It has been 160 days since we have been on restriction. This summer looks completely different than last year. ObieQ and I are usually on the go from one activity to the next. Once Mayor Lightfoot moved us into phase 3 I started researching activities that would get us out the house but in a safe way. ObieQ and my nephew Cassius are both in virtual summer camp with Bubbles Academy. In camp they make art, sing songs and work on outside exploration projects. Since they already have this strong creative foundation, I wanted to find activities that were just FUN!
There are a few guidelines I have used to make these outings easier
- Go as early as possible. This helps cut down on crowds
- Choose events that are outside and social distancing is possible
- Do your research and buy tickets online whenever possible
This list is what has worked for us. It has helped turn our summer of lemons to lemonade. None of these events are completely risk free. What I have tried to do is be smart and safe with each trip. Don’t use this as a summer bucket list. Use it as inspiration to make memories, spend time outside all while finding the right sweet spot in your comfort zone. We still have four months left of this year, let’s do our best to be creative and of course I will be right here to help.
My obsession with sunflower fields started last year. Women so carefree in fields of sunflowers. I was blown away that this was possible to see within driving distance of Chicago. Once I started to see the pictures flood my timeline this year I knew I wanted to make this a field trip. The trick was, I wanted to find a sunflower maze. I might be impressed with a field but my boys need something to DO! The sunflower season varies from farm to farm. I had to find one that still had flowers and was open during the week. I chose Tom’s Farm Market and Market in Huntley. Only about an hour drive and completely worth it.
Mama Fresh Tip: There are photo props throughout the maze. We used these to play a game of “eye spy” with the boys. They loved discovering these moments and we spent time at each one.
Last summer ObieQ became a farmers market aficionado. We were regulars at our neighborhood market and I loved that ObieQ was able to meet the farmers responsible for our food. Well this year we kicked it up a notch. He picked blueberries with his own two hands. We drove to Johnson’s Family Farm, which is just over the border in Indiana. We all got our own baskets and had a row to ourselves. The boys of course started a contest of who could pick the most. We were able to see blueberries in various stages of growth and talk about how they turn from pink to blue. You know what that is called, SCIENCE! See these trips are learning opportunities as well! We left with plenty of blueberries and made muffins the next day. ObieQ claimed these blueberries were the best he ever tasted!
Mama Fresh Tip: The fields are completely out in the open. Go as early as possible and bring the sunscreen.
Lincoln Park Zoo:
The museum and the zoo. Those have been ObieQ’s top requests of places he misses and wants to visit. Since I was sticking to my outside only policy, the zoo it is! I combed through Mom Facebook groups for advice from parents and it seemed unanimous: Lincoln Park had a system that was working. Twice a week the zoo releases free tickets for specific reservations times. Securing reservations was easy and the check in process was simple. Even though none of the inside exhibits were open there were plenty of animals to see. Masks were worn by everyone and the zoo had staff walking around to remind visitors to be safe with masks and social distancing. We left close to 1p and it was getting crowded, so I would suggest going early!
Mama Fresh Tip: Favorites like the carousel and train are closed. Have this talk before you go in. I found it was best to set realistic expectations about how this trip would be different from visits in the past.
This is a serious throwback activity!!! Pack up your cooler. Bring blankets. Grab your masks of course and head to your local pop up drive in. I was shocked how much the boys loved the drive in. There are plenty of options around the city and we chose Chi-Together pop up at Soldier Field. We arrived early to listen to the DJ, eat popcorn and get the boys comfortable with the idea of watching a movie from the car. As soon as it got dark, the movie started and their jaws dropped. We let them sit on top of our family car to watch the movie. When we left ObieQ told us it was the best night ever.
Mama Fresh Tip: Bring glow in the dark toys. You might as well get some use out of them after spending 1million dollars on them at Disney on Ice...LOL!
This has been our activity of the summer. Since we are working, attending camp and managing my biz all from home, there are days when it’s hard to tell when the work day ends and family time begins. These walks have been our secret sauce. We don’t venture far. The lakefront, a local park, even just around the block. I love the talks we have during this time. The memories we have created from grabbing ice cream at a local shop and going to fly a kite. The discoveries we have made in our own city, finding parks we never visited before. If you want to add some razzle dazzle, bring a blanket and grab some carry out. Picnics are all the rave right now. It doesn’t matter if you bring a fancy wicker basket or in my case a Happy Meal, either way it’s the quality time that your kids will remember.
Mama Fresh Tip: Leave the agenda at home. Simply pick a spot and explore. Let this outside time be led by your little one. If you make it to the lake great, but if you spend 20 minutes on the bridge walking over, do your best to be present in that moment.