As new parents, we thought we could do everything we used to do pre-kids. And when they're itty bitty, it's not so hard - just strap them in the front-carrier and you're


But when they're walking and wiggling and getting into mischief, it becomes abundantly clear that life isn't the same spontaneous adventure it was when you were kid-less. We used to jump in the car and visit our friends in the Twin Cities with hardly any planning. If we got a great deal on an overseas flight - we booked it. No second thoughts.

Today, I can't even go to the grocery store or to a play date at the park without packing an arsenal of supplies. We plan our days around naptimes. They're in bed by 7:30 - or if they're not, we pay for it 10-fold.

At first it was depressing, and we mourned the things we used to love. Or we attempted them with the kids - with disastrous results. But now that we've been doing the parenting thing about four years, we've discovered how to live our lives and do the things we used to - just on a smaller scale. At a more kid-friendly level, if you will.

Here are some examples:

Little Amerricka, not Great America

I'd love to go to Great America or even a county fair. But my boys are runners, and I'm afraid of losing them. Plus, waiting in line is torture for my wiggly wild men.

But we recently discovered Little Amerricka, which is reasonably priced, has tons of kid rides, no lines (at least, we never waited), and convenient parking and bathrooms. Perfect for our little posse.

Monona Farmers Market, not Dane County Farmers Market

Did I mention I have runners? As much as I love the big farmers market on the square, it's terrifying with a pint-sized sprinter.

Since I'm not keen on those kid leashes, we started going to the Monona Farmers Market on Broadway. And bonus: They have a park right there, so the kids know that if they behave on the trek through the veggie and cheese stands, they're rewarded with some jungle gym time.

Olbrich concerts over Concerts on the Square

We still get our dose of live, outdoor music on hot summer nights. Only we now enjoy it from the big grassy lawn at Olbrich during their Tuesday evening concert series. The kids can see the musicians up close, run around all they want and explore the paths if they get bored. Smaller crowds, nearby parking and flushing toilets - we'll take it!

So now it's your turn. I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions on how you're able to enjoy your pre-kid activities, now that you're a parent.

Brooke Miller Hall makes her home in Madison with her husband and two sons.