When the topics of COVID-19 and parenting collide, there’s almost always a wide range of opinions expressed. However, there’s one aspect that we think all Ontario parents can agree on: This is not how we wanted to spend spring break 2021.
This week’s announcement from the Ford government about the now active “Stay-at-Home Order” Has resulted in the changing of countless plans and left families wondering what exactly they can and can’t do next week.
SavvyMom.ca is here to provide some clarity and hopefully some inspiration that will help to make this spring break at least a little bit fun.
What Can’t You Do
Let’s start with the bad news: The shutdown has meant that special events, including the Dinos & Friends drive-through (originally scheduled to take place at the CNE grounds) aren’t happening, at least not next week. And of course, all indoor attractions, including semi-outdoor attractions like the Toronto Zoo, are closed.
Also closed are day camps, daycares for school-aged kids, including those offered by the City of Toronto. In-home babysitters and nannies are allowed. But indoor social gatherings aren’t, and outdoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of five people, all of whom are supposed to be physically distanced from each other.
Residents are not supposed to leave their homes, unless for one of the roughly 30 essential reasons, and that means that trips outside of the city are a no-go.
How To Spend Spring Break 2021
Just because animatronic dinosaurs and visits to local farms are no longer an option, doesn’t mean that this spring break has to be a total bust. Below we round up a few ways your family can still have a fun time next week. Just note that while all of our suggestions are accessible and allowed at the time of publication, we do recommend that you take a quick look at local news before you head out the door, just in case there’s a last-minute change in the rules and recommendations.
City of Toronto’s Virtual Spring Break Programming, Online
True, it’s no in-person camp experience but the City’s virtual spring break programming will at least break up your kid’s day. Ten different themes are available, including Create Your Own Book, Music Making and Self-Care Techniques. Each program runs for an hour and costs just $6. Spots are booking up quickly so if this is something that might interest your child, dig out those parks and recreation family and client numbers.
Hike Toronto’s Ravines
Depending on where you live, it’s easy to forget that Toronto is home to over 150 ravines. Exploring these wild spaces is a great way to get exercise, expose your family to nature and get your kids to burn off some energy while keeping a good distance from other hikers. While the City of Toronto does list details about the ravine system, be sure to also check out BlogTO’s roundup of the city’s 15 best ravines.
Explore Ontario Place Parks and Trails, 955 Lake Shore Blvd W
Now’s a great time to check out Ontario’s Park Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail. The 7.5 acres of green space offers plenty of room for families to run and play. Ontario Place usually offers parking and there are on-site washrooms available. Just be sure to pack snacks and drinks as the on-site restaurant isn’t currently open.
Ontario’s Legislative Building’s Kids Corner Live, Online
Kids age 6 to 12 who are curious about why we’re in a shutdown may enjoy this virtual experience that teaches them a bit about how our provincial government works. In addition to learning about how laws come to be in Ontario, attendees will, “participate in a debate, games and much more.” While this one-hour event is free, advanced registration, as well as the use of Microsoft Teams, is required.
Playgrounds, All over Toronto
You’ve probably spent a lot of time at your local playground this past year. Shake things up by checking out our list of some of our favourite kid-focused parks and use it to select a new spot to visit and then choose a restaurant you’ve never tried in the neighbourhood to take home lunch or dinner.
Spring Into Art, Online
The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Opera Company and the Vancouver Art Gallery are teaming up to present five afternoons of virtual, arts-focused programming for kids of all ages. There will be behind-the-scenes tours, live performances and artmaking using “simple material lists.” All sessions run from 2pm-5pm, are free and don’t require advance registration.
Spring Into Shoes, Online
The Bata Shoe Museum is also getting into the virtual camp game with its offering of five days of online programming for kids. Each day has a different theme, such as ballet, recycling, and bingo. While some days require advanced registration, other events are drop-in style, making this a good option for days when your outdoor plans get rained out.
Virtual Tours of Ripley’s Aquarium, Online
While you might not be able to visit Ripley’s Aquarium in-person, you can treat your family to a private, virtual tour. Each tour, which costs $30 to book, features an online visit to two, pre-selected galleries (and yes, the shark-packed Dangerous Lagoon is one of those options) and includes a live Q and A with a member of the Ripley team.