Looking Back: Our Most Popular Posts from 2017

What a year it's been for Kids in the Capital! 2017 was #Canada150 which meant posts about all the fabulous activities there were to see and do in the National Capital Region. We had a lot of great posts this past year and we're sharing our most popular of 2017 - surprisingly, not all of them were written this year! Remember to bookmark your favourite posts - especially for summer when you're looking for fun outdoor activities!

Most popular posts of 2017

10) High Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier: Every afternoon, High Tea is served in Zoe’s Lounge at the Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa. The decor in both the Chateau Laurier and Zoe’s is beautiful and posh. Scones, sandwiches, fruit salad and desserts served on fancy tiered dishes make eating fun! This activity runs all year long and is ideal for guests of all ages, just remember to book your spot in advance.

9) Ottawa's Best Splash Pads: There seems to be more and more splash pads popping up all over Ottawa every summer. They're a great way to cool down and enjoy the warm summer weather. If your kids love splash pads, bookmark this list  for next summer!

8) The New Millennium Park: The City of Ottawa has made major upgrades to the Millennium park in Ottawa's East end, including an awesome new splash pad. The two main play structures are still a big hit, and the trees are slowly growing to create some shade. A brand new shelter helps, as well as the ability to run to the water for a cool down - perfect for scorching summer days. 

7) Exploring the Outaouais with kids: Eco Odysee: Ottawa loves to explore the greater Ottawa area in the summer, and Eco-Odysée is a gem! Beautiful scenery, boats, maps, clues, and puzzle solving! It can't get much better for kids who love outdoor adventure and mystery! 

6) The Children's Museum: The Children's Museum at The Museum of History is a favourite indoor spot for children any time of year. The museum is great because there is a lot of hands-on stuff for kids to do, and they can enjoy it at so many ages.

5) 150 things to do and see in the Ottawa region for Canada's 150th Birthday: As the NY Times mentioned, there's always something to see, do or explore in Canada's Capital and 2017 was no exception! Between La Machine, MosaïCanada and Canada Day there were many exciting things to see and do this past year (and next year too!)

4) Ottawa's Top 10 Family-Friendly Neighbourhoods: Every year one of our most popular searches is on popular neighbourhoods in Ottawa. So this year, with the help of some of our readers, we wrote a post on Ottawa's top 10 family-friendly-neighbourhoods. Parks, amenities, schools and more - read what makes an Ottawa neighbourhood family-friendly.

3) The Holidays in Ottawa: 25 things to do under $25: If you're off during the holidays it can be a challenge to find activities for the family that don't cost a lot of money. Misty compiled a great list based on families of four, but of course many of the activities will accommodate larger families without too much of an additional cost! 

2) Giver’s 150 Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay: This past spring TVO aired episodes of Giver about building one of the largest playgrounds in Canada located at Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa. Among many other things, Canada’s playground at Mooney's Bay features a lighthouse slide, orca shaped monkey bars, a ship that rocks back and forth as you move, a log cabin, a canoe-shaped teeter totter as well as a multitude of play structures, each symbolizing something that kids can identify with for each area of Canada.

1) 50 things to do with kids in Ottawa:  Our readers love this post! As parents, we know how important it is to find things kids will love to do - regardless of the time of year. So, we put together the ultimate list with loads of ideas! From museums, indoor activities, outdoor activities and parks - there's always something to do in Ottawa, no matter the season!

Our readers love posts about things to do in Ottawa! Let us know what you want to read on KITC in 2018! Leave a comment and let us know!

It's summertime! Let's all stay safe when swimming

Over Victoria Day weekend, my family had an impromptu invite to go to a friend's cottage by the lake. So, I packed up the car, threw Brandon in and we escaped! (Kidding...we gave my dear husband a chance to get caught up on tons of stuff he wanted to do.)

Today, my friend texted me this picture that was taken on our trip to the cottage and I uploaded it to Instagram because Brandon was so cute concentrating on swimming. It prompted the following conversation:

My little chat with Alison got me thinking, though. Swim safety is so important to prevent anyone from having an incident in the water, but it's particularly important for children who are naturally the most vulnerable. According to the Lifesaving Society's 2011 report [PDF, 1.9MB], approximately 500 people die each year in Canada from drowning, and most are swimming when they get into trouble.

Get the proper equipment for water activities, starting with a good lifejacket for weak or non-swimmers and any child under 5.

Having a cute swimsuit is fun, but a functional life-saving device, a.k.a, lifejacket, is more important. Anytime he was by the lake, Brandon had to be wearing his life jacket. He floated out beyond where his feet could touch the bottom numerous times, thinking it was a fun game when our host pushed him back to shore with the dinghy. If he hadn't been wearing a good lifejacket, that "game" wouldn't have been fun at all.

I also consulted the Lifesaving Society's drowning and water safety guidelines and here's what they had to say for children:

  • Restrict and control access to the water. Enclose backyard pools on all four sides with a fence and a self-latching, self-closing gate; drain bathtubs when not in use; empty unattended wading pools and buckets.
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating. Toddlers should wear a lifejacket anytime they are near water.
  • Stay within arms’ reach of young children when they are near water – in the backyard, the beach and in the bathroom.
  • Go to lifeguard-supervised beaches and pools.
  • Learn to swim. Enroll children in swimming lessons and in a swimming survival program such as the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to Survive.
  • In the winter, check ice before going out on it – clear, hard, new ice is the safest for travel. Avoid slushy or moving ice and ice that has thawed and refrozen.

HA! That last one just amuses me at this time of year, but it's serious business in the spring and fall.

BONUS! Don't forget to pack the sunscreen and drink lots of water.

I do not tan - never have, never will - and my son has inherited my pale genes, but even if you do tan, it's not safe to stay in the sun for prolonged periods without some protection. Trust me - after a sunburn that blistered (badly) when I was twelve and forgot my sunscreen for a canoe trip, I do everything I can to avoid getting burnt.

These recent hot, hot, hot days are great if you like the heat, but don't bask in it too long without staying hydrated.

What other rules do you have for water safety in your family?


Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping business use social media more effectively. Lately, she’s also busy planning a little conference and doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive.

Review: Melissa and Doug Reusable Stickers

by Karen About a week before Brandon's birthday, I came across the Melissa and Doug reusable sticker book with various scenes for kids to fill in with plants, animals and objects. I completely missed the "reusable" on the cover when I bought it, though I'm not sure how:

As often sometimes happens, I forgot all about the stickers. They were "hidden" in the back of our car. So, Brandon's birthday came and went and the stickers remained in the car until one day a week or two later that he found them. He was excited and so were we. DISTRACTION! :)

Just think of all the laundry I can do if he's busy playing with the sticker book! (I had started with our bedding, apparently.)

All of the scenes are very appealing - farm, ocean, desert, etc. What child doesn't enjoy the immense variety of animals associated with those things?

Not to mention the animals are simple, cute and colourful. Because they're a sticky vinyl-ish substance, they don't tear easily like paper stickers and they're pretty easy for small, not-so-nimble fingers to pull off. Bonus!

Of course, it's equally fun when they get to share the fun with dad (or mom).

What are some activities you enjoy doing to spur your child(ren)'s imagination?

Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping business use social media more effectively. Lately, she's also busy planning a little conference and doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive.

Question of the month: Summer Activities

All this warm, warm weather we've been having has us thinking about summer activities. There will undoubtedly be a steady stream of BBQs, birthday parties, playdates and other typical activities to keep us all busy through the summer months. What are some of your family's summer traditions?

Do you have any special plans for the summer? Camp? Museums? Events?

Flashback : Victoria Day Festival

Here's a great post by Sara about the Victoria Festival from a couple of years ago. I'd never heard of this festival until she first wrote about it! Don't miss out on the Victoria Day Festival which runs from May 11 - 21. We haven't been this year so all the descriptions may not be exactly accurate for what they've got going on this year. ~Lara by Sara

The Victoria Day Festival is the perfect opportunity to combine kid-friendly fun with tulip gazing at Dow's Lake.  The Festival runs from May 13th to May 24th and culminates with a fireworks show on the final evening.  The festival is being held at Queen Juliana Park (corner of Carling and Preston), which is across the road from Commissioner's Park on Dow's Lake.

On the weekends there is a charity breakfast from 7 am to 11 am and all proceeds are donated to CHEO.  The festival opens weekdays at 4 pm and free parking is available (evenings and weekends) at the Sir John Carling building across the road as well as the Dow's Lake NCC parking lot and Dow's Lake Court parking lot (intersection of Champagne and Carling)

We arrived just as the midway opened at 11 o'clock and took advantage of our early start: the boys were oftentimes the only kids on the rides.  The rides are best suited to preschool and elementary children, with only two stomach-churning spinning contraptions on site.  There is a 7 metre high Ferris wheel, which gives you a birds-eye view of Dow's lake and the tulips and several midway games where you can test your hand-eye coordination (for the record, mine is sadly lacking).  My boys especially enjoyed all the vehicle midway rides and took turns driving a fire truck and big rig.  I was greatly appreciative of the seatbelts on every ride, which kept my almost two year old in his seat.

There is a small petting zoo and pony rides at the back of the park, where a very loud turkey is currently in residence.  While we were admiring the sheep, we were treated to a show by the three ducks, who took turns bathing themselves in the water trough.  Even my animal-phobic four year old peered through the fence to check out the action.  Along with balloon animals and concession stands, there is live music everyday starting at 12 pm.

The festival gave the boys a chance to burn off their energy before we ambled through the tulips in Commissioner's Park.  I wasn't expecting so many tulips to still be in bloom and was pleasantly surprised that there were still so many flowers to admire.  The boys enjoyed running along the pathways and through the park and took turns (gently) smelling some of the flowers.

Summer is scheduled to make a return this week so I encourage you to get out and enjoy both the Victoria Day Festival and Tulip Festival before both events end on the 21st.

Sara is mom to a 6-year-old firefighter and 4-year-old monkey.  You can find her at her blog, My Points of View