"You can't." "Please don't". "I said no". These are too common of phrases that I mutter as a mom. I work hard to set boundaries for my kids, but then a recent visit to the Manitoba's Children Museum eschewed all my rules. Gasp! It allowed my kids just to be kids. Here are five fun ways the Manitoba Children's Museum made me rethink the way I parent:  

“Go head: use all the tape.”

I get anxious when my kids start crafting with tape because I know the whole roll will be used and/or destroyed. At Manitoba Children’s Museum’s latest travelling exhibit Tapescape, using the whole roll of tape – or even over 300 rolls – is permitted. Tapescape is an engineering and design marvel with 3D tunnels, slides and a teepee constructed out of thousands of metres of plastic wrap and packing tape over scaffolding. It’s even strong enough to carry a 200-pound dad! The original version of Tapescape debuted in 2014 at the Children’s Museum, but this version 2.0 features a few more interactive elements such as motion-sensor lighting and an artful reading teepee for kids to tuck into. Tapescape runs until September 2. 

“Please, play with your food.”

Playful landscapes abound at Manitoba Children’s Museum, and the Lasagna Lookout was our next stop. Teachable moment: kids can learn a lot by playing with food. In the multi-storey, pasta-shaped structure, they crawled through tubes of macaroni, got lost in a forest of spaghetti, and lounged about on pillows of ravioli. If only getting my kids to eat what I cook could be this much fun.

“Yes, you may operate a heavy machinery.”

My son is fascinated with all things mechanical, and I’m constantly warning him about the dangers of motorized vehicles. So imagine his thrill when at the Manitoba Children’s Museum he was encouraged to conduct a train, operate a crane, and even control a digger! His mind was blown, and he was all too proud to shout (much to my chagrin) “See Mommy? I am allowed to drive!”

“Sure, splashing is allowed.”

At home, the sink and bathtub are normally “no splashing” zones because of the clean up factor (sigh). But the Splash Lab permanent gallery at Manitoba Children’s Museum reminded me of the harmless entertainment a little H2O can offer. Water has always been a form of recreation to my kids, but never really used as a form of science. And here, my kids experimented with the power of a water vortex and learned about diverting water by building dams…and the best part was that there was no clean up.

“It’s okay to wreck your brother’s things”

Building a block tower at Manitoba Children's MuseumBreaking block towers at Manitoba's Children Museum

Part of being a parent is also being a referee between competing siblings. At home, I am always asking my kids to not intentionally destroy each other’s art or LEGO projects. Meanwhile, at the Manitoba Children’s Museum in the Tumble Zone, it is very much acceptable to knock down towers and make your brother start again.

To moms and dads open to learning new approaches to parenting – consider a trip to Manitoba’s Children Museum. It just might change your perspective. And trust me, it’ll be a lot more fun.

Travel Manitoba staff was hosted by partner Manitoba Children’s Museum, who did not review or approve this story.