), Down Dog (arms), Caterpillar (arm & core muscles) and Lotus (quite time) poses.
- Kidsville: Indoor free parking and public transportation reachable make me to explore this place. Especially now Bubbles Academy has moved…I am looking for a quality indoor open play space where classes are also offered to kiddos below age 5. So this place fits. We love the gym space (a indoor zip-line!) and music class (an actual live band playing). And soon Leia will join us.
- My Gym:Who doesn’t admire a high energy kid that batteries never seem to run out. This location at the Webster Plaza is great, and it is easy to park in the winter, the only issue is that there is no space for adults to chill out or to park the stroller.
- British Swimming School & Private Swimming Lessons: We have been swimming for almost a year, we started from crying at every lesson and now she is wearing swimming goggles to bed 🙂 We swim at the FFC Gold Coast location every Tue and take private lessons twice a week at Legacy Swimming Pool, as I could get 30 minutes to work out on the pull down machine. I found it is the best combination to learn in a structured progressing program (British School) vs. with a private instructor, as far as group class go, sometimes when it is a full class you only get 10-15 mins water time at each class.
- Happy Play Cafe: A lovely & calm place (hope they stay in that way) you could easily spend 2 hours with your kids or with few friends. Maia is excited about feeding birds but she is warm up with bunnies. Also a majestic train track station that city parents won’t be able to install at home is pretty cool. From time to time, art & craft project is offered for free.
- Pump It Up: Can’t compare this place with the state-of-the art jumping place at suburb, parking sometimes could be a challenge, but we bike to everywhere in the summer. A nice place to hide from the heat & cold. And who doesn’t like to jump!
- The Paintbrush: It is a quite sophisticated place for the toddlers – we took “Apprentice Artist” class, the instructor picked an art piece from a modern art book, talked to us about the background of the painter and then we created an art piece together. We made an “Modern Three Scoops Ice Cream” that day.
- Lil Kickers’ Outdoor Soccer: The transition from indoor to outdoor soccer practice is blissful, although we skip one class when it was 95F degrees! We will continue the Fall session back to indoor class. I am looking forward to the class that caregiver doesn’t need to be in, be honest, hard to keep up with silly games for 50 minutes 🙂
- Shedd Aquarium Summer Jazz Night: Shedd is our favorite museum, especially for Daddy. Although it features as a Family Friendly Jazz Night, it is mostly a night out scene for adults. However, I can’t complain the liberty of walking around with booze and pretzel bread in hands, for kids, please go straight ahead to the dolphins and penguin playground at L2, consume their energy, feed them and then go the terrace for jazz and more booze.
- Barnes & Noble Story Time: Every Tue & Sat morning 11am (be on time or earlier) at States / Elm location, 2nd floor, very nice environment, I usually walk away with some purchases, guess this is the way to keep physical bookstores survived.
- Language Star Mandarin Summer Camp @ OZ Park: Oz park is my favorite neighborhood park in Chicago, and to introduce a structured way of learning Mandarin is exactly what we need it, on top of Little Pim language program…hoping to cultivate a true bilingual / trilingual kid. I am very happy with the Chinese teacher. It is fun to watch Spanish, French and Mandarin camps happening at the same time, each group occupies a beautiful shaded corner of Oz park every Tue morning for 3 hours of emerging play.
Last, I have been using Parachute app to explore different activities and classes, some of the activities mentioned above were part of my discovery through the app – it is a kids’ classes & activities aggregation for Greater Chicago parents, just like Classpass for adults fitness programs, I thought it is a brilliant business model, although the institution would need to continue to expand its partnerships (and make it static- classes sometimes disappear) to make it sustainable.