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It’s blazing hot in the DC area. I’m pretty sure it’s this way across most of the country right now. DC heat is no joke, but neither is being a mom to a toddler and wife to a 35 year old man. After John’s work trip, we were looking for fun ways to be outside, be cool, and be together as a family after five days apart. John came across a link for Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Arlington’s Upton Hill Regional Park, just fifteen minutes from our house. With two slides, a giant splash pad with a giant dumping bucket, and three pools including a tot pool, it seemed like a no brainer! We have a pool in our complex, but we wanted a little more excitement.
I was worried about the cost because things in the DC area can get pricey, but at $8.50 per person this is an incredibly affordable way to beat the heat in the summer in DC. Another perk – kids under two are free AND you don’t have to be from Northern Virginia to enjoy the park! There is an after 4pm rate, which would be great during the work week. There’s also a season pass for $85 per individual for those in the area! They have family options too depending on the size of your family.
Parking filled up early at Ocean Dunes, so we had to park in the driveway entering into the park. No big deal, just knowledge for next time. John dropped Ri and me off at the front to wait in the shade. We sunscreened prior to leaving the house to save time! There was no line and the transaction to get in was quick! There are changing rooms for men and women as well as lockers for $0.75! There’s a snack area by the giant dumping bucket. We also passed the batting cages and mini golf course. This park will be awesome for us when Ri is a bit older, but for now the pool with sprays will do.
We had to walk around a bit before finding a spot right for our towels and bags by the tot pool. There was a small umbrella providing a bit of shade in the pool. We stuck by that for the most part. John and I switched turns to hop into the lap pool without bringing Ri in with us. It’s always nice to sneak a few minutes of baby-free time wherever we go.
Ri was decent at the pool. We actually had an incident where he turned the corner and wouldn’t calm down. He didn’t want to wear his hat, typical toddler behavior. We had to sunscreen his entire head because his hair is so light. The sunscreened hair always looks terrible in photos, but I’d rather have that than a sunburned kid.
Ri is screaming, and I’m just trying to calm him down by talking to him, letting him know I know he’s upset but this is what happens when he doesn’t wear his hat. He has absolutely no idea what I am saying or what’s going on, but I keep repeating it over and over thinking either one day it’ll sink in or other people will see me as a calm and loving parent and not roll their eyes at the pterodactyl-screaming-thrashing child. A boy, about four, also having sunscreen put on came up behind us and yelled “SHUT UP, STOP CRYING!” at my son! Mortified doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. Immediately, his parents took him aside, said that the young boy’s mommy and daddy were doing everything they possibly could to quiet the baby, and he needed to be patient with our efforts.
I was stunned.
Instead of evil side eyes and mumbles under their breath, we were blindsided by this couple’s understanding.
I didn’t know what to say to the parents. I am assuming they’ve been there and know exactly what it feels like to have your child yelling in a public place. All parents have. All parents eat their words. You can’t ever say “That will never be my kid.” It will. It’s okay. They’re young and they don’t understand the world around them or half of what you’re saying.
We went to the pool again to let Ri burn off some more steam. I went back to our chairs to grab our water camera. The young boy apologized to me and I told the parents I really appreciated their swift actions because we all know how terrifying those screams and judgmental eyes are in public. They agreed. It was a nice reminder that no parent is perfect and every one of us tries to do our best.
We ended up leaving not long after as Ri never got out of his bad mood. Next time, we will head to the waterpark as soon as it opens to capitalize on this great park.