Going Out Guide Thursday Chat: What to do with the kids

August 14, 2013

Summertime is -- gasp, whine, sob -- just about over. But that doesn't mean the fun is. We have a week left before many of the area schools start up, so let's discuss how to make the most of the wide-open days.

To help us in our quest, our guest tomorrow is Jessica McFadden (pictured at right), a Silver Spring mother of three who blogs about things to do at A Parent In Silver Spring.

She will be joined by me, Amy Joyce, Weekend/Going Out Guide assignment editor and mother of two busy boys, ages 6 and 3.5. (Yes, that's us a couple years ago. Who has time for pictures?!)


Here's a bit about Jessica's background and a few good secrets to the kid-friendly area.

Tell us about yourself and your kids. I am the mother and wrangler of three energetic, curious kids. Charlie is 9 and entering fourth grade, Eve is 7 and entering second grade and Alice is 2 and starting her first year of preschool.  When not shuttling the kids to their many activities, hosting playdates or performing exciting tasks such as laundry, I blog about local family-friendly offerings at A Parent in Silver Spring.com and affordable style for moms at A Parent in America.com.

How do you find one activity for all three of your disparately aged children to enjoy? I have found that physical, outdoor and animal-focused activities are winners with all three kids, from my rising fourth grader to Pull-Up-wearing preschooler Alice. County fairs, kids' festivals, zoos, swimming pools, splash parks, playgrounds, and pick-your-own farms all fit the bill. Activities which require sitting down and listening, such as movies, story times or musical performances are most successful when tailored to the kids' specific ages and interests.

What was your favorite activity this summer? To celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary, my husband and I took the kids with us for a mini-break to Ocean City. We used Expedia to find an affordable hotel right on the beach that allowed one night stays, left at the crack of dawn on the first day to beat the traffic, stayed until evening the second day, and we spent two full days boogie boarding and making sand castles. Via Twitter I learned of Fish Tales, an awesome family-friendly restaurant on the Bay with a playground, face painting, kids' meals and the most relaxed atmosphere. Our family achieved beach vacation nirvana and relaxation in just two days and while spending relatively minimal cash (or time in the car).

What’s your go-to thing to do on a rainy day? We "discover" a new library or nature center.  Although we have our nearby and go-to favorites, my kids always find it exciting to explore a new-to-them location. I visit the counties and District's websites first to locate a destination, plug the address into my phone GPS, pack a lunch and all of a sudden a new free field trip becomes an adventure.

What’s your go-to thing to do when your calendar is empty? We love using our family membership to the newly-opened National Children's Museum at National Harbor (open this summer Tuesday - Saturday until 4 p.m.). Preschooler Alice is obsessed with the 3 & Under Gallery/play space, and my elementary schoolers enjoy the performances, crafts and special programming.  Afterward, we grab lunch at one of the many family friendly restaurants, or bring a picnic to eat by The Awakening sculpture.

So tune in -- with kids or without -- because we have a lot to share with you.

Amy Joyce is the editor and a writer for On Parenting.
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Tim Carman | August 14, 2013