5 ways to play with the ones you love


This cold and dreary weather makes it hard to feeling like playing, but we've got five good ideas to get your family on the go again. And if these aren't what you're looking for, we can also help with ideas to fit your specific interests.



Go Speed Racer, GO!

For my son's 16th birthday, we took a batch of learning-to-drive dudes to K1 Speed, an indoor electric go-cart facility in Buffalo Grove. Watching them have the time of their lives, I knew we'd be back for more. It's the perfect playful date night, either with just your partner or, even better, a group of ready-to-race couples. If you're the parent of teens, I assure you this is a fabulous way to connect. K1 Speed has locations in Addison and Buffalo Grove.

And if you have a group of at least eight, you get the track to yourselves. Find out more at k1speed.com/chicago-buffalo-grove-location.html.



Act it out

One off-the-wall way to connect with your kids, spouse, girlfriends or grown-up siblings is by getting downright silly together. And one of our city's performing arts treasures, The Second City, has a multitude of ways to help you get your silly ON. If you don't want to commit to a series of acting or improv classes, you and your loved ones can pop into one of the drop-in improvisation classes, held 6-8 p.m. every Sunday. No skill required, but you'll want to check your ego at the door. There is something special that happens when people let their guard down, forget reality and pretend.

Find out more about everything The Second City has to offer at secondcity.com.



Chop to it

My teenage son has hopes of being the next Bobby Flay, and while I LOVE his zest for the culinary arts, I wanted to make sure he knew how to properly use all those knives in the chopping block before unleashing his Iron Chef-ness. So he and my husband took a knife skills course together.

Not only did they learn proper chopping technique, they had a little bonding moment over all those blades. Whether you take a cooking class with your teen, your partner, your small kids or your elderly parent, the act of preparing good food often results in good conversation. Plus, it's just fun to learn something new together. Two great places for unique lessons in the culinary arts are The Chopping Block with locations on Lincoln Avenue and in the Merchandise Mart, and Sur La Table located on Michigan Avenue and in Naperville, Northbrook Court and Old Orchard. See a full list of classes at thechoppingblock.net and surlatable.com.



Learn to fly

"Do it scared" has long been one of my favorite mantras. When we face a fear, especially with people we love beside us, it can be overwhelmingly empowering. Not to mention a total trust building/bonding kind of thing. So why not learn to leap from a platform and take a swing on the flying trapeze?

Just north of downtown, in the Edgewater neighborhood, sits an old school fieldhouse that houses the Trapeze School of New York in Chicago, where people are overcoming their fears and learning to fly every day. There is instruction for all levels, from scaredy cat to superhero. Check out chicago.trapezeschool.com for classes and times. Or stop in at Broadway Armory Park, 5917 N. Broadway St., Chicago.



Start from scratch

When I think of what I want most from the relationships with the people I love, it's to know them better. I want to connect on a level beyond carpools, homework, housework, mortgage payments, weekly responsibilities and the daily grind. Play is anything that takes us to that sweet spot where time stands still, and there are no rights and wrongs. When I have taken the time to learn something new, right along with my kids and spouse, we are able to see each other in a new way.

So this month, choose something fun and and learn to do it together. I'll get you started with a few things, below, you might consider learning with the folks you love.

  • Ski (We did this at 40. Our kids are now on Black Diamond and we're still on green, but we learned!)
  • Crochet (it's easier than knitting)
  • Play poker
  • Juggle
  • Paint with watercolors
  • Write HTML code
  • Throw pottery
  • Play the accordion
  • Do a cartwheel
  • Tie a cherry stem with your tongue
  • Make bread from scratch
  • Tap dance


Kids Eat Chicago

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