This article will be the first in a series of articles I will write about advice on how to parent in Chicago alone.  Whether you’re divorced, separated or just have the kids alone for a weekend, constructive activities are an important way to turn your time with your children into quality time.

You want to enjoy your time with your kids and not have them report to the other parent that “we just played video games all weekend.”

I’ve done a few of these articles for my Florida law firm and they were very well received.  I’m not just a lawyer, I’m also a dad.

Outside activities in Chicago are hard.  The weather is terrible half the year in Chicago but if you’re not outside, the kids don’t burn off enough energy.  So, I’ll be focusing on outside activities, especially activities that can be done 365 days a year.

Everyone’s favorite “it’s 9 AM and we don’t know what to do today” is the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Lincoln Park Zoo is 35 acres of animals.  The zoo is conveniently located off Lake Shore Drive and if you’re not driving, you’re a short walk from the Fullerton redline stop.  The Lincoln Park Zoo is a short 4.6 miles away from my office in downtown Chicago.  Directions from my office to the Lincoln Park Zoo are below:

The Lincoln Park Zoo is free! If you get a membership, there are all sorts of benefits from free parking, to early sign ups for Zoo activities.  If you’re driving to the zoo, this pays for itself quickly.

Additionally, there are lots of activities planned throughout the year at the zoo that can fill a morning or afternoon.

While the zoo is free, there are lots of ancillary activities like face-painting, a carousel and cotton candy that are for sale.  So, bring some spending money.

The animals are all kept as humanely as possible.  For example, they don’t keep Elephants anymore because they just can’t have the appropriate facilities for an animal of that size.
There are seals, polar bears, monkeys, tigers and lizards.  They all have their own “indoor” area so they aren’t exposed to the Chicago winter.  These indoor areas also provide a nice break from the cold if you do go during the winter.

There is a cafeteria with a variety of food stations at the zoo.  The food is kid-focused (hot dogs and grilled cheese) but it can get loud inside the cafeteria. If you need a more grown-up environment you can walk over to R.J. Grunts across the street from the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Expect to spend about 2 to 3 hours at the Lincoln Park Zoo. You will all enjoy a healthy walk and a lot of fresh air.  There are dozens of great picturesque locations to take pictures of yourself with the kids (you’ll see everyone doing this)

Finally, You’ll notice that when you have your kids it may be a tough time but that’s okay.  I want you to notice how you feel after the day is done.  The yelling, the mess even the tantrums will melt away in your memory and you’ll only recall the fun moments.  There is something in our brain that turns our memory selective when it comes to our kids…thank goodness.

If you’re looking for more structure in your parenting time, contact my Chicago, Illinois law office to learn how I can help you block off time with your kids whether you go to the Lincoln Park Zoo or any of the other suggestions I’ll be making.

To read this article in Spanish, click here.