It's almost time to bid adieu to sandy selfies by the shore, sticky ice cream stains on every shirt and the sun staying up until bedtime. But the season that follows offers a whole new slew of memories to be made. With adventures in produce-picking (apples, pears and pumpkins, oh, my!) and indoor entertainment alike, developing fun family fall traditions is a task many parents take on post-Labor Day. In addition to carving funny/spooky jack-o'-lanterns, raking up a pile of leaves for after-school jumping contests and picking up probably too many gallons of apple cider, there are plenty of activities perfect for autumn that you might not have thought of yet.
We polled moms far and wide for their top treasured traditions you can easily adopt this season.
Summertime attracts much larger culture-seeking crowds since most kids are free from busy school schedules. But feeling like a sardine in the natural history museum is nobody's idea of fun, so why not head there during the fall? There are usually a couple of solid after-school hours prime for art- or dinosaur-ogling before museums close — and honestly, we won't tell if you play hooky in the name of education.
Danielle Crouchley, mom of four, takes her kids to science exhibits and other museums in the fall so they have the most space and time to explore, ask questions and learn. And, hey, her eldest is a finalist in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge this year, so those visits must have paid off.
If you happen to be floating around the Caribbean during the hottest days of summer, you might see so many stars, you'll think glitter has just been spewed upon the sky. But in many parts of the U.S., fall actually presents a clearer, more crisp horizon view — prime for gazing up and introducing kids to astronomy. For Sujata Vemuri, mom of two, taking a moment to look up as the moon rises is a beloved autumn pastime. “We love huddling under a blanket and sipping hot chocolate. As my daughters and I take turns naming the constellations, our discussions range from space travel to life beyond earth,” she says.
Have a one-on-one date
If you’re a parent or a caregiver of more than one kid, it can easily feel like herding cats. Constantly balancing a forever-growing to-do list with relationships, career and kids’ schedules can make giving your kid a day or night of uninterrupted mom-time feel impossible. But for Lyss Stern, an author and mom of three, her goal for fall is to spend individual time with each of her children. “I take my 10-year-old son to a new Broadway show, as he loves the arts and is an aspiring actor… I'll then take my oldest son to a baseball game on the weekend, and I always go the ballet with my little ballerina, Blake,” she shares.
Shop for (& cook with) fall ingredients
Putting kids to work in the kitchen isn’t an easy task; it all depends on their level interest (or whether they're patient enough to wait for a pie to bake). But since babes can no longer be distracted by splashing in a public pool or chasing bubbles in the backyard, getting a dinner-making team together might be your best bet.
Amy Cohn, mom of two and a registered dietitian, suggests making shopping for fall produce into a scavenger hunt. It's an easy way to introduce new flavors and make things fun for kiddos with short attention spans. Since kids being back in the classroom (and on the football field or in choir rehearsal, etc.) means you don’t get quite as much QT with them as during the summer, a weekend trip to the farmers market followed by child-friendly fall recipes can make for a family activity you’ll all enjoy. Need some recipe ideas? Look no further.