Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Kids Activities

What to Do in Calgary, Inside, in the Winter, With Young Children

It’s freezing out.  What do you do inside, in Calgary, with young children in tow and the desire to keep your sanity in check?!

 Today I wanted to present a list of options, ranging from expensive to frugal, that will help you get through those cold winter days with your sanity in check 🙂  This list is tailored for parents rolling with little ones under the age of 6. 

RECREATION (GYMNASTICS, POOL, OPEN GYM) ($2-$10) The City of Calgary provides some great drop-in programs at its recreation centres for a minimal cost.  The key is printing off and getting to know the schedules.  On Sundays at our local pool, Canyon Meadows, there is $2 swimming.  At certain days and times, you can access the facilities for much cheaper than usual.  

Since Calgary is a huge city, it is easier to search by location (quadrant) and then see what the offerings are each day.  Here is a link to search by location.

In the south of the city, we like the independently operated TRICO Centre which has a variety of drop in play, gymnastics and open gym programs for great rates. 

EARLY LEARNING SPACES AT CALGARY’S LIBRARIES (FREE) The Early Learning Spaces at Calgary Public Libraries. Our favourites are Fish Creek and the brand-new Downtown Library, and Calgary Playground Review has given an awesome preview of each of the Libraries, check them out here! 

DEVONIAN GARDENS AND INDOOR PLAYGROUND / THE CORE SHOPPING CENTRE

Explore Devonian Gardens and its fantastic indoor playground inside of the core shopping centre downtown.  A nearby foodcourt and stores to check out makes it a great option. 

TELUS SPARK SCIENCE MUSEUM- CREATIVE KIDS MUSEUM + DOME SHOW $19

This is an expensive day out, but make your $19 per child last by taking in a Dome show and the creative kids museum at Telus Spark (in addition to the main museum.) 

Visit the Calgary Children’s Reading Place (free-reservation required)

An absolutely magical house in Inglewood, filled to the brim with books, secret nooks and crannies and magical themed rooms for your little readers.  There’s also a lovely little craft room upstairs for your creatives! Absolute favourite place of ours.  

Attend a Craft Workshop at Michaels Stores 
Michaels is always running crafts for all ages for a minimal cost (often a toonie for the Saturday Kids Club classes which run 1-2 hours)  – you do need to stay in the store, though.  Just try not to spend a gazillion dollars while you are there.  🙂 

Treehouse Indoor Kids Playground

I have a hard time with indoor playgrounds (read: anxiety) but Treehouse Calgary which has a north and south location, has quickly become a favourite of ours and is well worth the admission.  Includes a cafeteria and seating area so you can sip a coffee and let the littles free in the expansive playground (which is lovely and clean with friendly staff, btw.) 

Watch a $5 movie at Canyon Meadows Cinema

Canyon Meadows cinema is a hidden gem, which screens $5 movies.  It’s a great day out for the kiddos.  

Attend Family Yoga (or drop them off for Unparented Yoga or full day workshops) at Wymbin Yoga in Inglewood.

Wymbin runs wonderful kids yoga & activity programming and has a variety of options, including a 2 hour unparented class for ages 3 and up, with options to add on extra time.  It is a great opportunity to explore inglewood or gather your sanity at a nearby cafe or restaurant 🙂

The Esker Foundation Art Gallery often has wonderful programming and tours for children. 

They have a mini masters art class, as well as a “bring the baby” art tour of contemporary art. 

Go for a Skate (they have rentals and skating assist frames for the kids) at the Olympic Oval

Go cuddle the animals and gaze at the tropical fish at any Petland Store – we personally like the Deerfoot Meadows Location which has a cuddle room for their cat residents too.  

Take your crazy cat lady / man to the Regal Cats Cafe in Kensington and enjoy a coffee!

Load up on crafts at your local loonie store and keep a cold / rainy day craft box. 

Make an indoor obstacle course in a long hallway in your house, using pillows to jump over, shoe laces that are ‘snakes” and of course, red shirts that are ‘hot lava.’

Feed the baby Trout at Bow Habitat Station and get a tour. 

Feed the baby Trout at Bow Habitat Station and get a tour. 

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Families in Calgary, Lifestyle Design

Great Canadian Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband, Husband Stocking Stuffer Ideas.

Today I present some great stocking stuffer ideas  and gift ideas for your husband that don’t completely suck (I ran them by husbands.)

Creating stockings is my favorite part of christmas, and I spend all year scoping out the shops here in Calgary and pinning, so you will notice many local items, but often you can find a comparable on Amazon.  

Enjoy these ideas, I hope they give you a creative boost!  I’ve linked to Amazon Prime where I can for convenience (and better price) but as always, shop local as much as you can!  I hope this gives you some great ideas – it was fun to put together! 

Award-winning Escuminac Maple Syrup set of 3 – Extra Rare, Great Harvest and Late Harvest organic syrups with 3 taste experiences.  
Endurance athlete in the house?  Pure maple syrup energy packs! 
Do you remember your parents having one of these moving sand art frames in the 80s, and how mesmerized / relaxed you felt?  They’re back! 
THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR CAMPING LIFE.  The aeropress.  Just get it.  Nuff said. 
A bag of Five’21 Roasters Coffee, delivered to your door. Subscriptions available.  Organic, locally roasted by a firefighter. 
Turtle Lights and Accesory Biners from MEC are less than $5, and they always get used!  
The GSI Compact Pot Scraper for Camping (buy two because you’ll wind up stealing one for your kitchen, they are THAT good.
The life straw emergency water filter.  This is all you need to access water in any place.  Cheap and life saving!
The guys I know all swear by this stuff, it works as shampoo AND shower soap. 
Admit it, this is secretly a gift for you! Your husband won’t ask where the keys are with the Tile set of 2 – your can ring them from your smartphone and find stuff!  No digging through drawers or pockets again 😉 
Your husband will LOVE these, these are the absolute best of the best in car care products.  Auto Glym is a British line, available at Canadian Tire.
If you have kids, your husband’s vehicle is probably being slowly destroyed, so buy the following:
Interior Vinyl & Rubber care
Leather Care Balm
The Odour Eliminator (Smells amazing and works)

Add some extra polishing clothes in there for a very easy stocking stuffer win! Trust me this is an excellent present.
Burts Bees Chapstick 4 pack so he’ll stop stealing yours. 
If your guy has been to Thailand, not only will this give him flashbacks, but Tiger Balm is MAGICAL!  Insect repellent, pain reliever, burn reliever, headache reliever and it actually helps with restless legs.
Grab Facial Fuel Lotion from Kiehls – guys love this stuff (they give you tons of free samples, stocking stuffer win!) 
Main gift but a GOOD japanese knife from Knife Wear in Calgary, best investment!
The Beer Cozy line of Flip Flops from Sanuk (in Southcentre Mall or online – absolutely outstanding quality and the most comfortable / durable flip flops he’ll ever own. 
Silk Road Spice Market Black Truffle Salt – and any of their spices – less than $10 and he’ll love!  We recommend St. Laurent Steak Spice & Argentinian Chimmichuri
Incredible, big crystals of salt – you’ll never go back to any salt after trying this British salt. 
I have learnt that you can never have enough iphone chargers. For the car and the house and his work. 
If you are crafty this one is hilarious and fun 🙂
Did you know Alum stone blocks naturallyc lose shaving nicks? It is naturally antiseptic and soothing which also removes redness. This one is handmade in France. 
Stypic Pencils immediately stop bleeding from shaving cuts and nicks.  Fascinating right?!
MEC Dry Sleeves for active guys to put keys & phone in.
So cliche but I had to because these are really nice wool gloves at MEC
How fun are these?  All you need is your favourite spirit & these for a back country cocktail! At MEC
Walnut Docking Station – lots of options on Etsy and Amazon~this one is prime and better priced than the ones I found on Etsy and has good reviews. 
Portable, small, folding solar charger for electronic devices. 
Families in Calgary, Family Activities, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature and Forest Play, Outdoors Activities

Winter Activity Ideas for Families (and Christmas, too!)

When we first moved to Canada, we were amazed by the snow, and very quickly became acquainted with frost bite, frozen eyelashes and all sorts of other classic Canadiana childhood moments.  25 years later, we haven’t lost our love of this magical season.  

And 25 years later, I still hold to the philosophy that if you are going to live in a country where winter runs from October to May (we had snow in September this year) – well, you might as well learn to love it, right?

I bring to you a list of really fun things to do as a family in winter.

First, go on a Christmas decoration hunt!  Print off this PDF I made for you and have the kids cross off each item when they see it!  We grab hot chocolates (and peppermint mochas for the parents of course) and it’s a fun evening! 

Pick up some toboggans and google toboggan hills in your area.  In Calgary check out the brilliant toboggan ‘bowl’ in Mapleridge, just off Acadia Drive.  In Canmore, the toboggan hill at the Canmore Nordic Centre.  

Watch the Grinch (Jim Carrey version) and have popcorn doused in butter. Or, grab a bag of that DELICIOUS Boom-Chicka-Pop peppermint popcorn.  Don’t forget to put mint lindtor chocolates in the freezer.  A christmas classic! 

Play Christmas light bingo.  Grab a happy meal, and drive around locating different christmas lights and decorations.  

Try making Maple Taffy in the snow.

Build a Gingerbread House

Make Christmas ornaments with supplies from the loonie store – pipe cleaner christmas ornaments with beads strung on them, popsicle stick snowflakes with jewels stuck on, there are so many options!

Bake some cupcakes or cookies, have the kids decorate them and take them to an elderly neighbour. 

In Calgary, go skating on Bowness Lagoon (North), Olympic Oval (Central) or Spruce Meadows (South) – feeling ambitous?  Skate on Grotto pond just before Canmore. 

Make a bird feeder with a pinecone, honey and wild bird seeds.  Even better, in Calgary go to Fish Creek and find the chickadees.  Curious, friendly and very happy to flitter onto your arm. 

Print off 12 days of kindness cards and divvy among the family.  Each day, a family member does something kind, writes it on the back of their card, and puts it into a kindness jar.  It is a lovely ritual to read all of them out. 

 Make hot mulled wine, and go out for a winter walk with it in your coffee mug (not for the kids lol)

Have a winter time charcuterie picnic.  Ice wine, cheese, bread, crackers, meats and some nice dried fruits.  Don’t forget the blanket and snow pants 🙂

Fill squirt bottles with food colouring, and set up snow in a container for the kids to colour.  They can also ‘colour’ their snowmen. 

Make Poppycock and then try not to eat it all. 

Visit Santa at the shopping centre.  In Calgary, you can decorate a gingerbread cookie and watch a disney movie as well!

Write letters to Santa, go on a forest walk and hang them in the tree.  Replace them with Candy Canes so that the kids find them on the return walk.

Make Pinecone christmas ornaments with glitter glue and sequins, tie with a twine and hang in the tree. 

Go outside with a black cloth and look at snowflakes up close.

Sleep under the christmas tree!

Have a family photo shoot – in the winter!

Make an extravagant breakfast.  Waffles, pancakes, fruit – or perhaps german style with fresh bread, meats and cheeses. 

Take ALL of the pillows off the couches and make the best.pillow.fort.ever.  

Get walnuts and a nut cracker (for the older kids) and consume half your body weight in nuts by the end of the night. 

Make a frame out of twigs in the snow and make a scene using twigs, berries, pine cones, leaves, etc. 

Attend an event where carols are sung.  

Make smores on a fire pit or in your own living room.  Another option:  Roast Chestnuts.

Go to the library and pick up winter and christmas books. 

Mix up and sprinkle “Reindeer dust” on the snow on Christmas eve.

Dance to christmas songs

Watch Home Alone, of course!

Families in Calgary, Happiness, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, The Fourth Trimester, Working Mom

My Letter to New Parents who Are Feeling a Bit Overwhelmed with All of the Advice.

Copy of Marielle Price (1)

You have A CHOICE.  A choice in however you want to take on the next few years of your life, a choice in how you incorporate parenthood and you-hood in a way that works.

You have the RIGHT. The right to explore how parenthood has been defined by others around you, by the society around you and you definitely have the right to explore what you’ve picked up and taken on as your own definition, and what your deeper intuition is saying to you.

You have the RIGHT.  The right to ask questions, to ask yourself, is this really my belief, or someone else’s?  What feels right for me?  Am I doing it for me, or because I don’t afraid of being judged? What serves me and my family best?  What makes me hold back who I really am?

Parenthood is tricky.  People are intense about how it should be done.   I do believe most people come from a place of kindness… it’s just that they come at it with whatever their own background references are, and assume their background stories and beliefs should be yours, too. That’s a bit silly, isn’t it?

When well-meaning people share their own ‘idea’ of parenthood and attempt to push that style on you (most often without asking for permission,) defuse your irritation by remembering they do come from a good place. Good intentions. When kids are involved people are acting from love, not hate.  It’s noisy out there, everyone wants to tell you what you should do.  The fun part is though, that you have the right to question everything.  Smile and say to yourself “nope.”

I think we all forget, that none of us are parenting experts.  There’s no answer.  There’s never any one right answer.     That’s why the parenting industry is so noisy and loud and clamouring for our attention by dangling the sticks of fear and doubt in front of us (parenting magazines, anyone?) We’re all searching for the answers to parenthood which funnily enough, are within us, not out there. 

You have the FREEDOM. You have the freedom to break from the group.  Even if everybody REALLY wants you to follow the group and what has been done before and what is done now.  Or… what is done now according to some television producer out there, or magazine editor who chooses what gets published and put out to the public.

You have the ABILITY.  The ability to embrace doubt, to feel discomfort, feel a bit lonely, and seek out others on the same path, and in the proess, realize that you’re not lonely, or different – you’re perfect just the way you are.  Perfectly imperfect.

And hey, if you are a hexagon parent in an octagon world, wicked, that’s space for you and you can celebrate your hexagon-ness.  And the beauty of technology is that if you need others, you can find other hexagons to enjoy and share the journey with.

You have the RIGHT.  The right to explore which ‘conceptions of parenthood’ you picked up conciously and subconsciously.  You have the right to understand how much is habit and how much is intention.  Intention is fun in parenthood.  It’s where you decide what YOU want and then you practice it. Every day.

You have the DUTY.  The duty to get rid of the messaging and beliefs that do not serve you.  Get rid of any crap that stops you from being the best version of you.  Because the best version of you, is the best parent for your kids.   And guess who knows what makes you tick? What makes you happy?  That’s right… YOU.

We have a gift in this lifetime, and that is called choice.  To really own the freedom of choice though, you have to shake off the burden of being concerned about others’ judgments. You’ll always be judged.  Judging is powerless, we don’t have to take a judgement on…. yet we run around like they are lasers and they’ll take off our foot or maybe a leg, or an arm.  We are outraged.  We are hurt.  We frustrated when we get judged.  But.. here’s the question…why even take that judgement on board? we could have stepped over that lazer beam instead of walked right into it.

With judgment, the truth is, some people want to sit in their armchairs and be spectators and comment on everything.   They aren’t living their life and it’s much more interesting watching you live yours (?)  But you know what? They are not your concern.

You’re busy being on the field and in the game.

No athlete would win a game if they paid attention to the audience and followed the advice of 20,000 fans shouting 20,000 different things from every direction.

(So why do we do this in parenthood?)

The only people qualified to tell you if you are an awesome parent are your own kids, and in these early days at least, they will most certainly tell you that you are great, followed by a big wet sloppy toddler kiss, before asking you to get them a snack.

You have the DUTY.  The duty to take on only those approaches which are true to you and make you fulfilled –  because a damn good parent is any parent, of any style, who is at peace, who is present and who is growing.

I’ll leave you with this thought: According to stats Canada there are almost 10 million mothers in Canada. That’s 9.8 million women with totally different personalities, backgrounds, stories about what it means to be a mother and ‘styles’ of motherhood.  There’s plenty of room for all of us.

Families in Calgary, Kids Activities, Lifestyle Design, Nature and Forest Play, Toddler Gear

Toddler Mountain Bike Parks in Calgary – Fish Creek Mountain Bike Skills Park


Toddler fun in calgaryNot far from where we live is the Fish Creek Mountain Bike Skills Park (here is a map for the location)  and a description of the features on Trail Forks.

Don’t be mistaken, this bike park isn’t just for the big kids and adults.  This park is absolutely amazing for toddlers on balance bikes, as well!  It has been a wonderful (free) place for our family to get outside and play on our bikes for the last few seasons.

There is a dedicated beginner’s oval track for toddlers and small children to get used to it. We found that with both of our kids on striders, they preferred to walk up and ride down the hills on the pump track, so the oval is nice for them to go and do that at their own pace.

On the main pump track, you’ll find yourself trying to encourage them to move, to keep the bike traffic flowing if there are others there. And we all know how well a toddler takes to being told what to do 😉

There are a variety of features, and it is well spread out. The CMBA has a great little blurb on how to use the track, the terminology, and tips on skills such as how to get through a pump track, or around the berms.  The park itself is great for people like me – a mama of 2 toddlers and a baby whose eyes are usually darting around frantically like a mother chicken watching her 20 babies. They can’t go too far, and the parking lot ,as you can see in the photo below, is close by when you have to surfboard carry your toddler that doesn’t want to go home.  Excellent.

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It is located in South East Calgary, about 10 minutes from South Centre Mall and just a few km from Annie’s Cafe and the Bow Valley Ranche.

I highly recommend going over to Annie’s in the summer for ice cream afterward if it’s a hot day 🙂 It has a beautiful native garden, art installations and lots of places for the kids to explore while you sip coffee leisurely.  It’s a hugely popular spot so there’s always little friends to make.  Ah, toddler life, when you are up and out for the day at 8am because you’ve already been up for 2 hours….

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Photo Credit:  Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance (CMBA)

Interestingly, this park has been in the works for some time (15 years!) and for  a long time, there was strong resistance (and the belief that it wasn’t doable) at the Provincial *and* Municipal levels in Calgary, even as other parks were being built, such as Chestermere and Canmore.  This really surprised me, because I’ve always thought of Calgary as progressive and outdoor-activity oriented.

Once people retired, management changed over, etc. the project came to fruition thanks to the dedicated work and persistence of several advocates and the CMBA.

And did you know there are plans to put another park in at Glenmore Resevoir?!  Exciting!  $150k has been raised and about another $125k to go.

This park needs volunteer hours, material and equipment to continue finishing the development of it, especially the NW corner.  You can email the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance if you’d like to contribute in any way you can! bikepark@cmbalink.com

Go have fun!

 

xo
Carina

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Happiness, Kids Activities, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature, Nature and Forest Play, Outdoors Activities

Hiking Heart Creek Trail with Toddlers – Toddler-Friendly Hikes in Calgary and Canmore.

Heart Creek Trail with 2 toddlers and a baby 🙂 

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Today my husband and I rolled out of the house with our two toddlers (4 and 3) and baby (1) to finally go do Heart Creek Trail.  We haven’t done any hikes yet this summer, but we’ve heard about this trail on lots of family outdoors groups.

We find that with hiking, we HAVE to commit, get up and go.  It really takes commitment – no changing minds.  It honestly takes a bit of dedication, because so many things can happen in the 2 hours between the kids up at 6:30 and getting rolling at 8:30. Meltdowns, complications, distractions or just the weakening of our own willpower to get in the car and drive for an hour and a half! 🙂

One thing that I am constantly fighting in order to get to the mountains, is the urge to leave the house in a somewhat not-disastrous-state. It’s quite a state after morning wild animal feedings 🙂

I work so hard not to feel it but my house IS messier than the average house and I full disclosure, I am still working to shake off  shame about it (which is hard to do when you do get judged and it reactivates your shame.) I constantly feel the need to clean it before we go.  Which is silly, because even if I do clean it, my ‘clean’ is still messy to other people, so what’s the point? lol.

I had been succumbing to the urge to clean earlier in the summer and finding that I was using my best energy and best time of day to clean and “organize” – basically, more often than not, it would wind up resulting in us not getting out!  So stupid when it’s not even a value of mine, I’m just doing it because of long-held shame and fear of judgement.

So, for the second half of summer, I’m pretty much leaving the house a disaster, saying fuck that and going to the mountains!  This is a belief that is no longer serving me.

We try to get everyone up, snacks packed, everyone changed, stuff thrown in a bag and coffees ready for us. Almost always, somewhere along the line we usually forget a coat, or a pair of extra pants, or someone’s water bottle, but if it means getting up and out, we can roll with that 🙂

Now, with out out of the way, onto the fun part – Heart Creek Trail, it is toddler approved (4,3,1)

Heart Creek is ideal for age 3+

Under 3’s will get tuckered so have a mode of carrying if they do!

I am pretty adventurous with my BoB Stroller and Double Chariot Stroller, however, I’ll say that Heart Creek is *not* doable with a stroller.

However, there are lots of natural features to keep the toddlers going!  You start off with a very slight toddler-friendly ascent up a hill (top left photo), over rooty, rocky trail for about 10 minutes before the trail opens to a nice meadow and view of Heart Mountain.  From there on in, you follow the creek, where there are fun bridges criss-crossing the creek, a toddler-friendly crossing where they step over slabs of rock, and trail mostly consisting of loose and compacted river rocks and pebbles.

Despite the bear in area signs, it was a busy trail on a Sunday in July, but not overly busy.

We turned around at the climbing area (75% of the way) as our parent spidey senses were tingling and we sensed the kids were getting tired. It wound up being a good judgment call.  Always turn around before meltdowns, and leave something more to look forward to the next time.  That’s kind of our approach to hiking now.

I think in our earlier parent days we were adamant about completing the whole hike or trail and we’d always wind up carrying someone back to the car or dealing with meltdowns.

We’ve learned to let that mindset go and simply go for the experiences on the trail, rather than where the trail leads to, or the “accomplishment” inherent in a hike.  It takes a bit of work to pull back and turn around before you are ready to, but it makes for a better experience for everyone!

 


Tips to keep your toddlers going on a hike:


-Snacks


-Point out cool features (lots of mushrooms on your right, on the first part of the hike – keep your eye out for the cute pink ones!)


-Don’t see at it as getting to a destination – look at it as a chance to explore and play in different features along the trail. We loved the little creek crossings on the rocks as well as the bridges.

-Make nature bracelets so they can pick things along the way! Still have to write a post about this, but essentially, make a bracelet out of duct tape, with the sticky side up.  As your kids hike, they can add little things to their bracelets like leaves, moss, twigs and the occasional wildflower. 

-Scale it.  Remember they are little people in little bodies.  We really had to work on getting out of our “goal of completing a hike because we drove an hour there” mindset and focus on the experiences along the way on the trail.  Ironically, this is a really nice analogy for life. 🙂

If you enjoy reading about trails on blogs, here are some blogs about Heart Creek Trail written by other wonderful bloggers!  These are always what inspire me to get out there!

Other blogs on Heart Creek Trail & Area

I love the Hiking with Barry blog, he’s a lovely guy and sold me my XC skis last year! Here’s his blog on Heart Creek Trail 

Tanya scrambled up Heart Mountain (sans kids you can make it a great scramble / summit hike!)

Here’s the standard All Trails Heart Creek Trail Map

With or without kids, if you complete Heart Creek and still want more, why not do Bow Valley Nuclear Bunker after lunch and explore the man made cave inside?  (take a flashlight, it’s pretty cool and starts from the same area as Heart Creek!) 

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Happiness, Kids Activities

A List of Fun Things to Do in Calgary with a Baby and Toddlers during the Summer. Things to do With Children in Calgary.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN CALGARY, CANADA WITH KIDS UNDER 5 (SUMMER EDITION)

On my 2nd mat leave, I wrote a post on fun things to do with a baby and toddler in the winter.    

One thing we do in our house each season, is make a fun list of things to do with our 2 toddlers and baby, in that season (by the way Western Canadian seasons are really sunny and hot, or really sunny and freezing lol!)

I find that I’m not particularly creative in the mornings, which is exactly when we wake up, feed the kids, get them dressed and start fielding the questions of “Where are we going today?”

We also find that we come up with excellent unique ideas all the time but it’s when we are out driving or doing something, and then we forget about them!  So, this summer I made a point of writing down all of our ideas between my husband and I.

Many of these we have done, many of them we have not.

So, I present to you, the ultimate list of fun things to do in Calgary in the summer with a baby and toddlers / small children in tow.

Fun things to do in Calgary with babies and toddlers – Summer Edition! 

Go visit the Bow Hatchery.  Play in Pearce estate park, go feed the fish in the hatchery, get a kids’ fishing rod and catch a trout in the family pond.

Go park at Pearce estate park, enjoy the playground, walk through the nature trails to the newly opened LIvingston Channel for a morning of fun water play.  This is a separate channel off of the bow river, beside the kayakers’ rapids but is safe for kids. Remember your PDFs.

Visit lakes!  Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Park, Quarry Lake in Canmore, Two Jack Lake in Banff. All of these have sandy beach areas for the kiddos.

Visit Reader Rock Garden, there is a tea house / cafe and kids love climbing the rock steps.

Attend an open air theatre performance in Princes Island park, which has great playgrounds.  You can pick up a gorgeous picnic from the nearby River Cafe.

Take the Gondola up to Sunshine Meadows and walk around.  Have a beer at the day lodge.  Kids LOVE the Gondola ride.  You can also do Banff but it is $$$$.  Make sure you pick up coupons from any major mall’s information desk.

Visit a spray park. Our favourites in Calgary are:  (South) Glenmore resevoir variety park, (Central) Riley Park and (North) Bowness park.

If you are at Bowness park, take out a boat or ride the train that goes around the park.

Catch little minnows and watch your children delight in them nibbling their toes at the beautiful Bebo Grove in Fish Creek Park.  Don’t forget hot dogs and lunch – benches and firepits on a first come first serve basis.

Take the C-train downtown.  Let the kids splash around in the fountains at Olympic Plaza. Picnic in the sun and explore Stephen Avenue Mall (walking street downtown, often filled with vendors in the summer.) . If it’s too hot, head inside to the great playground surrounded by the Devonian gardens, inside The Core shopping centre.

Also downtown, explore the Dragon City Mall. Take the stairs up to the Dim Sum Restaurant, Feed the Koi Carp Fish and try out a few Dim Sum dishes. Very family friendly, especially on weekends.  Fast in and out service.

Roast Marshmallows over a fire pit anywhere in Fish creek. We particularly love Voitier flats area (end of elbow drive) – there’s a hidden tree house by the way, and very friendly chickadee birds 🙂

Rainy day?  Go to the massive, massive hide ‘n seek indoor playgorund facility – generously sized so you the parent can enjoy (or easily extract your crying toddler)

Another rainy day? Go see a matinee movie at any movie theater.  We like the Canyon Meadows movie theatre which has movies for cheap.

Rent a chariot and bikes from Nomad Gear Rentals, who come to YOU to fit gear and pick it up, too!  Ride 15km around Glenmore Resevoir.  Stop in the spectacular Jack Rabbit Trail area for the kids to explore the forest, and end at the family friendly 1600 pub for a pint and eats.

Feeling braver on bikes?  Park in Canmore, bike the Legacy Trail with your kids.  20+ km one way to Banff, but we usually picnic at a nice halfway point that has a lookout and picnic area.   Then, obviously, pub.  We recommend the Iron Goat. Try their grilled calamari and blueberry bison burgers.  OMG.

VIsit the Eau Claire Wading pool downtown, surrounded by Eau Claire Market.  Try and time it with one of the many festivals and events that take place in the area.  Walk across the bridge to Princes Island park and visit the famous peace bridge.

Visit the historical Annies Cafe in Fish Creek provincial park. Grab icecreams for the kids, beer wine or cider for yourself, and let them romp through the lovely native gardens and art installations.

On the road that goes to Annies is the AMAZING mountain bike skills park.  Little rippers on balance or pedal bikes?  Go early to avoid the teens, but they w ill love it.  Grab that well earned ice cream at annies or cool off at sikome lake after, both are on the same road.

If you feel like exploring further, when you exit annies cafe, in front of you in the distance  (1km) you’ll see the ridge on the other side of the park. Take the pathed path that way, cross fish creek and turn right to explore a set of caves in the hillside.  The path does a 2km loop (stream changes trail)  before returning to the bridge back across to annies cafe.

Have a brilliant day out at Kayben farms in Okotoks, about a 30 minute drive.  Giant slides, farm animals, forests to explore and a crazy fun giant inflatable trampoline for big and little kids alike.  Often live music on the weekends and damn good stone oven baked pizza.

Pick up fresh vegetables, pick berries yourself and visit the beautiful cafe and at Saskatoon farms.  The extensive labrynth of gift shops is a bit stressful with small unpredictable humans, but they’ll want to be over at the chicken pen anyways, so no worries there 😉

Go watch a movie on the 360 degree dome at the Telus Spark Science Centre. Save your money for this one, and the zoo, a day pass for a family will run you quite high.  Again, keep your eye out for coupons in books at the information desks at local malls.

Visit the Calgary Farmers’ market on Blackfoot Trail, your kids can romp in the barnyard playground while you enjoy coffee and market goodies.  We totally recommend picking up some spices at silk road spice market, the crafted store, and I’m always in eden essentials for crystals and bath stuff – don’t forget the amazing chicken sausages at missing link.  They are AMAZING.

Tip: They have single and double car strollers parked behind the playground so you can actually shop the market with happy toddlers enclosed,  and bring cash for the face painting booth right beside the playground.

Older kids?  Pick up some led candles from superstore grocery store, and set up a little evening candle light fairy picnic anywhere in Fish creek!

Visit St. Patricks Island natural playground, which is the back entrance to the zoo.  There is an amazing nature-inspired playground a short walk from the parking lot.  If you fancy exploring further, cross the bridge across the bow river and visit the east village playground and citizen sidewalk cafe / bakery in the east simmons building.

Want to grab some art and craft supplies?  Why not time it with the free art and craft classes that michaels offers for kids.  they run from 1-2 hours and you can leave them while you shop.  Check out the website for details.

Stand up Paddle board at Two Jack Lake or Canmore Resevoir. Rent from Bow Valley SUP once you are out there, they do lessons too – or Nomad Gear rentals in Calgary.  Small rental car? No worries. Rent an inflatable which fits in a large backpack and comes with a pump that is easy to use.

Both have beach areas so the parents can switch off!  Don’t forget a pfd for your kiddos who will want to climb aboard, and maybe a sense of balance 🙂 But don’t let bad balance stop you, you can always stay very stable and paddle on your knees!

Expose your children to a safe, easy, beautiful rockies “hike” close to Calgary.  Heart Creek Trail.

Build a tree house in fish creek.  Or better yet, find the ones that are hidden, like this Teepee on the ridge overlooking fish creek 😉    This particular one is a hit with our kids and saskatoon berries are nearby for picking and eating!

Pack up a picnic and go to Bragg Creek Provincial Park Day Use area (please not this is not west bragg creek day use area, the two are different.)   Take your children on the lovely Alder Trail hike, a short loop.  Keep it to 1km for the 2-3 year olds and don’t Cross the highway at the top of the hill –  just enjoy the forest, mossy slopes and creek.

4-5 year olds or using a carrier? Follow the trail, cross the highway and do the loop which will take you an extra 3 km.   You can do the upper loop with a trail stroller or chariot but you’ll have to handle it aggressively.  Carrier better.

There is a big expanse of grass, fire pits, benches and if you walk down the hill, there are wonderful areas for the kids to explore, throw rocks and wade in the water.  People have built some safe side channels for the kids to explore along with little bridges.

Another popular option is Fullerton Loop.  Combine with a stop in Bragg creek for ice cream and mamas, visit Gypsy Maries shop in the main shopping area for the most amazing selection of unique items and handmade stuff.

Visit any U-Pick Farm, or animal farm.  Calgary Corn Maze, Butterfield Acres are great options!

Go a bit further nto the mountains and explore Grotto Canyon, keep an eye out for petroglyphs in the wall and if you go all the way, you will be rewarded with a fantastic waterfall.

Troll Falls is another toddler friendly short hike.  Kananaskis village is a great stop for the kiddos to explore with ponds, restaurants and the hotel.  Troll Falls trail head is a 2 minute drive from the hotel and is a short, easy hike to a very spectacular waterfall.  I like being close to “bases” so that if we have meltdowns, we have alternatives!

Visit Heritage Park – it really is SUCH a great day out.  Your children will love it and the vintage rides are a blast even for grownups.  Don’t underestimate the swings or carousel 🙂   Make sure you introduce them to a root beer and vanilla ice cream float!

Try out Geo Caching and download an app.  You can do it all from your smart phone nowadays.

Do you have playground fans?  Check out the Calgary Playground Review with an ongoing list of Calgary’s best playgrounds!

Visit the new Youth Link police museum, located at Police Headquarters.  It is absolutely fantastic and even includes a helicopter simulation and a police car you can explore!

While you are up that way (northeast Calgary) grab some takeout and watch some planes land at the airport.  A highlight for toddlers.

Check Calgary event listings there are many social and cultural festivals going on! 

Go inside a real fire truck! Visit Calgary central library so your kids can explore and read inside a firetruck. Firefighters even come by to read children stories!

Pick up a cheap second hand book in the wonderful childrens’ section at fair’s fair books in Inglewood.  Book worms will love the random chairs and aisles of used books, memorabilia and oddities.  Afterward, go across the street to the Hose and Hound pub for a pint and lunch in an old firestation.  Walk across the street and enjoy the enclosed playground and sandpit behind the Alexandra Centre Society.

Feel like a break?  Why not put your little ones into an unparented yoga class at Wymbin yoga in Inglewood while you check out the amazing  (and child and dog friendly) Cold Garden Brewery or shops in Inglewood? We love the Yoga Sprouts class, great for 2-5 year olds.

Other Inglewood Favourites? Live music, amazing curries and more at Gravity Espresso and Wine.  The best sub sandwiches ever at Spolumbo’s Deli, the outdoor playground at Mills Park, exploring the trails of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and walking across the bridge to the east village playground.

Keep your eye out for the free Calgary’s Child, Where Calgary, Impact and Avenue Magazines about town.  Really well produced magazines.

 

Tip: They also throw amazing birthday parties for the little ones.  

Budding thespian and book worm?  Visit the Fish Creek Library with its spacious, toy-filled early learning area, and its stage with costumes that the children can perform on.  Lots of music and reading days too, check out the schedule.

Rainy day?  Wave pools abound.  Our favourite is Southland Leisure Centre.

Watch your children collapse into fits of giggles at Loose Moose’s improv and children’s theatre.   This theatre is behind the awesome Blackfoot Farmers Market.

Rent a tent or if you own one, camp at home!  set one up in your yard. Remember, for your kids this is magical!

Book a visit to the Calgary Children’s Reading place.  This house downtown has been completely designed as a reading house with nooks, crannies and secret spaces to curl up and read in. At the end of the visit, your child gets to select a book and bring it home. This is a MUST do with small children in Calgary.  if you love books you’ll be blown.away and the resident “house mothers” will help make the visit extra special for the little ones.

Visit Pinterest for a multitude of childrens nature craft activities.  A favourite of ours is making nature bracelets, since there are so many lovely wildflowers in the summer.  Make a bracelet with duct tape and have your kids explore, and find things to stick on their “bracelets.”  I plan to write about each of these on the blog, so stay tuned.

Tip: search “nature bracelets” “nature stick loom” “mud faces on trees” “forest faces” and “journey sticks” for some amazing nature ideas.  

Make an Inukshuk (or cairn) by the river or on a trail where rocks are to be found.

I hope this list gets you started exploring around Calgary!

PLEASE add to this list if you have more suggestions, hopefully this will make your summer in Calgary a wonderful one!

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Grounding, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature, Nature and Forest Play, Physical Wellness

Reconnect with Nature on Maternity Leave x How to Practice Mindfulness in Nature.

Venturing back out into the worldwith your new baby(and reconnecting with nature)

A huge goal I had for myself on maternity leave was to get back outside and enjoy the natural world.  I drowned my Pinterest boards in beautiful images of happy women with their babies in carriers and backpacks.

I also curate my social media feeds, I only follow those whose lives I admire and aspire to.  To have images of nature based parenting scroll through my screen, is incredibly inspiring and I believe it acts on a subconscious level as well.  I joined Facebook groups as well, and there are many communities of brave mothers getting out there in nature with their kids, like Annika of Born to Be Adventurous, Family and Sally of Wholistic Health YYC, Tanya of Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies – there are so many.  The beauty of Instagram too is you can find circles of people who are living the lives with their children that you’d like to, as well and they will 10000% support you! No overly concerned ladies here commenting on how it’s hot for your baby and should you really be hiking? dipping her in that cold water? etc etc.  (Yes I’ve had many well-meaning strangers approach me on adventures out, especially on snow days.)

Why was nature time with the kids such a draw for me? Getting outside has always been a form of meditation.  When I am out in nature, I reconnect with natural rhythms and the simple enjoyment of fresh air.  I come back recharged and feeling alive.  Somewhere in the great outdoors, I grind out anxiety and racing thoughts under my trail shoes.

In order to have a great maternity leave, I knew I would need to reconnect with nature somehow.

In the first few months of my winter-born’s life, I was, among other things, intimidated to do simple things like take her to the mall for the first time in the stroller, put her in the carrier for the first time, go out for my first winter walk (I do live in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, we are talking snow piles and biting winds!)  I went from brave and courageous to avoiding going out because I was putting off unfolding my stroller and putting my baby in a snowsuit for the first time.  The struggle really is real!

I am very happy to admit I HAD NOT, AT ALL expected this strange sense of intimidation and newness. Every activity, from the mundane to the complicated, would take a concerted effort.

Was it a lack of confidence?  Not necessarily.

I knew that both my daughter and I were freshly born into the world as new people.  Her a new human, I a new Mum.  Just as her eyes grew wide trying to take everything in, my eyes grew wide at the thought of bringing a floppy, fragile little creature with me on my former adventures.

As we slowly began to venture out in the world, it made me laugh.  I was VERY intimidated using the Bob Stroller for the first time and had to watch youtube over, and over, and over to figure out how to unfold it and put it in my car… but it was all new to her, too. The first time a dandelion blew apart in the wind ? MIND BLOWN.  Bird song? CAN’T EVEN.

When I started noticing the profound appreciation in her face for every tiny moment or whisper of a sound, I knew I’d be shifting the scale of my outings.   I, too, began to profoundly appreciate tiny things.   Ladybirds in the grass, dragonflies buzzing by us.  The fresh smell of crisp autumn air.  A sunset setting the mountains on fire.  Tiny things.  Instead of focusing on the vista of the mountains, my focus narrowed to leaves on the ground, frost covered twigs on the tree and snowflakes falling on the stroller, outlining their crystalline shape.

Have you ever been walking through your city and you get stuck behind tourists gawking at the buildings, or scenery?  It’s sort of the same when you are with a little human. EVERYTHING. SO. AMAZING. MUST. PHOTO. CANNOT. HANDLE.

The key to a brilliant maternity leave is scaling your outdoor activities down, way down, we’re talking to the scale of a baby – or a toddler.  You’ve got your whole life to scale back up, but for now, scale small and watch how nature takes you in.

This the essence of a “micro adventure.”

Smaller scale, commitment, duration, scale.

This does not mean smaller rewards.

I have found profound happiness in our little adventures every day. The scaled down adventure leads to closer inspection and appreciation of the world in our path. Rather than planning a huge day out once in a while when the stars are aligned (the parents are prepared and the children are happy,) I get out in nature, reconnect and rebalance in very simple ways.

You’ve got your whole life to grow up and grow back outward into nature.  Why not join with your little one and get down to their scale, and grow with them.

Get out there in the fresh air, take in the world through the eyes of your baby and prepare to be awed. Nature has some treats for you, too.

 

xo