No Cottage? No Problem!

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What to do when you feel like the only family in West Michigan without a cottage.

There's a strange summer phenomenon that occurs here in West Michigan: Neighborhoods become eerily quiet.

Kids that are usually out riding bikes, or playing tag, or kicking the soccer ball around are just—gone. There are no lawn mowers rumbling, or adults working on their houses. The pool we belong to is so empty, I wonder if someone saw a Baby Ruth candy bar floating in it.

What's going on?

It's the summer cottage exodus.

But never fear. If you feel like you are the only one in town without a cottage, make good use of your cottage-free time, and do something fun with your family. It just takes a little more imagination. Here are nine ideas for enjoying your time at your own home in your own city:

1. Make a water park in your backyard.
Purchase a huge piece of plastic at Home Depot (stay away from black—it gets too hot in the sun), a bag of tent stakes, and make yourself a huge slip-n-slide. Add liquid soap and let your kids rip! Get a sprinkler going, fill an inflatable pool with water, and you have yourself a water park right in your own backyard!

2. Create a backyard oasis.
Whether it's a patio, deck, or small corner of your yard, make a place to hang a hammock, place a fire pit, or lounge in your lounge chair to read a book. After a while, you won't even miss the water.

3. Take a family bike ride.
Visit www.traillink.com for a list of great trails throughout our city and state. Pack up the fam, the bikes, and a picnic, and make an active day of it.

4. Go to the playground.
This is one thing my kids don't get to do enough during the school year, so summer is the time. Call up some friends and meet them there, and you have a play date you don't have to host in your home!

5. Catch a baseball game.
More than just baseball, our Fifth Third Ball Park is a fantastic place for the family—and AJ's fun park is right next door. Visit www.fifththirdballpark.com for a schedule of home games and events.

6. Have your other non-cottage-owning friends over for a barbecue.
Believe it or not, you are NOT the only one without a cottage. So call up those cottageless friends of yours and invite them over! Visit www.thepulledtogethermom.com for a barbecue menu and recipes.

7. Go camping ...
... in your backyard! No car to pack, no gear needed (besides a tent), and no worries if you all decide at midnight that it's time to crawl into your comfy bed indoors. Seriously, your kids will think this is so fun! Don't have a tent? Borrow one from a friend.

8. Explore downtown.
Downtown Grand Rapids is very cool. If there is nothing in particular going on, take your kids to one of the great museums and dinner. Visit www.experiencegr.com for happenings and ideas.

9. Just relax!
You have one mortgage, one lawn to mow, and one house to maintain. You are not obligated to go anywhere or do anything on your weekends. So relax! Being cottageless is really not so bad!

Written by: Pam Toigo is a part-time working, full-time mother of three. She's also a wife, decorator, shopper, runner, and blogger, among other titles. To read more from Pam, visit http://www.thepulledtogethermom.com.
Photo courtesy of Pam Toigo.


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