It’s nearly here again…summer! And with it comes the end of another school year and the start of what seems to be both the fastest and slowest season of the year, depending on where you’re sitting. Some of you have summer calendars already jammed so full with plans that you risk whiplash racing from one event and vacation to the next. Some of you are planning to go “back home” to spend extended time with far away relatives and friends. And some of you are wondering how to fill stretches of unscheduled time with your kiddos, especially if that time will be spent here in hot, humid, mosquito-filled Milan. In order to avoid the inevitable bickering and fighting that ensues when kids have too much time and not enough to do (and to save parents from the how-many-hours-left-until-bedtime grind), you can nuture the emotional health and well-being of the whole family, by getting armed with a bit of local knowledge and doing some advance planning.
Yes, Milan can be stiflingly hot in the summer, but getting out of the house is imperative to filling the days and maintaining sanity, so grab the sunblock and water bottles and get ready to hit the town. More places are open than ever before during the summer, and there is no shortage of parks, pools and attractions, once you know where to look.
If your kids are early risers, take advantage of the coolest time of the day and head to the park, especially since most pools, amusement parks, museums and attractions don’t open until at least 9 am, or often 10 am (or later!). But before walking out the door, make sure to have your park bag or backpack loaded with the right stuff. I have been amazed over the many years I have been taking my daughters to the park near our home that I am almost always the only parent who brings things to play with. Yes, there is a playground, but it’s so easy to increase the fun factor by bringing some outdoor toys, such as:
- Squirt guns and water toys
- Sidewalk chalk
- Mini tennis racket & balls
- Soccer ball
And don’t forget snacks!! Even better, bring a blanket, find some grass under a tree and have a picnic. Although there are many parks throughout the city (here is a link to an article on the top 10 parks, http://www.wheremilan.com/discover-milan/entertainment/milan-city-parks/), some of the large, centrally located parks are:
- Parco Sempione, http://www.comune.milano.it/wps/portal/ist/it/vivicitta/verde/parchi/parco_sempione
- Giardini Pubblici, http://ciaomilano.it/e/sights/giardini.asp
- Parco Giovanni Paolo II, http://www.comune.milano.it/wps/portal/ist/it/vivicitta/verde/parchi/parco_papa_giovanni_paolo_ii
- Giardini della Guastalla, http://www.comune.milano.it/wps/portal/ist/it/vivicitta/verde/parchi/giardino_guastalla
To stay cool in the summer heat, there are many good public swimming pools to try. My absolute favorite is the historic Bagni Misteriosi in Porta Romana, http://www.bagnimisteriosi.com. It reopened last year after being closed for 10 years and undergoing a massive renovation. For other pool options, here is a link to the list of public pools in Milan with opening hours and costs, http://www.vitalowcost.it/nuotare-a-milano-tutti-gli-orari-e-i-costi-delle-piscine-comunali/
Amusement and Water Parks
When you’re looking for rides, games, roller coasters and water slides, it’s time to head to one of the many amusement and water parks in the area, some of which are just a few kilometers away.
- Leolandia – especially great for younger kids and just 30 min. from Milan, https://www.leolandia.it/en/
- Gardaland / Gardaland Sea-Life /The Gardaland Hotel – adjacent to Lake Garda, a traditional theme park for all ages, https://www.gardaland.it/en/
- Acquaworld – indoor and outdoor water park about 25 min. from Milan, http://www.acquaworld.it
- Acquatica Park – historic water park of Milan, recently renovated, http://www.acquaticapark.it
- Minigolf Adventure – Europe’s biggest minigolf! http://www.minigolf-adventure.it
- EuroPark Milano Idroscalo – small and close by, next to Linate Airport, http://www.europarkmilano.com
Aside from filling the calendar with fun activities and out-of-town trips, there are some key points to keep in mind as parents, as you look ahead to those 10 or so weeks between the last school bell and the first day of the new year.
- Remember that kids do better with routine. Even though the summer morning routine can and should be more relaxed than during the school year, letting your kids know how the days will generally go at home can go a long way toward keeping things on track.
- Remember that kids do best when they have some work to do. Work makes the play part fun. Need proof? Think about how much you appreciate your vacations after all the hard work you do.
- Remember to stock up on age-appropriate educational toys. Since kids get the majority of new toys around the end-of-year holidays, most toys are either forgotten about, broken or no longer age appropriate by the time summer rolls around. Invest in some new ones before summer begins and introduce them in those particularly bored and whiny moments.
Remember that the best summer memories often cost the least. Take a few minutes to remember your own childhood summers and what you loved best. Whether it was staying up later each night and sleeping in every morning, eating popsicles at the pool or having ice cream become its own food group, it’s often the smaller, quieter aspects of experiences and periods in time that tend to linger and stay with us the longest. So, when planning the big summer trips and investing the big money, just be sure to factor in time for plenty of silly, sweet, simple moments, too.