11 Tips for Pumpkin Patch Success
Fall colors are everywhere. You feel the wind in your face and laugh at the joy of your child running to find that perfect pumpkin at the pumpkin patch. It is magical… that is until you realize your feet are stuck in the mud and that beautiful white shirt your child is wearing is no longer so perfect.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I love Fall. The changes in the wind and temperatures. The excitement of school starting, hot drinks, pumpkin spice, and, of course, pumpkins! Trips to the pumpkin patch are something our whole family looks forward to every year.
I have loved pumpkin patches since I was small. I even have a picture somewhere of me when I was little on a pumpkin patch trip. I’m holding my pumpkin. But I think my skirt got stuck on the pumpkin somehow, so I was showing a little more than expected in that pic. Oops! The things you can get away with when you are 4!
After many successes and “learning moments,” I’ve learned over the years how plan for a successful trip to the pumpkin patch!
#1 Plan According to Age
Do a little research before you head out so that you and your children have a great time. There are many pumpkin patches to choose from. Some cater to young children with fun activities for toddlers, while others are more appropriate for older kids. And there are those that are really just rows of pumpkins for purchase and nothing else. If your kids are younger, the pumpkin patches with activities like petting zoos, hay bale mazes, and dried corn to play in (think sandbox with dried corn kernels instead of sand) are great. But older kids may enjoy a pumpkin patch that has something a little more daring, like corn mazes, big slides or zip lining. It is best to know the desires of your family to make your decision of where to spend your time and money.
#2 Dress Appropriately
The nature of pumpkins is that they grow on the ground. Shocker, right?! This means dirt, lots of dirt (or mud if you’ve had a recent rain). I highly recommend dressing yourself and children in clothes that you are ok getting dirty and are easily washable. And that means no white for me or my kids. They have been known to stain a brand new white shirt before taking the tags off, so dressed in white at a pumpkin patch is a definite no-go.
Even though we live in California, we have had muddy pumpkin patch conditions many times and ended up with mud covered shoes. So now I’ve learned to come prepared. The kids wear boots or old shoes to the pumpkin patch and I bring a change of shoes/spare set of clothes in the car, just in case. And bring a bag to put all that dirty stuff in. You don’t want your car getting muddy on the inside as well as the outside! And even if they don’t have to change clothes, I make them take their shoes off in the car so we don’t get super dusty shoe prints all over the car.
#3 Bring Your Camera
Pumpkin patches provide such wonderful opportunities for pictures of your kiddos having fun. So make sure to bring your cell phone or camera with lots of batteries and space for pictures. I try catching pics of my kids petting and feeding the animals, picking out the perfect pumpkin or just looking cute with a sea of orange in the background. And lots of pumpkin patches even have those cute little cut-out stands that you stick your head through. So many fun places to snap pics of the family making memories.
#4 Bring Cash
In my experience, credit cards usually don’t work out at a pumpkin patch. So bring cash to pay any necessary entrance or attraction fees. Many pumpkin patches have a place to buy snacks or drinks too. And don’t forget you are there to get a pumpkin! Those things usually cost money too.
#5 Bring Plastic Bags or Blanket
Not only are the pumpkin patches dirty, but the pumpkins are too. You may choose to protect your car from the dirt and mud like I do. I bring a few plastic bags (reusing ones I get from a store) to either put the pumpkins in or set them on top of. This year I just used an old blanket that I spread across the trunk to catch the pumpkin dirt in case they rolled around on the drive home.
#6 Prepare for Rough Terrain
There may not be smooth paths to walk on at the pumpkin patch, so be prepared to use a jogging stroller if you choose to bring one. I tried to avoid bringing a stroller at all, mainly because I didn’t have one that handled rough terrain. It could barely handle the aisles at Target smoothly, so I knew the pumpkin patch was out of the question. I chose instead to wear my baby in a baby carrier so that I had hands free to help my other kids with pumpkins or climbing on fake horses.
But I must say, the one thing I recommend most if you have an infant with you while at the pumpkin patch: bring another adult! It really helps with having more than one set of hands if you have a baby with you and your little one(s). Now that mine are older, I have no trouble managing by myself. But when my youngest was smaller, I often relied on my husband or other mom friends to help.
#7 Be Prepared for Port-A-Potties
If at all possible, use the restroom prior to heading to the pumpkin patch, because port-a-potties are usually not the first choice for restroom comfort or cleanliness. I won’t get into it, but late afternoon port-a-potties are just not pleasant. But bladders don’t always know that they shouldn’t fill up when a plumbed restroom is not available, so you have to make the best of it. It may be a good idea to keep a small roll of toilet paper or even a few tissues handy in case there are none in the port-a-potty. Tissues save the day more often than we want to admit.
And if you have an infant with you, you might want to have that other adult on baby duty. I’ve had to wear my little one in the port-a-potty at the pumpkin patch before. It was not my favorite experience.
#8 Bring Baby Wipes
Did I mention dirt already? Well, if I didn’t convince you before, I’ll try again. Pumpkin patches are dirty. And there are often no sinks available in the middle of that big, patch of dirt. So bring wipes to clean off hands, faces, and knees as necessary.
#9 Bring Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is not usually something I carry around, but when it comes to using a port-a-potty I figured better safe than sorry. Plus, the petting zoos often recommend washing or sanitizing your hands after touching the animals. And after all that play in the fresh air and dirt, the kids tend to be hungry. I’d rather not have animal or potty yuck on their hands when I don’t have running water and soap to work with. Between wipes and hand sanitizer, I figure we get must of the yuck gone.
#10 Bring Water and Snacks
The fresh air does something to our appetites. I never seem to be able to make it home or even to a restaurant before my kids require food. Bringing some with you, even if you leave the snacks in the car, makes everyone happier. And water is a given. With the sun shining and all that running around, water keeps us all happy and healthy.
#11 Bring Sturdy Bags
I went to the pumpkin patch with my son when he was almost 2 1/2 years old. I was also 9 months pregnant. Trying to manage our two pumpkins, my son, diaper bag and my pregnant belly was REALLY difficult. The pumpkin patch we were at had a hayride to the actual pumpkin patch and trying to get in and out just about made me cry. I noticed other people had brought bags with them in order to carry their pumpkins easily. I have not forgotten bags since.
No matter whether you have a hayride or not, having sturdy bags to carry the pumpkins in can help manage end of trip stress and prevent smashed pumpkins and tears all around. Believe me. I’ve been there and done that.
Keeping these tips in mind, you will set yourself up for pumpkin patch success. Happy pumpkin hunting!
What is your favorite pumpkin patch tip? I’d love to read it in the comments!