Anyone who knows my husband knows that he absolutely can not be contained for long periods of time. Insert wintertime and 2 kiddos and that man has cabin fever something fierce. We have been beyond lucky with the weather this winter as it has been in the 60's and 70's on multiple days in the months of both January and February (crazy right?). Not only have we been lucky with this weather, but we live in the fabulous city of Kansas City, Missouri which has it's own zoo. And this zoo is not just any zoo, it's a pretty decent size with tons of modern updates. A season pass to this awesomely fun zoo comes at an extremely discounted rate if you are a resident of Jackson County (which we are) and lasts an entire year (which is amazing as the zoo is open year-round). If you use your pass more than twice you have already paid for the darn thing, totally worth it! So, with that being said, you can probably guess that if it is nice outside, our family loads up the Jeep and heads the 12ish minutes to our local zoo where much fun is always had. Sound like too much work? Think again! When you actually get to the zoo, there are a million ways that they have already made your life easier. Here are a few of my favorites:
*There are paths.
Simple enough right? Our toddler is "Miss Independent" lately and will only stay in the stroller if she is eating a snack. When she is not eating a snack she feels the need to walk and, despite her many promises that she will stay right beside us, she tends to wander pretty far ahead. Although we would prefer her to stay close to us, we also have a rule that she has to stay on the path as it can be dangerous to stray from it. Fortunately for us, this rule she does follow. As long as she gets her "sillys" out and doesn't put herself in to any danger, the amount of exercise she gets is so worth the quick walking needed to keep up with her.
Of course, walking overly quickly to keep up with our toddler can get a little tedious. Insert interactive activities and you catch yourself being allowed a short break prior to moving on to the next activity. Our favorite activity is inside the penguin habitat at the zoo. There is a small room near the exit of this particular building where there is a video of penguins swimming being projected on to the floor. Kiddos running around at the zoo love this as they can chase the penguins and attempt to jump on them as they float across the floor. Our toddler could stay here all day which makes for a perfect time to regroup...until it's time to leave anyway; then you most likely have a screaming toddler on your hands.
All zoos and amusement-type locations sell food as I am sure it brings great profit. However, not all of these outrageously priced food and drinks are worth it. Fortunately, at our zoo the food is pretty great and there are several fountain beverage options. Forget a snack? No problem! The main cafeteria sells cups of fruit, bags of chips, etc. You're sure to find something that suits your fancy when you're there if you are looking or at least something to tide over the toddler until you are able to feed him/ her lunch, dinner or whatever.
Although we have 2 children, baby 2 is the first one who has nursed over 5 weeks (she's 5 months now, whoop whoop!). Because she is getting older and we are spending more time out in the community, we tend to have to get creative with our locations for nursing. Sure, I have a nursing scarf and could whip out "the girls" just about anywhere, however, the baby herself is getting to be very highly distractible so finding her a private area is preferable. Good thing the zoo totally gets that! Not only do they have a private "Mother's Room", but it is equipped with a cushioned seat and built in toys on the walls for any older kiddos who might be with you. Talk about an added bonus!
*Hidden gift shop.
Oh thank the LORD for this one. Our toddler believes she is entitled to have anything and everything that she lays her eyes on even if it something that she already has (this happens a lot). A lot of times you will see stands and employees just waltzing around amusement parks and such trying to sell you anything and everything. Although there are minimal stands dispersed throughout the zoo, they are rare, have limited supplies and are not overbearing and begging you to buy from them. The best place to purchase gifts or any other little trinkets you might want is from the main gift shop. Where is the main gift shop? It's awesome as it is inside of another building where the exit is located and can totally be surpassed without the kiddos ever even knowing that it's there if you want to do to avoid the "buy me this" meltdown for the day.
Oh the zoo! It truly has changed the way that I parent.