DFW Camp Expo

Making The Grade This Summer(and earn cool mom status)

swimming pool

Are your kids making the grade this summer? School’s out for…. Summer already!? It seems we were shopping for supplies and new clothes not too long ago. I remember my siblings visiting when I was younger over summer breaks, and we would have the best time. We would go fishing, on vacations, and to the park. My older brother would watch me daily and never let me miss my chocolate pudding snack. As a the baby of four, I would always look forward to this time. I soaked up family time and always having someone to play with and talk to. I would always dream of what it would be like for my own kid’s as I grew older. Would they have the same bond? Would they always look out for each other and have the best memories together?

My Kids are different and that is okay

If you’re wondering, it isn’t anything like what I had and that’s okay. It often times feels like I have my very own WWE matches right in the living room. If I had a dollar for every eye roll, I would be rich! When my son was a baby, my daughter loved to help feed, bathe, and dress him. She couldn’t wait for him to walk, and we all told her she would regret saying that. I would pray for her to still have the same love for him as he grew, but as he grew into a boy, she outgrew him.

He wanted to be everywhere she was and do everything “sissy” did. He was into her stuff and soon lost his playmate. I would often become upset and would wish summer would go away. It was no longer fun for the both of us because of the sibling fights and running out of “fun places”. I never used google for much researching but often relied on social media. Most of the places were far from us or too expensive. I was still a stay-at-home mom with one income so I oftentimes had to be creative in what we would be able to do. Both didn’t seem to care for water activities, so we wouldn’t go to pools or water parks/splash pads.

Making the grade this summer by having educational outings like Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium in allen

Surviving staying at home

For 8 years I was a stay-at-home mom who always had a plan for summer for my kids. We would always make summer work, despite one income. Now summer becomes more difficult to keep them busy and not bored. My oldest is 10 and on the verge of tween years, oh who am I kidding, we are already there! She wants to do all the “older” kid stuff while my son would be happy with a kiddie pool!

I try to start planning summer early because I do work full time. When I first told my kid’s I was going back to work my DD’s first thought was, “What about Summer, I don’t want to stay home”. That is when panic mode ensued. All I could think about was my mother-in-law, whom will be keeping them this summer by herself. We had such a fun time last Summer while I was home, and we were able to explore many new places. The saying goes, it takes a village and that is so true. I had so much help when we would go places that I could enjoy the day without worrying.

Summer 2021 topped the list of best summers. Every place was operating at full capacity and after COVID, we weren’t sure if that would be possible. I felt covid took a lot away from everyone and now we can feel a sense of normal again. Being able to experience places that closed for a while was such a blessing for this worrisome mama! Summer is coming in hot, and I know all kids’ have been looking forward to water activities since October! Water parks and swimming pools are starting to open back up and can cause you to splurge and leave no room for more fun! Keep reading for local summer hot spots!

First up is Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium in Allen, home to the 2nd safest city in Texas. What is a natatorium? That would be a fancy word for indoor swimming pool! 🙂 Yes, I am that mom who googles words and “fun places for hard to please, I mean darling kids”.

Don Rodenbaugh is home to an indoor, year-round aquatic facility. Great for the casual and professional swimmer. Inside you will find they have an indoor pool as well as a competition pool, lazy river, and hot tub (for adults only:)). This indoor hot spot is both relaxing and fun for all ages. They provide lifejackets, which is a plus. Parents can feel at ease while your children play because lifeguards are all around.

You also avoid the sun rays and sunburns. Put the sunscreen away mom! Swimming not your thing? Give the upstairs gym facility a try! With windows all around overlooking the pool, you can get a great workout in as well as watch the kids have a blast! They have memberships available as well as affordable daily rates. They offer clean and spacious bathrooms and changing rooms as well as a clothes wringer! This is lifesaver, especially if you stop for a cold treat on the way home! Don’t worry about soaking wet clothes in the backseat!

Another fun place we have recently found is in Mckinney. The apex centre is beautiful and offers several slides to meet your “thrill” needs! Featuring a lazy river, a Texas sized, fun shaped outdoor pool, and a kid’s pool! That’s the outdoor amenities! Take a walk inside and you will find an indoor pool and some more cool slides! You can swim laps as well in the competition pool. There are lifeguards all around here as well to give a sense of safety. Need to cool off? Kona Ice is on site to handle all your cool needs! Apex centre offers affordable day passes as well as memberships. They also offer fitness classes in their state-of-the-art gym. Plano in the house!

Plano has many fun pools to offer but one of my favorites is Jack Carter Pool. They offer a body slide, concessions, deep water pool, lowrider surf simulator as well as a lazy river, and a tot pool. One of the newer places we have discovered and it’s a favorite! If you have a Plano parks and recreation membership, admissions included!

A short hour away from there is Rowlett, home to Wet Zone! Last summer was our first time to visit and it was awesome! Prices are affordable and they offer specials and discounts! You can get a season pass or a day pass. They have great slides, fun for the kids, and private cabanas you can rent where you can cool off in and have some shade.

Wet zone is one of the bigger water parks we visit and enjoy but they do stay busy! There is plenty of room to swim and have fun while keeping up with the kiddos! I like that they have outdoor tables under shade to enjoy a cold drink or snack. While we’re on the topic of water parks, have you heard of splash kingdom? You can buy season passes or daily admission as well as drinks and food. They have many fun slides and all with unique and fun names! There are many slides to choose from that fit your thrill needs! Don’t forget to visit the wave pool, which is huge and relaxing! Cool off in the lazy river or take a dip with the kids in the kid’s area where they can splash around. Rent a cabana for a couple hours and cool off with a good book!
Worried about keeping the little ones entertained? Make them feel included by visiting splash pads. Our new favorite is in Fate, at the Robert Smith Family Splash Park. This park is newer, and they have a park as well as an outdoor workout area. Enjoy the walking trails after playing in the water! They have many fun activities to keep the little ones busy and entertained. They have slides, bucket drops of water, and different fun things to climb on. Enjoy the tables under the shade for a picnic as well!
Let’s take a trip to Dallas to Klyde Warren Park where there are all the things to do! Bring your dog along too for fun at the dog park! There is so much to see here. They are adding onto their children’s section and by the pictures, it will not disappoint! They are adding a climbing tower and slide, new balance and spinning elements, and a climbing wall! New water features and updating bathrooms. There is over 5 acres at Klyde Warren to enjoy. Bring a blanket, and a good book. I know I could stay here for hours! Want to get in a quick fitness class? You can here, for free! Join in on boot camps, yoga, and even ballroom dancing. Throughout the year there are many events taking place and you can view on their website!

There are many fun and educating places to visit this summer! Most do not even cost! A simple day at the park with a picnic lunch is great! Visit your local library and see what different events are going on. Our local library has a summer read where kids can earn cool prizes for completing the reading list!

Six flags is also a good summer spot! There are so many rides to choose from and a different thrill every-time! Enjoy the water rides, especially after walking around all day in the scorching heat.

There are also many walking trails to get you moving! Bring your bikes, skates, or scooters! Also bring plenty of sunscreen and water! One of our favorite walking trails is in Farmersville called Chapparal Trail. This trail starts at the onion shed and is a great trail. It is 5 miles long and at the end, you’re in Bland Tx! There are mile markers and benches along the way if you need to take a break.

Downtown Farmersville is also a neat place to visit. Find something great at the small shops, enjoy the food, and Hibbitt’s ice cream, which serves the best ice cream I’ve ever had! They have a great variety of flavors, sizes, and even adult ice cream! Farmersville is a hidden gem and is becoming more popular for families. During Christmas time they have carriage rides through the beautiful lights of downtown. Including movie nights and visits with Santa. We have gone for the past 5 years and always enjoy a fun family night.

Do you love animals? How about feeding them from your vehicle and enjoying scenery? Our area has many great places to visit and all within a 2-hour drive. One of our new favorites is North Texas Safari in Bonham. They have a small drive thru zoo and an interactive area with sloths, kangaroos, and llamas. All the animals are friendly and interactive. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop for a souvenir! Rocky ridge safari in Eustace is also a favorite. This one is bigger and mostly a drive thru feeding with plenty of animals to feed and see. With so many families coming through, you would think the animals would not still want to eat more, but they are! The giraffes will stick their neck in your car! Some of the other animals get *very* up close and personal so be careful or you may get a lick!
I am always looking for ways to stay within our budget and keep them busy and having fun without hearing the dreaded “bored” word! There are days that we stay home and enjoy each other and play games as well. We like a balance. We love exploring new places and writing down memorable places to share with other families. You may need new ideas and places to visit and keep the cool mom status this summer!

Brittany Batten local Mom