A Toddler paradise - Constance Bay Beach

by Pam Wheeeee - summer is here (has been for a while, it seems, but, you know...officially)!!!

As a mom of toddler twins (one of which isn't even walking yet), I am always on the lookout for great fun options for outdoor play, especially ones that are safe (well, as safe as possible) for them.

Enter an outdoor oasis a mere 15-20 minute drive from our front door in Kanata - Constance Bay. I mean, I KNEW there was a beach there, and I also recalled that it was shallow, but it wasn't until a veteran mommy friend of mine invited us to join them so that we got to experience it.

How much fun did we have? No crying. At all. All morning long right up until after their normal naptime. Sitting and splashing. Walking and splashing. Eating and splashing. Splashing and splashing. With lots of sand everywhere, and water that as far as I could tell was under my knee height. It was fantastic, and there was no need to strap the girls into bulky life jackets. They were happy little clams.o go that it occurred to me...this might be a fabulous place for an unpredictable, non-swimming, fickle toddler...or two.

A couple other notes:

  • There is no one in the parking lot at 9:30 am on a Friday (we parked by Point Lounge at 346 Bayview Drive - easy to Google and get to).
  • Meeting up with other veteran Mommies means you learn tips and tricks.
  • For instance, take one of those portable umbrellas and set it up right in the water - shade for the mini-splash contingent!
  • Eat your snack or lunch right in the water - chances are that what you brought your toddler are things that can be eaten by hand, so why struggle with sandy hands, feet, and ultimately food?
  • And finally, when leaving, take your messy sandy toddler deeper into the water, undress them in the water, rinse off completely and walk them straight to the car to put on the fresh diaper and clothes. Worked brilliantly. Also meant that it was straight into bed for naptime when we got home.

What fabulous local 'getaways' do you know? What ages are they perfect for? Share!!!

Pam (@paminottawa)/http://paminottawa.wordpress.com/) is mom to twin toddlers Alexandra and Hailey, trying to rid herself of her mommy tummy, and is also a strategic social media communicator with the government on the side.  She is also newly able to change poopy diapers again after 6 months in cast with a broken arm. All things important in perspective.


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A Little Recreation Time

by Amy I recently quit my job and bought a house. These two moves meant that I have been at home looking for activities for the kid and me in our new neighbourhood.

There's a park close to the house and a few things around, and we've been going swimming at the Kanata Wave Pool. My kid was born to be in the water, it's something she's always loved, but at Kanata I found that the slope of the pool was good for her but hard on my knees. So I took to the city website and tried to find another pool close by, and that is how we happened upon the Goulbourn Recreation Centre and their fantastic pool.

The centre is in Stittsville, just off Hazeldean and about a five minute drive from our new house. The pool is built for all ages. There is a shallow area for younger kids, with a palm tree that rains on you and another contraption that shoots water out at all angles. This shallow area leads into the wide open part of the pool for older kids (and, when you attend the preschool swim, an aquafit class). There is also a great big water slide, but the kid is still a bit young for that.

My husband and I took the kid to the pool on Sunday afternoon and it was pretty busy, but there seemed to be room for everyone. On Thursday I took the kid to the preschool swim and we only had to share the pool with the aquafit class and a few other moms with their toddlers.(The preschool swim is one of the best things I've discovered since taking on my new role).

The Goulbourn Rec Centre is a wonderful addition to our lives and I'm looking forward to enrolling the kid in some of the classes there in the fall.

Do you have a rec centre nearby that you're in love with?

Amy is mom to two year old Maggie and a 6 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind. She also shares a blog with her husband at boughner.ca where they talk together about parenting a daughter.

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Swimming Success!

by Amanda Y Well after that teaser week of summer in Ottawa, it has made me start itching for the real thing so we can go swimming regularly up at the cottage.  Since he was 3 (now almost 5) J has regularly been taking swimming lessons through the City of Ottawa.  The first round of lessons was really an adjustment period because he refused to participate for the most of the lessons.  He would get in the water but not cooperate with the instructor.  However, since then he has been quite happy about going, some of the tasks are hit or miss with him, he doesn't love having water in his face or ears, but over time, things have improved.  The spring session started last week and I swear, that was a totally different kid in the water!  He was dunking his head, happily floating on his back, front float has improved drastically, he will actually put his face in the water, tentatively, but he used to outright refuse!  He loves to play the games like "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" and "Red light green light" It's too bad the lessons are only 30 minutes long, I think he would benefit from a longer lesson, even another 15 minutes would be great!

The City of Ottawa's Learn to Swim Program offers the Red Cross swimming levels.  They include Parent and Me classes, Preschool classes, and School-Aged program (up to 12 yrs old).

Not only are swimming lessons fun, but swimming is also a very important skill for a child to have.  Many people have a fear of water and so having lessons in childhood can help to prevent this.  Fear leads to panic and if you panic in the water, the outcome is terrible.  Just knowing how to handle yourself in the water can prevent so many accidental drownings.  Of course, even the best swimmers can drown, and I highly promote the use of life jackets in boats and on inexperienced swimmers in deep water.  Simply knowing how to float and keep your head above water is a critical skill, in my opinion.  I am a strong swimmer, my parents insisted we take swimming lessons and I am doing the same for J.  It is also the kind of class that grows with the child.  They continue to build upon and learn new skills including rescue maneuvers and CPR.  Also something to think about:  teens who become lifeguards and swimming instructors are paid quite well.  They can work at city pools as well as summer camps earning their own money.  The benefits just keep adding up.

For information about how your teen could become a lifeguard visit the National Lifesaving Society's website.

Who knows if J will ever go that far, but what's important to me is that he learn to swim and be comfortable around water.

Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

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Daytripping – camping without the camping!

by Shawna Did you love to go camping as a kid? The day at the lake/swimming pool broken up by lunch at a brownish-red-painted picnic table under the trees, and treks along dusty, pine-scented paths to the local campground store for icy cold bottles of pop and dime freezies (that you could get by returning the bottles for the deposit)?

Now that you’re grown-up, and you know the adult hassles that come with camping – the packing of clothes for hot/cold/wet/sunny weather and water/non-water activities that may or may not involve hiking, the organizing of coolers to make sure everyone stays nourished and hydrated, the drive to and from potentially far-flung destinations, and the laundry that comes home with you, not to mention the difficulty of getting the kids (and yourself!) to sleep in an unfamiliar environment (often a tent that has to be put up and taken down at your campsite, then put up again to dry thoroughly once you’re home before being taken down again and packed away) – you may not relish the idea of camping as much, particularly when you only have a limited amount of days you can book off from work in a year. Camping can be doubly daunting when your kids are still in diapers, but are mobile and seem to lack any kind of self-preservation instinct that stops them from wandering off cliffs or straight into the lake.

If you are an intrepid soul that has no idea what I’m talking about because you think nothing of portaging your way into the middle of Algonquin park to take your triplet toddlers canoe-camping, you will likely want to skip this entry, but if you’re like me and the second paragraph sounds eerily familiar, this information may change your life: you can go to a campground for the day and not, you know, actually camp.

Just imagine it: no tents to erect, no camp dishes to haul out – you can get by with a cooler of drinks and sandwiches for one day – and you know what the weather will be like because you only need to hear the forecast for the day you go, so no packing of raingear. You tire out the kids and everyone sleeps in their own, welcoming bed at the end of the day.

A quick search of the internet has turned up a number of places with pools and/or freshwater beaches within an hour of Ottawa. Day admission fees seem to run about 10 to 12 bucks for a family of two adults and two kids, and swimming and use of casual recreation facilities are included.

For example (and these are just a few of many - check for yourself!), Sandy Mountain is only ½ hour from where I live in Barrhaven, and has both a large pool and wading pool, as well as a games room, a playground, and a place to buy ice cream. You can play horseshoes for free, or pay the extra fees to mini-putt or even full-on golf. (They don’t post prices for just the day because they don’t consider themselves to be a public pool, but they do have day rates if you ask.)

Wildwood is not much further, and I enjoyed many a weekend day in the pool there with my grandmother when I was a child (the pool there is better for older kids who can reach the bottom in the shallow end and/or swim well) though, alas, they now only allow non-campers during weekdays (Fridays only until noon) and only for 2 hour stints.  

On the July long weekend we’re meeting up with my in-laws a little further afield: Pleasure Park near Mallorytown, which has a water trampoline, a dock for swimming, and large playground.

I’m not saying you should never go on any overnight camping adventures – it’s a fantastic thing for kids to experience and worth the effort. But you don’t have to wait until that expedition to Kilimanjaro; while you’re doing all the planning for your Big Trip, you can sample the camping life with daytrips here and there. It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s easy, and it’ll make memories that last. What could be better?

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She never appreciated the work her parents had to do to take her camping until she had kids of her own.