Oklahoma City family fun is all about warm weather traditions.
Picnics and outdoor play are the featured activities for late spring/early summer memories. I wrote recently about feeling ready for the sunshine this year and the awesome summers I loved as a kid, complete with park swings and picnic tables.
Eating outside is something my family and I look forward to each year. If you're looking for a picnic spot, click here for our list of Best Places to Have a Picnic in the OKC Metro.
Patio dining makes a return on sunny afternoons. Warm weather gives everyone a chance to head outdoors, whether it's to grill, picnic or just send your kids outside to enjoy that drippy Popsicle on that patio. It somehow feels like less to clean up even if we're just shifting the usual mealtime chaos out-of-doors.
"Picnics are the best because you clean up your trash but it’s not as much cleaning as when you eat inside, less crumbs, and you can go play right away," says my oldest son, Sam, age 9.
MetroFamily's editor, Hannah Schmitt, is in charge of great ideas. One of her latest is the beginning of a kid review series featured occasionally on MetroFamily's website. Sam offers his take on visiting Hafer Park in an article coming this May.
I recently took Sam and his brothers, ages 4 and 1, on a picnic at the park. The reality of wrangling three small children through mud, grass and sandy sandwiches is less idyllic than my own summer memories, but that's part of the deal when you're the parent.
A little planning just might mean you have as much fun as your kids do. Here are five tips to simplify picnic prep:
- Adjust expectations: My ideal picnic looks like an episode of "Masterpiece Theater." A freshly-pressed gingham tablecloth, sparkling lemonade, a wicker basket and strawberries eaten with tiny salad forks laid out on a pastoral landscape come to mind. This is not that. I'm sure picnics for grown-ups could be Instagrammed with a kind of scenic beauty all their own but you're having a picnic for fun and function, not anything frilly. If you can make that work, more power to you, but we're doing good to keep everyone happy and fed at our family picnics. Knowing that cuts down on disappointment, which would be yours alone in any case, as I really doubt most kids are interested in trying to recreate a scene from PBS's "Grantchester."
- Skip the basket: A washable tote bag is the way to go! Choose one large enough to hold everything you're taking to avoid struggling with multiple bags. Unless you're planning to stay for hours, leave the cooler at home too. They're heavy and a hassle.
- Avoid foods that melt: I made the mistake of packing chocolate bars. It was a cloudy day but still warm. Each kid got a Kit-Kat. The result? Melted Kit-Kats, smudged faces and no way to wash little hands. I would leave the chocolate at home, along with other foods prone to melting.
- Pack supplies: My can't-picnic-without list is a plastic tablecloth, a roll of paper towels, a package of baby wipes and a plastic sack for trash. Picnic tables in the park are never super clean; the plastic tablecloth is basically a layer between you and everything else. Kids tend to put their food down right on the table and that has never bothered me so much as when I'm pretty sure the table has dirt and bird droppings. Paper towels and wipes constantly come in handy and I've never regretted having them with me. A plastic trash sack helps you keep everything together so you don't have to run to the park trash can constantly.
- Keep flies at bay: There are no flies at my ideal picnic either (see above) but the reality is that almost all picnics are going to attract them. Sacrifice one piece of bread or slice of fruit and toss it about a foot away from your table. They'll cluster around that and be more likely to leave your lunch alone.
Have more picnic tips to share? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.