It used to be a nightmare to take Connor anywhere. When he was an infant, we’d cover his pumpkin seat with a light blanket, much like a canary in a cage, as a barrier to sensory overload whenever we visited Wal-Mart or the grocery store. As a toddler and through pre-school, Connor would often refuse to get out of the car when we went to the zoo or to a children’s museum. And movies…Connor couldn’t sit through previews until he was five! So much money and time were wasted, and yet…he took his first plane ride when he was only three and half years old. The only thing we can advise is to keep trying! Here are a few things that have worked to get us out of the house (and away from the Wii):
1. Family bike rides. If your child doesn’t ride a bike, you can rent a tagalong. It attaches to an adult bike, and has its own handlebars and pedals.
2. Movies. Request your local theater to institute a special needs day once a month with up-lighting, no previews, lower volume and noise allowed. When your child gets better acclimated to the theater environment, let him bring a friend. Movies make good play dates, because it gives the children something to do. Afterwards get a snack. More and more theaters are offering these special screening dates.
3. Travel. Prepare your child with an online preview of where you are going (e.g Lincoln Memorial, space museum, White House tour for DC trip). Provide a visual schedule of the transitions—wake up, go to airport, ride shuttle to the terminal, go through security, through jetway, onto the plane, off plane to the rental counter, to the hotel. Order room service the first night. Bring a portable DVD player for plane and road trips.
4. Nature hikes. Look for good weather – not overly hot, humid or cold. Find fossils.
5. Field Trips.Visit a non-children’s museum on a weekday when there are fewer crowds– Art, science, history, technology museums provide fun and/or beautiful things to view without all of the overly bright and distracting gizmos found in the children’s wings.
6. Swim, but at a private pool, not a crowded, kid-filled one. Some hotels offer day rates to use their pool facilities.
What family fun ideas could you add to this list?