Spring Family Outings

by Dr. Krystal White Contributing writer
Dad BJ enjoys some "educational  speed" with toddler Dominic at the Technik Muesum in Speyer.
Dad BJ enjoys some “educational speed” with toddler Dominic at the Technik Muesum in Speyer.

Spring conjures dreams of picnics, playgrounds and parties. It invites us to slowly emerge from our individual homes and join our community in celebration of life and light. There’s no other time of year that can compete with the fever of spring.
Playing together with friends and family, experiencing activities in the outdoors, attending events and traveling are the building blocks of healthy relationships — this form of quality time increases the effectiveness of our communication, helps us tolerate each other and reduces stress.
“Play can promote an environment where feelings can be shared or create an opportunity to teach social skills in the ever-changing lives of our children,” said School Behavioral Health therapist Laurie Honan, licensed master of social work. “For teens, play can be a great tool to help keep lines of communication open.”
Though couples do need adult-only dates, family excursions have the potential to turn an unhappy, conflict-heavy group into one that happily laughs together.
Often, we don’t go on these small excursions due to lack of time. We just don’t have the energy to research all the different options.
Next time you find your family constantly bickering and not getting along, consider some of these ready made day trips close to the KMC.
“There are only winners when families play together,” Honan said.

Walking on sunshine: Anna and Aiden Stamp enjoy fun and frolic at barefoot park,.
Walking on sunshine: Anna and Aiden Stamp enjoy fun and frolic at barefoot park,.

Suggested Family Excursions

For families with highly active kiddos
WHAT: Barefoot park. This 3.5 kilometer barefoot walk along the River Nahe was the first one in Germany. It is equipped with sections of varying materials, including a long basin of loam (a type of soil good for growing plants). In addition, there are stations for various balancing exercises and several adventurous ways to cross the river: through the shallows, with a ferry boat or barefoot over a long suspension bridge.
WHERE: Bahnhofstraße 4, 55566 Bad Sobernheim
HOW: 1) Pack a picnic
2) Plan to arrive late in morning (around 10 or 11 a.m.) 3) Have the children play in the park for an hour 4) Eat lunch 5) More playground time or a short walk 5) Drive home in the afternoon — the kids can nap in the car!
You might consider going on a 5k volksmarch for rambunctious children ages 6 or above. This community based walking club tradition is relaxing and easy to execute. Find the location of the starting point at www.dvv-wandern.de/aktuelles-angebot.html and follow the marked trails. Once you’ve achieved your distance, enjoy homemade locally baked treats at the community center.

For an educational outing
WHAT: Dynamikum, Pirmasens. This is an interactive science center with mind-blowing and hands-on fun for all ages. It also overlooks a pretty lake. There is a restaurant on site or you can bring a family lunch. Groups and birthday parties are possible.
WHERE: Fröhnstraße 8, 66954 Pirmasens. Directions are marked coming from the B10 and B270 as well as from the train station. The Rheinberger-Complex has a park house. Further parking areas are marked.
HOW: 1) Go when the weather isn’t sunny. It’s an awesome place to take the kids on a cloudy or rainy spring weekend day. 2) Get there by mid morning to beat the crowds 3) Bring snacks. There is so much to explore, you might end up spending hours in there!
WHAT: Kunsthalle, Mainz. This is a contemporary art outing. The Kunsthalle Mainz is a museum that presents contemporary art from Germany and all over the world.
WHERE: Go to “Mainz Hauptbahnhof” and from there take bus No. 58 to “Feldbergplatz/Stadtwerke Mainz AG.”
HOW: Try out their family walk, perfect for children ages 6 to 11. It’s a gui­ded tour for child­ren that occurs at the same time as the adult tour. It starts at 3 p.m. and costs €12 per family. Dates are June 13, July 18 and Sept. 12.

For families with teens
WHAT: Shopping in Mannheim
WHERE: Mannheim is called the “Quadratestadt,” or City of Squares, because it has a grid-like pattern to its city center and many plazas.
HOW: 1) Let your teen sleep in until mid morning with the goal of leaving the house by 10:30 a.m. This extra shut eye time will help your teen be more friendly. 2) If you arrive by noon on a Saturday, you’ll be able to hit the open air market in the main Marktplatz. 3) On certain dates, check out the huge flea market in the Meßplatz: April 19, June 21 and July 19.
WHAT: Bostalsee. Take your teen and their friends to try out a pedal boat or paddle boarding — or just to lounge in the sun. There is a seven-kilometer paved path the children can walk or ride bicycles on and leisurely circle the lake. Two beaches have plenty of sand to lounge on. The main beach, Strandbad Bosen, has a massive grassy area dotted with trees to accommodate those looking to get out of the sand and sun but still be close to the water.
WHERE: Seeverwaltung, Am Seehafen 1, 66625 Nohfelden-Bosen
HOW: 1) Get your teen to commit to a date 2) Pack the cooler, and bring your own grill to the area for a picnic. 3) Call the center at 06852-90-10-0 (the staff speaks English) or see www.bostalsee.de (some parts in English) for more details.
(Dr. White is a pediatric psychologist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the developmental health consultant for Europe Regional Medical Command. She specializes in healthy habits across the lifespan and evaluating developmental disorders.)