by Bethany Proffitt
One of my first Spring Breaks home with my boys enjoying a week off of school (I taught at their preschool), I made a rookie mistake. My husband was out of the country for the week and we were stuck at home due to cold and rain. Until Friday. That Friday was beautiful, sunny with a high of 80! So, we took our spring fever on what was our maiden voyage to the Tulsa Zoo. Unfortunately, we hadn’t been the only ones with this idea. I couldn’t navigate my double stroller down the pathways because of the crowds. I heard someone say that there were over 15,000 people in the zoo that day, which is about 14,500 too many for my liking. I swore I would never go to the zoo during Spring Break again because it was such a, well, a zoo.
I’ve been through a few Spring Breaks with my kids now and I have learned a few things. Going anywhere with four kids is stressful. Going places that are extremely crowded with four kids is often prohibitively stressful. While my initial desire, those first few years, was to avoid crowds, I have learned to embrace them, within reason, for about 50% of the time. I have found that the kids and I all do better with some balance. We can’t stay home every day for a week without going stir-crazy and we can’t go out on big exciting adventures every single day either.
Here is my tentative plan for my family this Spring Break. Each day is totally flexible and depending on the weather and the needs of our family, we will juggle these days around.
Day 1: Tulsa Zoo
After swearing off the zoo during Spring Break for a few years, I learned some things. If the weather is good all week, the crowds will be dispersed over all of the days of the break and not concentrated on one day as I experienced that first time. It is a good idea to go early and literally beat the crowds. The zoo opens at 9:00 so get there as close to 9:00 as possible. We pack our lunch most of the time, or at least a snack and a drink. Bring all of your gear, diaper bags, lunch boxes, etc. I always like having options for carrying my littlest ones. For example, I bring my Ergo carrier even though I have a stroller just in case the baby gets tired of one or the other. I bring a little stroller for my older toddlers just in case their little legs get tired of walking. When we first arrive, we hop on the train and ride to the back of the zoo; it is least crowded back there in the morning, and we walk forward. We might look at the birds and the lions and giraffes then stop for lunch at the playground before walking through the rain-forest building and the petting zoo. Then we pretty much hightail it to the car because one or four of us are melting down.
The Tulsa Zoo: Hours – 9:00 to 5:00; Admission: Annual Family Memberships start at $75 or $10 for adults and $6 for children 3-11 while 2 and under are free.
Day 2: Slow Morning at Home/Lunch Picnic at a Park
After all of that fun at the zoo yesterday, we need a break. This will be a nice slow morning at home. I’ll make pancakes and let the kids watch a couple of shows before encouraging them to play around the house. After chores are caught up, I’ll pack a picnic basket and we will head to a park. Either a bigger one that we don’t go to very often, or one that is close to my husband’s office so he can join us. We used to go to LaFortune Park but this year, Bentley Park in Bixby will likely be our destination. After this, the younger two will be ready for a great nap at home while the bigs continue the fun in our backyard. I do like to get some kind of special outdoor toy for them like new chalk or water guns or garden shovels.
Day 3: Tulsa Children’s Museum
The Tulsa Children’s Museum is a wonderful place to take kids. During Spring Break, expect crowds, and go as early as possible. They open at 9:30. This is a good one to plug in on a day that is cold or rainy. Make sure everyone is fed first because they don’t allow food or drink inside. We end up spending several hours when we go. They also have great camps that are a nice option for those looking for childcare for the week. After the children’s museum, consider heading over to Guthrie Green for Food Truck Wednesday.
Tulsa Children’s Museum Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:30-5, Sunday 11:30-5. Children under 2 are free while all ages 2 and up are $6. Annual Family Memberships begin at $81.39.
Day 4: This year, Thursday of Spring Break is St. Patrick’s Day.
If your kids are up for outdoor concerts, consider going to Cherry St. The street in front of Kilkenny’s is closed to traffic and there is a stage set up all day with a great line up of Irish bands. I love it when my kids have an opportunity to dance like crazy at outdoor concerts.
Day 5: We probably need another day of rest and relaxation at home!
Local libraries: we go to Helmerich Library and my kids love to play with the toys there and pick out books to read at home. This is a wonderful, free, and fun option. Go early in the week so you are stocked with books for the rest of the week.
Matinee movies: most theaters have discount tickets on Tuesdays.
Oklahoma Aquarium: My older boys don’t do very well at the Aquarium in Jenks, but it is another popular Spring Break destination for many families.
Play Dates: Host a play date or two. My kids always play better when there is a friend or two over.
I miss my kids when they are at school, and though I’m sometimes overwhelmed by all of the togetherness that breaks from school bring, I do cherish these special times and want to make the most of it.
Bethany Proffitt is the mother of four kids, two boys and two girls, and wife to Keith. They call south Tulsa home. Check out her other articles like, back to school shopping tips, the best Tulsa-area pumpkin patches, the best area splash pads, shopping carts and life lessons, and her family’s journey through a layoff.