Family of Two

By Chloé Taylor-Blais

Are holiday dinners at your house quiet affairs or are they bustling with kids, dogs, neighbours and neighbours’ kids? No matter how you slice it, the holiday turkey (or ham or goose or tofu loaf) wouldn’t be the same without family. But what if your family is just you and your partner? Don’t fret; family is family no matter the size, and there is a lot to do in Ottawa without the rug rats getting underfoot.

For Ottawa families without children, the holidays can be especially exciting. Child-free couples are able to visit multiple family tables, take in their friends’ cooking and their moms’ cooking and even enjoy a day outside, away from the traditions that bind us to the family table. Couples and singles with fur-babies of the doggie variety can be found at Bruce Pit and Conroy Pit, enjoying the company of other dog parents and the unconditional love of a pet.

Although Ottawa may be known as a great place to raise children, it’s also a fun place to explore sans kids. Throw on your sweaters, grab a hot chocolate and hit the streets. Once you’ve dodged the double-wide strollers of Bank Street, you can spend a lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying the bookshops, pubs and unique clothing stores of the Glebe. Westboro offers fine food fare for late night dining, which is another benefit for the kid-free set.

If you’ve made the choice not to have children, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a family of your own. Grab your nieces or nephews and take them for a skate at a neighbourhood rink. You can spoil them with cocoa and cookies and not have to deal with the sugary consequences. If you love kids but don’t consider parenthood an option, join an organization like Big Brothers or Big Sisters; you can spend fun, nurturing times with a youngster, without a lifetime responsibility. And you don’t need kids to enjoy the many museums and art galleries of Ottawa. Spoil yourself with a wander through the Canada Science and Technology Museum and walk at your own pace through the magnificence of the National Gallery of Canada. Go at suppertime, to avoid kids, if your preference is for a quiet visit.

A child-free routine means you are at liberty to create your own adventures or to join friends without kids for grown-up activities. Pubs abound in the city and sharing a pint with your closest friends is the perfect warm-up on a cold winter’s night. Finding other couples without kids, especially those in their later 30s, can be a challenge, though. There aren’t too many online resources for Ottawans sans babies, but sites such as meetup.com allow you to start a group of your own.

Make your home an oasis to bring about a special kind of closeness that, for couples, means family. Romantic weekends are regular luxuries of the child-free, so make the most of them. Start with a romantic dinner out or a late night flick, popcorn and all. Be a kid if you don’t have kids—turn up the tunes and dance in your living room with your lover until the wee hours. Take long, uninterrupted baths, read your favorite books to one another, play board games and cook together. One of the benefits of not having children is the freedom it brings. Hop in the car and make your way to Quebec City for the weekend or Montreal or the other side of town. When is the last time you took a trip to Orleans or Kanata or Barrhaven, just to see the holiday lights?

Frazzled moms and dads would give anything for a special night off, with their kids safely tucked away. If you don’t have kids of your own, you can offer to babysit once in a while to give them a much-needed break. You get the cuddles and the quality time, without the pressure to get them off to school in the morning. If you have older nieces or nephews or neighbours, you can be the cool ones who play video games with them or invite them to go shopping with you. Your role as the fun one means you can let their parents be the disciplinarians while you can be the pal, teacher and confidant. Teenaged kids often confide in their “cool aunt” when they’re going through hard times at home, so having the time for them can be really beneficial.

The bottom line is, family is what you make it. If you have lots of love, lots of friends and a desire for adventure, then you’ll never feel short of family. Ottawa is a great place for raising kids, but it’s also a great place to live kid-free. It’s safe, fun and beautiful and has a lot to offer any kind of family, even a family of two.

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