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04 Feb, Saturday
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Montreal Families

Ten Places for Dad to take the kids (for two hours, please) on Mother's Day (or any other day, for that matter)

p4040466Dads, it’s go time.

Many moms will swear up and down that they’re really, REALLY happy with a homemade card, a bouquet of grocery store flowers, or breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. But, what they really, REALLY want is a jumbo order of peace and quiet. In a bread bowl.

Dads, they want you to take the children away. Just for a few hours.

What you need is a game plan … and possibly some socks (we’ll explain later).

Here are 10 things to do in Montreal this weekend with your kids, plus a bonus activity. Oh, and one more thing, dads: fobbing the kids off on your own mother doesn’t count, ‘kay?

1. Hit a parent/baby cafe. The Weather Network is calling for rain on Sunday, so plan on an indoor excursion. For dads with kids age 0 to 2, a parent/baby cafe like Bebe et Compagnie in St. Leonard, Maman, Bebe et Cafe in N.D.G. or Kavaloo in Outremont is a good bet. The play areas are well contained, dads will get a chance to drink a coffee while watching the munchkins and, if the kids last, buy them lunch (avoiding at-home cooking and cleanup).

2. Indoor play centres. For kids age 0 to 8, an indoor play centre will do the trick.  Jungle Adventure (Laval and St. Leonard), Funtropolis (Laval), Fundomondo (Pointe Claire), Kazoom (Pierrefonds), Kindermotion (Pierrefonds) or ZigZagZoo (Vaudreuil) are all good bets for active kids. For those toting a baby, all of these places have an area for little ones, as well as huge climbing structures for kids age 2/3 and up. Fundomondo, Kazoom or Kindermotion are great options for parents of two children under 4 — the play areas are enclosed, making it easier to monitor the comings and goings of a 3/4/5-year old, while watching a baby. For older kids, Funtropolis has ball-shooting machines, and both it and Jungle Adventure have trampolines and video games. This is where the socks come in — many indoor play centres require that you and the kids are wearing them.

3. Do the unthinkable and call another dad. Take a deep breath. Ask your wife for the phone number of one of your friends/relatives who has kids. Call the other dad and see if he wants to do a, um, playdate, either at your house or his house, liberating the two moms for a few hours. Or, see if he wants to meet somewhere with the kids. Talk hockey, stocks, Star Trek or Star Wars while watching the kids.  May the force be with you.

4. Take the kids to the Biodome. The Biodome is a central, easy indoor outing for kids ages 18 months and up. Kids will get to see lots of animals, fish and birds (the penguins are the best part) and possibly even learn something new. Although children under age 5, with their teeny weeny attention spans, will probably whiz through everything in under an hour, you can stretch the visit by hitting the gift shop, which has lots of toys and books to look at, and the on-site Cafe Vienne.

5. Head for a bookstore. The children’s departments of Indigo bookstores are great places to hang out.  At the Indigo Pointe Claire and Brossard locations, there are Thomas the Train tables and other toys to play with, as well as areas for sitting and looking at books together. Both of these branches also have on-site Starbucks, so you can grab a latte and browse together for a while.

6. Hit IKEA. If there’s something you need for the house, it’s a good day to go to IKEA, which has all kinds of child-friendly stations throughout the store. The Boucherville location is bigger and more kid-oriented than the Cavendish one: there’s a slide in the children’s section, and an area where they can try all sorts of toys. Both branches have the drop-off children’s play area called Smaland. The Boucherville  location has a special arts and crafts activity on Mother’s Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. IKEA is also a great place to be at lunch time, because the cafeteria has a play area, highchairs and various kid-friendly food options (plain pasta, meatballs, baby food in jars).

7. Check out the Children’s Museum: Would you relax? It’s not a traditional museum. Here, kids get to try out different professional roles, including fisherman, police officer, astronaut, grocery store cashier, chef, construction worker and grocery store cashier. It takes about an hour for them to see all the environments. Heads up: There’s no food on the premises.

8. Visit Wonderland: Theatre group Geordie Productions is staging Through the Looking Glass, which was positively reviewed by the Gazette, at 1 and 3 p.m. at D.B. Clarke Theatre on de Maisonneuve Blvd.

9. Catch a flick: Some of the family-friendly movies on in town, in order of age range, are: Bolt, Monsters vs. Aliens, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Hotel for Dogs, U2 3-D.

10. Ride the bus/metro: Why do so many adults on public transit look suicidal? Clearly they’ve forgotten how cool buses and metros are. If you don’t normally take public transit, treat your kid to a ride. Plan a route using the STM website. This is not a good idea for kids still in strollers though – public transit isn’t that stroller-friendly.

11. Get some groceries: If you’ve completed any of the above missions and find yourself heading home in under two hours, slow down there, cowboy. Let the kids help pick out some grub or takeout for dinner. You never know … mom could be halfway to Mexico by now. And get some flowers while you’re at it.

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