i try to get out with mila every day (with the exception of a few lazy days here and there of course). we typically go for longer walks during the day because it's free, we don't have to find parking or navigate the subway, and we can quickly come back home to cool off or nap or whatever. seeing as i have a few weeks of mat leave left and i sort of love museums of all varieties, i have been taking mila on a little tour of toronto museums. some i have been to before and others i have always wanted to go to so i decided to take full advantage of my time off with just her and myself.
my first museum trip with mila was a little awkward because even though i was with her, i sort of felt alone. i was also a little nervous of a meltdown, or poo explosion, or some moment that i knew i couldn't control. there is something about that sweet retired couple viewing historical artifacts when all of the sudden a toddler decides to scream their face off in the middle of the room that i didn't really want any part of. the more and more i have gone, the more comfortable i feel going though. it's actually some of my most favourite mat leave moments. so for other mama's who have a few public fears like i did. i put together a little list of tips that hopefully help you out and allow you to explore more of what your city has to offer!
go to a place you want to go to: the way i see it, one day, all of our outings and activities will have a strong 'kid' focus. which i'm really excited for truly, but i doubt i'll be able to say "let's go see japanese paintings from the floating world!" and they are going to say "totally!" so for now i'm taking the opportunity to see as many places and as many exhibits that currently interest me while mila is still small enough to tote around. besides it feels like a fun way to share my interests with her and one day i hope she shares hers with me!
check the museum's website in advance to see if there is stroller accessibility: most museums we've been to have some type of stroller/wheelchair accessibility option but check in advance just in case. the ago , rom and science centre in toronto are really good at helping people with babies/kids navigate their museum! however there was a historic place we visited last january that had an elevator for wheelchairs but wouldn't allow strollers and i found that out including their reasoning (which made perfect sense) from their site. needless to say i was happy i figured that out early. by checking ahead you can have a good heads up on baby carrying options.
know the best way to get there: when you live in the city like us, transportation can be tricky and can easy tack on more time to your trip. while there is a decent public transit system here and most all major museums are on a subway stop, there are very few stops with escalators let alone elevators. and there is no way i am lugging a twenty pound stroller with a twenty pound baby up city subway steps. unless i plan to carry mila (which is proving to be difficult the bigger she gets) i typically drive. there are parking lots all over the city but some closest to the museums can charge more per half hour then one say two blocks away. i have found finding these off the beaten path lots to be the best, the cheapest, and the emptiest allowing for a seamless park and unpack start to our trip.
pack "no mess" snacks and water (depending on babes age of course): this doesn't apply for littles who aren't on solids just yet, but for those who are, i found packing snacks like dry food, bits of cheese and water to be really helpful. rice rusks, puffs, and bread are easy to store, easy to eat, and won't leave a sticky smudge on picasso's sitting lady should it be flung from little hands. dont forget food and drink for you too!
go during off peak times: this is more a consideration for you and baby in regards to other museum patrons. i personally find it less stressful knowing i can push the stroller wherever i want without having to navigate large crowds of people. i typically try to be considerate that i take up more space so often i push the stroller to side or make it a point to get out of people's way. if you go during slower times you'll have more room to go where you please and see things head on versus cramming yourself in a corner somewhere.
know you'll be a bit noisier than others and it's okay: this may seem obvious to most people with babes because this happens on a daily basis, but when you are naturally in a silent environment, chances are you mirror the same level of noise...but baby won't ever do that will they? mila chatted her way through the entire art gallery of ontario the other day, like seriously removed her pacifier just to chat and giggle. and seeing as i am her mama and her little personality kills me, i found it only necessary to chat and giggle along with her and it. was. awesome!
there you have it! hope these little tips help a bit and if there are any tips you have feel free to share them here, i would love to know them!