Tips for affordable family fun from The Go To Gals
It was the holiday season, and Teresa Mendel’s to-do list could fill a book the size of “War and Peace.”
“I was planning a party for my husband’s company, on top of the usual chores and the extra holiday tasks,” she says. “I was delivering cupcakes to my daughter’s class when I thought, ‘I need help.’ ”
Then the entrepreneurial bug bit her.
She and Jill Fishman make up The Go To Gals, a personal assistant and concierge service that covers the Denver area.
They help families with everything from making travel plans and planning parties to coming up with the best ways to entertain children. Mendel, who has two young children, has put a lot of research into ensuring that Colorado kids are active and happy.
“I figured if I needed help, there were a whole lot of busy parents out there who also did,” she says.
So we asked the planning pro for the best ways to keep your kids entertained during spring break. While The Go To Gals will happily plan a tropical vacation for you, they recognize that times are still a little tough for many families. So here are their suggestions for inexpensive activities for the week.
Q: After a day at home, your kids are bouncing off the walls. What do you do?
A: Let them bounce off the walls. Jump-Street Family Fun Center will allow the kids to bounce both on the floor and off the walls. With locations in Littleton, Thornton and Greenwood Village, you’ll be able to choose from several spots to take those kids. It will wear them out.
Q: What are some of your favorite classic spots to visit with kids?
A: The classics, of course, for kids from tots to teen are places like the Denver Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Denver, the Denver Art Museum, the Aquarium in Denver, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (dmns.org) and smaller places like the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. These are places most people familiar with the area recognize, but it’s never a bad idea to remind them that there are discounts, and free days here and there.
Q: Let’s be a little more adventurous. Say you have a few days and want to get a bit away from the city. Suggestions?
A: The Royal Gorge Railroad is good for kids of all ages. The scenery is beautiful. It’s just one of my favorites.
Q: OK, so you actually have to work at least part of the week. What then?
A: Swap with other parents. Plan pizza nights, and let them make their own pizzas. Have scavenger hunts in nearby parks. For parents who are new to town, go online and look up parents groups. It’s good to talk with other parents and discuss concerns, share information.
Q: How about anything a little out of the ordinary to do with the kids?
A: Cooking schools offer classes for kids of all ages. The Kitchen Table Cooking School, for instance, offers classes during spring break.
Here’s a fun one: The Denver Dumb Friends League (ddfl.org) offers spring-break camps, so children can learn more about caring for cats and dogs. They also offer career camps for older children.
Look into entertainment like the “Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley,” playing through April 10 at the Arvada Center. It’s inexpensive and great entertainment for kids.
Or start a garden with your kids. Go to a local nursery, and buy seedling starters. Help your kids care for them. They’ll love it.
Q: We had a massive snowstorm in March many years back. So what if you’re stuck inside for a few days with the kids?
A: Then you’re lucky. It’s pajama day at home. With Netflix, you don’t even need to go out. Those days are awesome because everyone has a day off that wasn’t planned. So many kids are overscheduled with school. Families need some time to bond together and decompress. It builds confidence in the family. Pull out the board games. The families that play together stay together.
-By Maria Cote