a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Mar, 2012

My March Break battle plan, er, Fun List of Things To Do in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|sanity saving parent tips


Here’s my problem, I don’t like crowds very much. It’s not so bad that I’ll break out in a sweat and start hyperventilating, but it comes pretty close. Sure, I’ll do it for the kids, but in my experience, the kids really don’t like being (a) packed like sardines (b) knocked around by errant purses and elbows and (c) possibly trampled.

And as we all know, if mummy’s not happy, EVERYONE SUFFERS.

Sadly, we don’t ever get to travel to exotic locations over March Break. It’s just too expensive for us. I would love nothing more than to pack it all up and go somewhere amazing. I love to travel with my family, and I’m game to go anywhere – hot or cold – this time of year. CALGON TAKE ME AWAY.

So we make do with staying in Ottawa. It’s not so bad, right? There’s a lot to do right here in town.

My March Break strategy is this: Do one fun thing every day, and fill the rest with down time (down time is a must!), reading, outdoor play (if the weather co-operates), and I’m sorry to say… regular chores like grocery shopping and house tidying. Hey, it needs to be done, right?

(The trick is to hold off on that One Thing until after the chores are done. It works remarkably well, and you get to make declarations like: “Of COURSE you can have ice cream for breakfast! But you need to clean your room first!”)


All kidding aside, the One Thing We Do can be big or small, cheap or expensive, at home or somewhere around Ottawa. But I have found that by doing at least ONE THING, it makes it seem like you accomplished a lot over March Break. And I like that feeling.

Here is a list of the things I think we might do over March Break. The second part of this list (below it) will be things we’ve actually done, and I’ll update it as the week goes on. Just because.

p.s. if you have relatively crowd-free March break suggestions (whether they’re in Ottawa or not) leave ‘em in the comments below!

  • go to the library and take out a huge stack of books to last us the week (DONE! See below.)
  • take the bus downtown to visit Mark at work, and take him out to lunch (DONE! See below.)
  • pump up our bike tires and go for the first bike ride of the season
  • pay a visit to T & T Supermarket (yes, this is a fun excursion for us!)
  • Bubble tea in Chinatown
  • walk down to Westboro Village for a cookie, maybe visit the secret garden and see what’s happening there (I’m hoping we’ll spot some redwing blackbirds)
  • baking
  • a special craft
  • sleepover at Nana and Papa’s (for the girls that is!), which includes a mani/pedi too.
  • a road trip (DONE! See below.)

Monday – The girls made KD for the first time (I kid ye not), and after a major house tidy we went to T&T Supermarket where we picked up a lot of neat treats (click to see a photo of some of our haul here). Plus we’re making sushi for dinner!

Tuesday – Road trip to my mother’s place. Included: a long drive with lots of great views, tunes, snacks, new earrings, dessert-making, visiting, fried chicken, a nature walk (I can’t wait to show you their photos), stargazing, daring feats, and a trip to their favourite playground. (And that’s because the equipment was the rare 1960s politically-incorrect and accident-inducing kind. Like this one and this one.)

This trip included some personal growth for me as well. This may sound pathetic to some, but I figured out how to put windshield washer fluid in our Prius (!) I had to pull into the Canadian Tire in Carleton Place to buy some. Sadly, I could not open the childproof cap. Thankfully a tough-thumbed samaritan helped me out in a moment of crisis. :)

Wednesday – We did a super secret thing for CBC radio interview (we were interviewed for a story!), and met Mark for lunch downtown at Lone Star for mediocre fajitas (toppings were dried out and wilted… clearly from the day before.. ugh), took a stroll around the Byward Market, picked up some fresh new kicks in a cool little shop, admired baked goods and new views (I am not including pics from all the gorgeous things I spotted at Urban Barn and EQ3!). Some people apparently had energy to spare so we did a bit of horsing around on the way home.  After a much-needed nap for me, we struck out for Westboro Village, where we undertook a serious Hot Chocolate Evaluation. If you want to get the results (and they might surprise you!), it will be available in the next issue of the Extra Helping. Sign up here if you haven’t already!

Thursday - we made chewy pretzels for dinner and had friends over for a movie… the new Footloose! :)

Friday - I dropped the girls off at their grandparents in the morning. They had appointments for manicures with their grandma, followed by a sleepover. I went to Ikea (ALONE) and tweeted and shopped and had a lovely lunch that even included a very indulgent glass of white wine with my blueberry spinach salad. Bliss! I met Mark downtown for a bite to eat and we saw a movie at the Bytowne, after which we met friends for drinks at the Hintonberg Hub. Heavenly.

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6 Responses to "My March Break battle plan, er, Fun List of Things To Do in Ottawa"

1 | LO

March 12th, 2012 at 10:13 am


I’m the same with the crowds which is why we usually do movies when everyone else is eating-like having theatre to ourselves.
Things to do:
picnic in the family room while watching a fun movie-all finger foods and snacks and in pj’s or beachwear.
go feed the birds at the ncc park lands
go to the sally ann and browse-second hand stores provide great entertainment and sometimes a great find
head to Michaels for some on sale craft making stuff and make something
go on a photo scavenger hunt

2 | coffeewithjulie

March 12th, 2012 at 12:17 pm


We never travel during March break either — too expensive, but it would be fabulous right about now. We did this over the weekend: “Set a tent up in the basement and let the kids “camp” for the night!”

3 | binki

March 12th, 2012 at 2:22 pm


Great list of activities! Thanks.

Here are some of my ideas. Make dinner with a maple syrup theme (smother the following in mmmmaple syrup and serve – pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages/bacon, dessert rich in maple-syrup). Over dinner, write the words to “the Maple Syrup song”, sung to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine (or whatever song you choose). Involve the kids. Gets dressed up. Linen and candlelight.

Short 1/2 day excursion to nice little local towns like Perth or Almonte. Have you been to Almonte recently? Very cool/ fun.

Buy a huge slab of clay and do a day or half day of clay sculptures / pottery at the kitchen table. Clay is surprisingly cheap, as is firing your works of art (both clay and firing available at Clay Pottery Supplies in Ottawa). Parents must join in.

Explore a neighbourhood. In Ottawa… Hintonburg, Westoboro, Wellington Village, Glebe, Ottawa South, New Edinborough.

Evening of Planet spotting. On a clear night, load up the car and drive outside the city. Right now (March Break) you can see 5 planets. Bonus points for keeners who bring a telescope to view the moons of other planets. How cool is that?!

4 | binki

March 12th, 2012 at 2:26 pm


Oops, I meant Capital Pottery Supplies.


5 | Carly

March 12th, 2012 at 9:01 pm


We love a little road trip to Merrickville, especially on a day where the weather is nice because it’s so lovely to walk through it. Great little shops, the historic Rideau Canal – with locks. Love it!

6 | Sara

March 13th, 2012 at 3:08 pm


Since my boys are still home for most days (2 1/2 hours of school is a flicker in time every day) we spend our March Break avoiding crowds and chaos, since we can enjoy museums and other venues when everyone is back at school. So far we went to the agriculture museum (mud keeps lots of people away!) and swimming (at lunch time so the masses were all eating instead of seimming)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (15) and Sarah (13). I am the editor of the Kitchissippi Times, Capital Parent Newspaper, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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