Raising a toddler is no walk in the park. Everyone always tells you to enjoy the early years because they go by so quickly. Though one day you’ll indeed look back and wonder where the time went, admittedly, it can feel like you’ll be wiping bottoms for the foreseeable future.
I know all too well the struggles and the sacrifices it takes to raise a toddler. That’s why it’s so important that you pick the right city to settle down in. For me, Chicago, and specifically, North Park, just felt like home from day one.
Along the way, I have learned some vital lessons about raising a toddler in Chicago. The good news is that if you are thinking of settling down in Chicago, you are about to make one of the best decisions for you and your family. Not only is the Windy a great place to raise kids, but you will also be surrounded by a vibrant mix of different cultures and an upbeat environment.
Some more things that you should know about raising toddlers in Chicago include:
Chicago is a great place to set up family traditions
It’s finally fall, which means that it is that time of the year to hit those neighborhood pumpkin patches. In Chicago, trips to the pumpkin patch are a common tradition for many families with toddlers. So if you are looking to incorporate more family traditions, then you will be pleasantly surprised by the array of patches that are distributed all through the city.
Most patches in the city offer a lot more than just pumpkin picking. The best farms offer a range of activities, most of which are free, for families to participate in such as petting zoos, corn mazes, and hayrides. Like most pumpkin patches and farms in the city, things have started to normalize in the pandemic. However, you must plan if you intend to take your toddler for a visit.
Although the fun to be had is still the same, a few things have changed here and there. If you do plan to visit a patch with your toddler, you’ll find sanitation stations all over so that you can remain safe and virus-free. Most farms will require masks for any indoor games and activities. You will also need to call ahead or at least register first before going.
Plenty of playgrounds for kids
When you settle down in an area, you need lots of room to run and Chicago has plenty for your toddler. Toddlers need to move, run, and stretch their limbs for their mental and physical abilities to advance healthily. That can be hard to do in a cramped neighborhood or apartment with a tiny rooftop deck.
Lucky for you, Chicago is chock-full of playgrounds for your little ones to explore. Slides, climbing walls, monkey bars, skating rinks, tunnels, mazes, splash pads, slides; the playgrounds have it all. Best of all, these playgrounds are highly accessible to kids of all ages, which is great news is you have older kids as well.
Remember to set aside time for yourself
Most parents will tell you that leisure time, spend doing activities for yourself and your spouse, is just as important, if not more. Personal time with your spouse or partner is a crucial component of self-care and your sanity. Because toddlers really can make you want to pull your hair out.
As such, take that hour or two to pursue a project that you want to pursue; go on a date; visit a museum or just go out dancing and have a good time. The good news is that there is no shortage of things to occupy your time in Chicago. The Windy City is one of the most vibrant cities and you will have your pick of the litter whether you feel like listening to some jazz or enjoying the best deep dish pizza the city has to offer.
The daycare is affordable
Child care costs are soaring all across the country. The average cost of full-time childcare in the U.S today stands at an insane $16,000 each year. In some states, childcare costs even outweigh tuition costs at a flagship university. By all measures, childcare is getting more expensive than almost any other consumer good or service that’s tracked by the government. Read more at zaycare.com
That’s why parents in Chicago are so lucky to have a wide range of affordable childcare options to choose from. Whether you are in the market for a formal child-care center, family, or in-home care, there is an option for all toddler parents in Chicago.
Before you settle for daycare in Chicago, make sure that you carry out extensive research to ensure that it is a great fit for both you and your baby/ies. When you visit the potential daycare, be sure to pay attention to how the staff is interacting with the little ones.
Ideally, you want to settle for a daycare center with warm and friendly staff. Ideally, they should also be on the floor playing with the kids. During their toddler years, children need close, loving, and interactive relationships with caregivers so that they can thrive. So pay close attention during your site visits.
Pick a great pre-school program in Chicago
Preschool is a great educational foundation for your toddler if you want them to be fully prepared for their educational future. Chicago has lots of amazing pre-school programs that you can choose from but not all are created equal. So the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Before you decide about which preschool to attend, determine what your priorities are. Try and envision the thing that you want your child to achieve by the end of their pre-school adventure. Do you want them to have a firmer grasp of the fundamentals of academics such as numbers and alphabets?
Or do you want the pre-school to build more on their ability to connect and socialize with others? Before you settle for a program, ask for recommendations from neighbors or other toddler parents in Chicago and always carry out a site visit and bring your toddler along to determine whether the school is a good fit for them.