Exploring the Capital With Your Pre-Teen

by Ali As the mom of two pre-teen girls, my mom-status borders on the verge of semi-ok to lame. While I try and stay cool, my girls will tell you I’m fighting a losing battle.  That being said, I still love to spend time with them so I’m always on the lookout for things to do with them that will promote me to a semi-cool rank. This year, I’m happy to say that I actually came up with a few things to do that weren’t as boring and babyish as usual, and my girls were actually less embarrassed than usual to be seen with me.

The Byward Market

I love the market, especially in the fall. I love the smells and the colours and especially the maple sugar candies.  My girls do love to window shop and people watch so this fall we headed down to the Byward Market to do just that. One of our first stops was the Moulin de Provence bakery. The delicious smells will knock you over and the Obama cookies are always a hit.  On weekends at the market, there are buskers and musicians to watch and in the summer and fall, the fresh fruits and vegetables are incredible. And once there, you should definitely take a look at the street vendors for a pair of earrings or a new scarf.

Starbucks in Westboro

When my eldest turned twelve, she decided that it was much cooler to hang out, rather than spend time with me.  Since I wasn’t ready to just let her go off with her friends ALL of the time, I started taking her for coffee (read hot chocolate) at the Starbucks in Westboro.  While we sip our drinks and people watch, she really opens up and starts to talk about everything that’s going on for her – her life, her friends and pretty much anything else she can talk about while the hot chocolate lasts. She feels very grown up and I feel lucky that she’s still willing to sit and talk to me. Of course, window shopping through Westboro after our coffee is an added bonus.

The National Art Gallery

The National Gallery of Canada was definitely a plus. Both of my girls are budding artists and they do appreciate taking the time to explore the different exhibits.  There is plenty of Canadian art with exhibits by Emily Carr, Tom Thomson and the Group Of Seven, but it also has a really cool Modern Art Collection. We spent a fun afternoon doing a “Ferris Bueller” and just stared at the amazing paintings.

National Arts Center

With daughters who dance competitively and who love being on stage, one of the coolest things we did was the backstage tour at the National Arts Centre.  On October 2nd, (one of the Culture Days at the NAC), my girls got to experience many areas of the NAC that they had never seen before.  We got to saw the NAC stages, the dressing rooms, the backstage corridors and set-building shops on this self-guided tour. They also have tours on performance days for the first 12 visitors (first come, first serve).

The HI-Ottawa Jail

In this haunting season, the next adventure I have planned for us is a haunted tour of the Ottawa Jail Hostel. The jail served as Carleton County Goal from 1862 to 1972. After it closed, it was turned into a youth hostel.  Guests sleep in renovated prison cells or in the former offices of the prison staff.  Rumor has it that many a guest has told stories of ghostly apparitions appearing at the bottom of their beds, mysterious footsteps, and banging in the walls. It was even named one of the seven spookiest buildings in the world by Lonely Planet. Hopefully, this will be a hit.

So there are a few of the things I have found to do around Ottawa that allowed my girls to maintain their oh-so-cool and hip pre-teen status. I’m still on the look-out for more things to do that, when mentioned, won’t make them roll their eyes and groan “Aw, Mom!”  So please, help me keep my not-quite-cool-but-not-totally-lame mom status and share your favorite pre-teen haunts.

Ali is a psychotherapist, blogger, social media enthusiast and chocoholic. She is also a Dance Mom to two awesome girls. She is the owner of Second Act Consignment Dancewear and creator  of Therapy Stew. She blogs at AliGoldfield.

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