I’ve never really enjoyed the change of seasons from summer to fall. I’m a total beach bum and wholeheartedly enjoy sitting on a blanket with my kids, basking in the sun, splashing in the surf, and building sandcastles. Summer is a season that always seems to come to an end without warning, abruptly thrusting us into another world of dark, grey dreariness that doesn’t let up until spring. This year especially through me for a loop as the end of summer meant saying goodbye to one of my ‘stay at home kids’ as I sent him off to Kindergarten. The coming of sweatshirt weather is, in my humble opinion, a bit of a bummer. Alas, I don’t want my kids growing up plagued by Seasonal Affective Disorder resulting from a childhood of watching their mother lament the color change of the leaves. For their sake, I try to really play up autumn. We have spent the last five falls celebrating the harvest, visiting farms, learning about natives and settlers, wearing our Halloween costumes threadbare, and eeking out every last moment of outdoor time before winter looms and the snow falls. For those of you cringing at the thought of closing the windows, raking the leaves, and retiring your beach chair, this list is for you. Put on your smile, celebrate yet another gorgeous New England season, and enjoy your children. As it turns out, they truly won’t be this little forever.
1. Go to the playground. I know you’ve probably been there all summer, but this time, pay close attention to where your little ones are developmentally. Take pictures. Watch what their favorite things are, what they need help with, what they are able to do, and what is challenging. It is amazing what a difference a season makes, and how this experience will change by spring.
2. Go on a horse-drawn wagon ride out onto a pumpkin patch. Dame Farm in Johnston offers walk-in weekend hay rides, a petting zoo, the opportunity to stuff a scarecrow, and gorgeous mums.
3. Join a mom’s group, dad’s group, or playgroup. Bellani is an awesome resource for connecting with other families, and other groups in your community can be found on meetup. You’ll be thankful for a group of people to connect with on cold winter days when you’re stuck inside and in need of a little interaction for both your child and yourself.
4. Launch your old Pumpkin through the air on November 5th at The Farmer's Daughter in South Kingstown.
5. Go on a hike. Fall is the perfect time of year to take up hiking, and Rhode Island has several beautiful locations for getting lost in nature. We love admiring the foliage by walking down to Rome Point in search of seals, Frye Nature Preserve in East Greenwich, and Trustom Pond in South Kingstown. There’s a great list of places to explore at the RI Families in Nature site.
6. Make pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. The kids get a real kick out of it, and it’s not nearly as hard as you might think…
7. Bundle up and take a walk around Water Fire. It’s not a terribly stroller friendly event, but babies in carriers, in my experience, do quite well. The October 1st lighting is this year’s special “Flames of Hope” event sponsored by the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation and is a remarkably uplifting night.
8. Visit the Roger Williams Park zoo’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. Try to get there early as a crowd forms and it can be a bit daunting when accompanied by little ones, but the experience is amazing.
9. Go to the Farmer’s Market and make a meal completely out of locally harvested ingredients.
10. Rake up a pile of leaves and let your kids jump in it just for fun. Then, take pictures.
11. Spend a day at Plimoth Plantation immersing yourself in the culture of the settlers in the 17th century. We spent an entire day, sun up to sun down, and enjoyed every minute last year. The kids LOVED the characters in dress and really let their imaginations take over when we told them that we had been brought back in time.
12. If you can, take a trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and you will be captivated by some gorgeous foliage scenery. Even if you just go for the day, it’s a really worthwhile trip fall trip. This one’s even better when coupled with a night’s stay in a hotel with a pool.
13. Have fun at the Bellani Halloween Party where there will be Trick or Treating, pumpkin decorating and fun on October 28th
14. You must visit the corn pit (think sandbox filled with corn kernels), kids zipline, giant mountain slide, pedal-powered go-karts, ecology house and corn maze at Clark Farms in Matunuck, Rhode Island. It is a beautiful spot, right on route 1 in Kelly's neck of the woods.