Behind the Scenes
I should tell you it took two hours to get us there. Yes, we live in the middle of Toronto, but don't let that deceive you. Going anywhere with children adds years to most outings. First it took me a full hour to Prepare All The Things. What does a family of four need for a trip the Royal Ontario Museum? I'd be happy to tell you: diapers, wipes, a full change of clothes for two children, three, filled water bottles, tea, snacks, dinner, more snacks, two umbrellas, a stroller, an extra stroller seat in case
That took one hour. Next up was a 40 minute walk to the subway that takes me 15 when I walk by myself. Shira was bundled in the stroller, but then we have to account for Alyce's dawdling, because there are puddles! And things that look like worms! And a pile of melting snow! And an airplane! We finally arrived, wet from the rain, but motivated by our collective excitement to see dinosaur bones.
10 minutes later we found ourselves still excited about bones, but less excited by the fact that we were on a subway platform, a mere block away from the museum, but in front of a sign alerting us that the elevators at St. George station were down for maintenance. Awesome. Fortunately I only had one level to ascend and found an escalator on which to awkwardly balance the front wheel of my enormous stroller. (I was traveling on the north-south line; had I been coming from the dreaded east or west I would have had to unpack Shira from the stroller, help her up the stairs, and then carry the double stroller by myself, reassembling the entire package at the top.)
We made, two hours later but relatively unharmed. It's March Break in Ontario, so Alyce is off school all week. Matt and I are dividing up the week in terms of work and being home with the girls, but we wanted to do something special as a family. We have a membership at the Ontario Science Centre, but we visit the ROM much less frequently. (Note to self: living in Toronto is a good, good thing.) There has been a special dinosaur exhibit on for months with some new-to-North American-museums dinosaur bones from South America, Africa, and Asia. I've been meaning to take Alyce for some time, but like most things I waited until its last week in Toronto. However, the plus side to my procrastination this time around is that admission to the Ultimate Dinosaurs exhibit during March Break, after 4:30 pm, is 35% off. Finally, waiting until the last minute pays off.
What to expect while visiting the Royal Ontario Museum with young children
Fear of bats (re: bat cave)
A meltdown or two, especially if you're there in late afternoon or evening.
All of the above, plus:
You'll learn things: If you have a child in kindergarten who just finished a unit on dinosaurs, she will probably tell you things like, That dinosaur must have been a herbivore because its teeth are flat, or, That's a fossilized skull. I do, and mine did. Next she'll tell me that when I travel in space I'll need to wear an oxygen tank because there isn't any oxygen in space, which we need to breathe. No wait, she already told me that last week.
They'll dress up like a dinosaur: The dress-up clothes in the kids section will probably be their favourite part and you'll remember that you've been meaning to find some non-princess, non-fairy, non-ballerina clothes for their dress-up bins at home. I can't really roll my eyes over their daily need to dress up like princesses when all of their dress-up clothes are, wait for it, princess dresses. I'm not always the smartest parent.
The bees are always winners: At the ROM you'll find bees--real live, buzzing, honey-making bees. They can buzz back and forth between their hive and the outside world through a plastic pipe running through a nearby window (to taunt the nearby university students, Matt declared). The best part is that the bee keeper kindly painted a white dot on the Queen Bee so that she's easy to find amidst all the other manic honey bees. Once your child spots the Queen he'll receive a sticker that declares his Queen Bee finding mission a success. Success!
If you're looking for something to do this week, the Ultimate Dinosaurs are only there until March 17th. If you want to avoid large crowds of people, you might want to skip the fancy dinosaurs and just go next week. Not that they're not awesome, but there is an entire museum to see, and your kids will probably just want to play dress-up anyway.
How is your March Break going?