My friend Samantha shares some of her favorite mom and baby activities in her hometown of Dallas, TX. She has two little ones now, so we should really listen to her:
Monday — The Dallas Arboretum
The Dallas Arboretum
Pack a lunch and head out to the arboretum for Mommy-and-Me Mondays. Typically the event includes the usual – face painting, petting zoo, music, strolling, picnicking. But autumn is extra special because so many things are going on. The Ultimate Tree House Exhibit is on display featuring 13 “extreme” tree houses that kids can stomp around in. The pumpkin patch and hay bale maze are perfect for Halloween and Fall pictures. Hay rides are offered daily. You’ll have a tough time figuring out where to picnic because there are so many nice areas to choose from. Consider buying an annual pass because it’s the type of place you’ll want to visit again and again.
Tuesday — Chic-fil-A @ Central Expressway & Southwestern
If you don’t have kids, don’t bother trying to go there. It is mommy and kid central. Husband working late or out of town? Drop in for a quick and cheap meal and let your kids play in the play area. It has a nice clean indoor play area enclosed with glass so you can watch what your kids are doing while you sit with your friends and chat. The staff circulates the restaurant offering refills and balloons. They even provide little servings of cheerios lest you forget your own!
Wednesday — Cry Baby Matinee
Angelika Theater Cry Baby Matinee, Tuesday and Wednesdays at 1:30 PM — Any movie theater that invites crying babies and nursing mommies is a friend of mine. Relax and enjoy an independent film, while privately hoping your little one will fall asleep soon. The last time I went I thought it a bit odd that I was sitting in a movie theater with my screaming baby, while watching an obscure documentary about Dietrich Bonhoffer, a German theologian executed by Nazis. But hey, a movie is better than no movie.
Mockingbird Station, 5321 E Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75206
Thursday — hit the gym
The Towne North YMCA. Everyone has their favorite gym and this one is mine. Plenty of parking, free childcare for up to 2 hours (no advance reservation required), friendly staff, nice shower facilities, plenty of equipment, great pool and spray ground during the summer, what else could you ask for? I like to get there at 4pm when the afternoon childcare service opens, which just happens to coincide with when my youngest daughter requires a bottle. That’s one less bottle feeding for me. I workout for 30-45 minutes, then take a nice quiet shower, get dressed, actually do my makeup and blow dry my hair. All of these activities I might just blow off with kids in tow. All the while, my children are playing with other children and learning how to socialize. It’s a win/win for all. Find a gym near you that offers such amenities. It’s pure heaven.
Friday — treat yourself
Let’s face it, sometimes you have selfish needs. Consider making a babysitting co-op with close friends, family, or neighbors. Tradeoff for 2 hours at a time so you can run errands, get your oil changed, have a root canal, go shopping, or take a nap. Remember to choose people you can depend on and lay the ground rules up front so that everyone is happy.
Saturday — go for a walk
Put your sneakers on and go for a walk. Some great stroller-friendly places that I like:
- Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, 6701 W. Parker Road — Finally a scenic place in Dallas to take a walk! Ok this isn’t actually in Dallas , it’s in Plano but it’s just close enough to be worth it. It has 2 miles of paved scenic trails which includes trees, bridges, streams, slight hills, and a wonderful outpost from which to view the entire preserve. The park has the largest playground I’ve ever seen and has some picnic benches so pack a lunch if you want. If you’re not feeling up to it, there’s a McDonalds down the street.
- The Katy Trail — Situated conveniently in the Knox/Henderson area, it’s perfect to the urban Dallas mom. It’s straight, flat, scenic, and there’s a Starbucks right on Knox. My suggestion is to park in the dirt lot behind Sur La Table, go get your coffee, then cruise along the trail.
Sunday — market time
Central Market, 5750 E. Lovers Lane
Take another look at your grocery store and see it as a learning experience, rather than just another errand. Pick up every other fruit and vegetable, or just those with silly names like “kiwi” and have your toddler repeat back their names. Enunciate each syllable to make it stick. Have him touch the peach skin and describe it. Don’t just shove the free food samples toward your child, discuss the essence of the brie as it hits your palate and why it’s so much better than the mozzarella. Head to the lobster and crab tanks – always captivating to little ones. And don’t forget the floral section, have your child point out flowers in every color of the rainbow.