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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Getting yanked out of a rut by my preschooler

Uploaded: Aug 4, 2015
Like many Bay Area families, we've been to the San Francisco Zoo numerous times. I usually give my son the map and he leads us down the same general loop. Our trips all end up pretty similar.

During our last visit, I wasn't especially excited about going to the zoo. I felt like this outing was going to be just like the previous one. And the one before that. And the one before that.

Luckily, about a third of the way into our day, my son spotted the new South American Tropical Rainforest & Aviary and "Water's Extreme Journey" maze. I honestly almost walked right by these two exhibits. I pessimistically expected the rainforest to be too humid and hot and for the maze to require too much reading for a preschooler. Luckily, my son was more optimistic and insisted that we step in. I'm glad he did. The maze turned out to be a fun interactive game that my son enjoyed running through. That change in our routine was just what I needed to get out of my rut and enjoy our day.

As parents, frequent outings can become repetitive. And when you are stuck in a rut, sometimes you don't know exactly what will get you out of it. Usually I schedule a non-parenting activity - plan a date night, check out a new store, watch a movie, or go for a run to brighten my mood. I typically assume that I just need a break from my regular parenting routine. But this time my son reminded me that sometimes I don't need a break from parenting at all. Sometimes I can turn to him and his childhood optimism to turn my day around.

Has your family checked out these new exhibits at the San Francisco Zoo yet?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Zoo lover, a resident of Community Center,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 6:45 am

The new red panda exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo is also great - they are fun animals to watch.

If you really want to break out of a rut, you might want to visit the Oakland Zoo. Oakland has one of only two African Elephant exhibits in the state (the other in in San Diego) and is considered a national leader in elephant care, pioneering new methods of care and setting a new standard for providing adequate space for captive elephants. If your only experience seeing elephants is the old exhibits in San Francisco, you are in for a treat. The baboon exhibit in Oakland is also really fun to see right now, with several babies and young children who play together and spend much of their time racing each other up the rock wall at the back of the exhibit.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 8:19 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Zoo lover - We haven't been to the Oakland Zoo yet but I've heard only wonderful things about it. Our family definitely should check it out this fall. When we went to the San Diego Zoo it was definitely a treat to see elephants. I'm sure our son would like to see them again (instead of just climbing on a sculpture of one)

Posted by Palo Alto Parent, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 9:26 pm

Great point! I also recommend the Color of Nature exhibit at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. I went with a friend who is an elementary school teacher and she went out of her mind, she liked it so much. She immediately started planning a field trip, with following art projects.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 7, 2015 at 9:46 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Palo Alto Parent - We enjoyed that exhibit too! But my son was a little disappointed that it took the place of the exhibit where kids stomp on bugs. Their whales exhibit has also been fun to stop by.

Posted by Trish, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Aug 10, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Good info! I too have nearly rushed past some of the zoo's hidden treasures. With 3 preschool aged children, I've had the best luck entertaining them all on any of our area's wonderful hiking trails, even if the hike lasts 20 minutes to accommodate the youngest of my group. On a hot day any park with redwoods (and lots of kiddie snacks) works wonders on my mood and theirs!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 10, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Trish - Thanks for commenting! Yes, it's amazing what a trip outside can do to boost everyone's mood.

Posted by Mitch Simons, a resident of another community,
on Aug 19, 2015 at 6:05 am

I've been at Oakland Zoo and all I can say - it is a fantastic place, really great to spent time with family and especially with children! I strongly recommend it to you! [portion removed]

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 19, 2015 at 7:16 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mitch Simons - Thanks for commenting! Oakland Zoo does sound like a wonderful place to check out.

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