At the beginning of each month, my husband and I sit at our kitchen table and map out our family calendar. From various sport events, school activities, family obligations, birthday parties, and weekend excursions, we often find ourselves – like many families I know –happily over scheduled.
We fill out our Google calendars that sync to our iPhones, but we also use an old-fashioned dry erase calendar in our kitchen to visually plan out our obligations. And don’t get me started on the separate sports calendars I create in word. Last Spring, my 13-year-old played in two different lacrosse leagues and my five and six-year-old played tee-ball together. Our sports calendar was a color-coded nightmare of game times, practice schedules, field directions, and team bonding events.
I like to complain, but really I love the chaos. I run my daycare from my home during the week, so I enjoy getting out of the house on weekends. I always wish I can partake in more of the family friendly events happening in the area, but I try to squeeze in what I can on the weekends.
My husband, however, is a teacher and he gets his summers off (I try not to be jealous). This summer we decided to create a Daddy and kids calendar to keep our older children occupied (other than hanging at the pool all day). We didn’t enroll them in any camps this year, because this summer they are attending Camp Daddy.
My husband and I both grew up in the Washington, DC area, so we thought the list of places to go would flow. Instead, we found ourselves hemming and hawing in front of the computer. So, instead of just revisiting the same old places, we enlisted the help of amazing local resources.
In the last couple of years, some great websites have launched to help families plan out their calendars. The work is being done for you. From finding a great kids-eat-free deal to a mommy and me cooking class or a concert in the park, these fast-growing websites are helping families like mine stay happily over scheduled without breaking a sweat.
Below is my list of favorite local resources that list outdoor activities, indoor activities, playgrounds, water parks, camps, classes, festivals, farmers markets, kid-friendly restaurants, story time hours, enrichment events, and reviews. I actually visit these sites regularly. All are locally owned, and several by Moms like me that simply started off by sitting in front of their computer hemming and hawing over what to do with their family.
(In alphabetical order)
Activity Rocket – This website allows you to search for enrichment classes and camps offered in the Washington, DC area. I love how you can search based on very detailed criteria, like Saturday mornings in Fairfax. You can also log-in and create your own calendar.
DC Metro Mom – Check out this website’s Guide section and Calendar section for links to many events and venues in the area. This site also features local bloggers offering information, reviews, and resources for everyone. Their Deals tab lists many promotions for events happening in the area.
Kid Friendly DC – Sometimes, living in the suburbs right outside Washington DC, I forget how much the city itself has to offer. People travel from around the world to visit the Nation’s Capital, so it is a shame if we don’t take advantage and introduce our children to everything it offers (and many times for free). This blog has reviews and listings of things to do with family in the city. I love the weekly round-up of ideas of things to do with the family.
NOVA Outdoors– If you are obsessed with visiting local area playgrounds, then this site is a must. It lists reviews of national, regional and local neighborhood parks in Northern Virginia. You can search by area and click on links to see pictures as well.
Our Kids– This website details information about events and venues, but it is also a great local resource for information on seasonal activities and reviews for almost everything. I love that you can go to their indoor activities section and get information on everything from paint your own pottery to bowling to indoor trains and carousels.
PWC Moms– This website is specifically for events happening in and around the Prince William County area of Northern Virginia. Their calendar is extremely detailed. I also love their event map feature. You can see on the map exactly where an event is being held. I would check out their amazing giveaways for chances to win free stuff.
Super NOVA Mommy– This calendar is intense in its listing of free or really cheap events. Every day there are more than 20 events listed. I also love the separate listing of outdoor and indoor places to visit in the area. I leaned heavily on their “Great Outdoors” page when making plans for Camp Daddy. This site also boasts amazing giveaways and deals.
Washington Family Magazine– This website has resources for families looking for everything, from entertainment companies, to doctors and dentists, to moms groups, and places to discover in the area. They are also starting a local mom review section on their site, which I am looking forward to reading.
As a disclosure, I was not solicited or paid to list any of the mentioned websites in this post. These are my real recommendations. I do, however, occasionally write for a couple of these websites.
Please visit me on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page for more local deals, event listings, and recommendations of things to do in the area.