Have you ever been scrolling on Instagram, or any social media site for that matter, and come across a family doing something together that looks oh-so-glamorous? And you wonder what family activities you should be taking your kiddos to?
So you round up the family. You pack the diaper bag. You make snacks and fill water bottles. And then you head out in the car with smiles on your faces. . .
Only to return back to the car with your hair a mess. Clothes askew. Sweat dripping down your face. Screaming kids. All of you completely and utterly exhausted. With not even one picture to fake like you guys had a good time.
I’ve been there.
And maybe I’m just a hater, but these family activities have never been fun to my family and me.
They’re overrated and seemingly all end with sticky hands and sweat dripping out of all pores of my body.
Follow along to see if you agree with me on these five family activities that look better on Instagram.
#1 The Strawberry Patch
Every May, the pictures of strawberry patches come out in full force on my Instagram feed. They’re cute. Kids adoringly picking strawberries with their little buckets, or they’re oh-so-sweetly suckling on a ripe red berry. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. Smiles are on everyone’s faces. And the caption always reads something like “A Berry Good Time.”
“Let’s go,” I said to my husband one year in mid-May. “It’ll be fun.”
My husband, a notorious hater of cheesy activities (Okay, let’s call a spade a spade — white people activities), was against it, but soon acquiesced after I pleaded with him.
On the day of the Patch adventure, I dressed my 1-year-old son in a cute little hat and outfit.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived is that I, myself, shouldn’t have worn a cute outfit. Dust was swirling around in the air from all the cars pulling into the gravel parking lot. And where was the shade? It was Memorial Day Weekend in North Carolina. It was hot as you know what.
As a family who only thrives in activities with shade, I surveyed the Patch to see daunting rows of strawberries with the sun blaring down each one.
We should have turned around and left.
But we persisted and the next hour was full of sweat dripping in my eyes and sticky strawberry juice squirting all over my face, my son’s face, our hands, our clothes, our legs, our feet, heck probably even down our pants.
My feet had that perpetual feeling of sand, dirt, and grime under my sandals. I hate that feeling. My son couldn’t manage to hold his strawberry bucket upright for a picture. My husband was grumbling about the heat.
And what on earth was I going to do with a bucket full of strawberries? We would never eat them in time before they went bad. And I was kidding myself if I thought I would make a pie with them. A pie? Me? Ha.
So yeah the Strawberry Patch was not for us, and I am proud to say I wasn’t fooled into a second year.
#2 The Field of Sunflowers
Those beautiful, bright yellow flowers are deceiving SOBs. Each year, Instagram announces to me when it’s Sunflower Season again. And each year, I’m duped into thinking it would be fun to take the family to see the sunflowers. Each year, I’m wrong.
For starters, it’s July in NC. It has gotten hotter and more humid since May, and once again there is no shade over the sunflowers because sunflowers need direct sunlight, duh. However, every year I’m shocked there is no shade. Like, can they not just manufacture some type of awning for us guests?
“Ohhh. . . I didn’t realize how hot it would be in the direct sun in summer in July in North Carolina, even though I went last year and the year before and the year before, and I was miserable. Silly me.”
Our clothes are already drenched in sweat from the walk from the car to the sunflowers. And if you aren’t wearing a flowing dress and coordinating outfits for the family why bother going at all?
Just kidding. I wasn’t fooled that much. Still, even in my running clothes, I’m pouring sweat. My son is over it after the first row of sunflowers. He’s also sticky. How on earth did he manage to get so sticky?
I still refuse to leave.
If I’ve come all this way, I need to find a way to capture a perfect picture of the sunflowers in this light with the skyline of Raleigh as the backdrop.
*Spoiler Alert — I’m unable to.
So by the time I realize I should give up, we are just wet, sticky, and my freakin’ feet are covered in dirt because I haven’t learned to just wear sneakers and not sandals.
Oh, and did I mention the numerous bees buzzing past my face, probably drawn to my sweat or possibly the little cup of ice cream I thought would be a nice touch to our family outing? Nope.
The ice cream just leaves us more sticky.
I leave the sunflowers and vow never to go there again.
#3 The Beach
Let me clarify, I like the beach and my kids like the beach. And families probably really do have a good time at the beach.
But. . .
You also have to get to the beach. And that, my friends, is a nightmare.
Taking your kids to the beach is not properly advertised. It should read like this:
Want to have a nice family outing? Take your kids to the beach! They’ll have lots of fun rolling around in the waves, building sandcastles, and doing beachy activities.
Then, there needs to be a disclaimer. . .
- Kids require a lot of things at the beach. Will the fun you have at the beach outweigh the misery of packing your car, lugging every single belonging out to the beach as your face and feet burn in the heat, your kid forgetting something on the beach and having to trek back to the car or room to retrieve said thing, repacking everything to go inside for a break, dragging it all back again for the afternoon, and then finally towing it all back at the end of day?
- Don’t forget the SAND. It will be everywhere. And it will NEVER go away. We, here at the beach, strongly suggest you consider all of this before going.
- We are also not responsible for any divorces that might result from packing and unloading whilst on your trip to visit us.
And that is why I think the beach — as a parenting activity — is overrated because sometimes it’s worth the hassle. And other times — it most definitely is not.
#4 The Amusement Parks
Amusement parks are made up of three main ingredients: 1.) Lines, 2.) Heat, 3.) Diseases.
And while my disdain for amusement parks is deeply personal, I can’t be the only one who thinks they aren’t as glamorous as they look.
And to be clear — amusement parks are not water parks because I do like water parks. Although they, too, are made up of the three main ingredients of amusements, water parks add another element to them, and that is water, which is nice in the summer heat.
Also, I’m not including Disney in this because 1.) I’ve never been with kids, so it isn’t fair to give an honest assessment, and 2.) I absolutely do not want to receive visceral from the Disney loving adults. They stan (ugh, don’t like this word but it applies) hard.
Toting kids around all day. Waiting in long lines. Spending way too much money. Eating sticky foods. Catching diseases. I don’t know. Just doesn’t seem glamorous to me.
Or maybe I just don’t want to be forced to ride a terrifying roller coaster with my kid while I wonder if I would plunge to my death.
I told you this was personal.
#5 The Pumpkin Patch (With Kids Under 2)
A kid under 2 doesn’t care about the pumpkin patch. You care about the cutesy fall picture you get at the pumpkin patch.
I know this because I did this myself. And at no times was it fun. Fun-ish. Maybe. But not fun and certainly not glamorous. Why?
For starters, all the times we went with a child under 2, we seemed to pick the weekend in October where North Carolina decided it wasn’t done with summer, so it was hot. And, once again there was no shade.
Also, let me list all the family activities kids under 2 can do at a pumpkin patch. . .
There are basically none. I highly suggest going to Wal-Mart, buying a pumpkin, putting the pumpkins in your yard to get the classic pic, and then heading to a brewery to drink pumpkin beer, cider, whatever.
Okay, that’s the list. I was being a little facetious on some of these, but don’t let Instagram fool you into thinking these family activities are glamorous and if you don’t do them you are depriving your kids of lifelong cultural experiences.
At best, you’ll leave with a decent picture and some sour moods.