MONTREAL – Christine Latreille has taken stay-at-home motherhood to a whole new level.
The mum of two boys (aged seven and two-and-a-half) gave up her job as a real estate agent to focus on taking care of her children.
Her younger son had medical issues and she said she didn’t hesitate to quit.
“I just couldn’t do it,” she said.
“I loved that he stayed home with me.”
But in order to get out of the house, Latreille decided to get busy and explore every park in Montreal – over 200 of them in the West Island alone – and start a blog, Stroller Parking, about her adventures.
“We’re done almost all the parks in the West Island, but we still have hundreds to go if we want to finish the island,” she said.
Latreille said her kids are very on-board with the adventure.
“The seven year old is a bit harder to impress,” Latreille told Global News.
“He likes to go to the big, exciting parks. For the younger one, if there’s a sandbox and a swing he’s happy.”
“Every time we drive up to a park he goes ‘Wow! A park!'”
It started off as a fun project, but now Latreille said people have started asking her for advice or to offer their own suggestions.
“You want to keep the young families interested in coming to your city,” she said.
Check out Latreille’s five favourite kid-friendly parks to go to this summer (but for the full list, click here):
Centre de la Nature, Laval
From mini train rides to a petting farm and a greenhouse, the Centre de la Nature park in Laval has something for everyone.
“Pack a picnic and spend the whole day there,” said Latreille.
“We saw pony rides, horses, a llama, bunnies and cows. There’s even a lake with canoes and paddle boards.”
Latreille heard about the park after one of her friends posted something on Facebook, and said her kids just couldn’t get enough.
The L’Aquaciel park in Lasalle is great for those hot, summer days – and best of all, it’s fully fenced so kids can’t just run off on their own.
It’s also made for adults, with a designated area with lounge chairs and picnic tables in viewing distance of the splash pad and park.
“There’s a rainbow area where kids can run through and jets where they can spray each other,” said Latreille.
“It’s nice for each city to have a signature park.”
And this, according to Latreille, is definitely one of Lasalle’s best.
Grier park, Pierrefonds
Grier park in Pierrefonds is unique because it’s wheelchair accessible – just one of three parks that Latreille has noted has this.
“It’s so colourful and there’s an adapted swing, which not a lot of parks have either,” she said.
On top of that, there’s a small maze, a toddler section and lots of fun activities to entertain the kids.
“They like things that spin and turn and that you can bang on,” Latreille explained.
The only problem: there’s no shade, so make sure to wear a hat and lather on the sunscreen.
Nathan Shuster park, Côte-Saint-Luc
Nathan Shuster park in Côte-Saint-Luc entertains both kids and adults – tried and tested by Latreille and her husband.
“My son said this is his favourite park, but my husband and I also had a lot of fun,” she said.
The park was built last year and has a zipline, an elevated rope obstacle and a circuit with a tree house.
“It’s really for everybody, even teens,” she said.
“There’s also a toddler section with logs to climb through and baby swings.”
The downside: there are a lot of mosquitoes, so bring some bug repellent with you.
Valois park, Pointe-Claire
“It’s actually a tie between Valois park and every park in Pointe-Claire,” said Latreille – that’s about 24 parks and yes, she’s brought her kids to every single one of them.
“This is our home park.”
The Pointe-Claire parks are Latreille’s favourite because they are all fenced and gated, something she said the City of Pointe-Claire thought through in order to accommodate all the young kids that would be playing there.