I was at Wheeler Park on Monday and got to chatting with a lovely lady there with her adorable 2-year-old grandson. Once she learned about this site, the lady asked me a great question: What is there to do with kids after 5 p.m. that can help tire them out for bedtime?
She told me she watches her grandson a couple nights a week while her daughter takes college classes. She and her grandson are regular park-goers, but with the days getting shorter and colder, she's looking for some new options.
I gotta admit, the question stumped me at first. But now I've gathered my thoughts, here's my list of "Five Great ... Things to Do With Kids After 5 p.m." And I thank my newest reader for the inspiration!
2. READ: Nearly all the local libraries have regular drop-in storytimes for families in the evening. Most have at least a small play area for kids, too.
3. JUMP & TUMBLE: Most of the open gyms for little ones are during the day, with the "senior" open gyms for school-age children offered later in the evening. Spring Hill Gymnastics in Elgin has an all-ages open gym that starts at 7 p.m. on Fridays and last til 8:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 4 p.m to 5:30 p.m. Also, Jump Zone in St. Charles has open play sessions on most Fridays that end at 8 p.m., and some Saturdays at 6 p.m.
4. PLAY: Two indoor play spots in Wheaton offer later hours on certain nights of the week. They are Little Monkey Bizness (open til 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Fridays and til 6 p.m.. the other weeknights) and Kids Town (open til 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and til 7 p.m. on Wednesday.)
5. EAT: Well, you could use the Go West Kids Eat Free Guide to find a spot easier on your wallet, but that probably won't give you the kind of activity the grandmother of the 2-year-old boy was looking for. What I'm thinking about is inviting another family with similarly-aged kids over to your house for dinner and an evening playdate. I did this several times last winter with friends, usually when our husbands were out of town on business or working late. The kids got to play and have fun, the moms got to catch up, and if you're lucky, they'll invite you over to their house for a dinner playdate soon to reciprocate.
Go West Readers: How do you make sure your kids get some activity late in the day when it's too dark or cold to play outside?