I think it is the most hilarious thing when people who don’t have kids say how fun and easy it must be to be a stay at home mom. They envision binge watching Netflix while cuddling on the couch all day. Ha! If you are a SAHM or WAHM you know that this is about as far from it as it can possibly get!
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If you are going to be I’m not going to lie to you and make it sound glamorous. It is the absolute best job in the entire world to be a mommy. It is also the absolute hardest job in the world to be a parent. You at some point will be covered in spit up, pee or poop with a screaming child and will question why you ever left the “adult life” to stay at home and then that baby will smile and you will instantly forget all about it. Magic(or love) I tell you!
Anyways, back on track here…SAHM’s do not stay home all day or you and your baby would go crazy. There are so many amazing free and paid activities out there to keep you and your little one social, learning and happy out there. Today I want to share with you all of the great activities I have found out there and how to find them in your area.
Why you should be getting out of the house…
This is something that I am extremely passionate about! It’s very simple really…little brains need to form new connections to learn. Those new connections are formed by seeing, hearing, doing and experiencing new things. If you are home in the same environment all the time you won’t be offering your child as many new connections to encourage that brain development.
Often times I hear people and sometimes my own husband say that kids are too little to enjoy something or that the kids won’t remember it. Well, the first part is not true, kids may really enjoy and learn from any experience while the second part about memory is true it doesn’t mean they won’t take something away from and learn from that experience. So maybe save expensive Disneyland for when they are older but take them to the reasonable street fair in your town because they will learn from it.
On the mom side of things I promise, you will need to get out and talk to other adults. When you spend the whole day with kids you will crave the adult conversation and interactions! A change of scenery can make for a happier mom and baby and a much more enjoyable day as well.
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What activities to do and where to go with your little one…
- Parks/Beaches – This is always my first option! It’s free, the fresh air is great for both of you, there are almost always other kids and moms to watch and interact with. Even if you have a little baby you can go for a walk around the park, slide or swing with baby on your lap, talk about the different animals and scenery to your little one so they can learn all about nature! I promise they are listening and learning from every word that leaves your lips, so don’t feel silly talking to your baby the more you talk the more they learn. The beach is another amazing choice there are so many things to learn at the beach with all the sea life. Try to go for low-tide and wander the tide pools with your little ones. Don’t forget the buckets, shovels and a picnic lunch to make it a great adventure.
- Libraries – The library is free and a great place for social interaction. Most libraries offer different story times options that vary by age (many libraries have family storytime if you have different ages at home). Often these story times include reading, music, crafts and hands-on activities geared toward the right ages, so don’t worry about keeping your little one quiet and still. Don’t forget to bring home some new books and explore the activities offered in the children’s section!
- Mommy and Me Classes – There are mommy and me classes for almost everything you can dream up! They start for birth and go up all the way to elementary school ages. I loved seeing the same group of moms and kids each week and formed some great friendships from these classes. It is so great to share something you love with your little one, the bonding time is really nice! Read more about mommy and me classes here.
- The Mall – Funny huh? Malls are super kid friendly! They almost always have a play area. The food court can make for a nice play and lunch outing. Also, many malls have kid friendly activities… I have seen giant play places, children’s museums, movie theaters, climbing walls, doll salon and cafes, bouncy houses, laser tag, video games, mini golf and more! If you have a little one don’t think you can’t join in the fun, let your little one sit on your lap and watch all the kids running around.
- Kid Cafes – This one is a LOVE for me! These places are genius! They have great food for moms and kids and tons of toys for the kids to play with. So fun to meet up with a friend or take your mom or MIL and you actually get a chance to talk since the little ones have something to play with!
- Children’s Museum – If you have never heard of or been to a children’s museum you have got to check them out! Everything is hands on and meant to be played with. We have quite a few here in the Seattle area and they are really great (one of ours even has a rooftop playground). They offer such rich learning activities for the kids and so much social interaction as well. Many museums host activities, storytime, and other instructor-led options.
- Pools/Spray Parks – In the winter there are some great indoor pools to keep active with your little one. In the summer we love to check out the outdoor pools and spray parks. If you have never heard of a spray park it is basically like a sprinkler park where the kids can run through and play in the water. All ages welcome( you too moms! Feels so nice on a blistering day) and bring the buckets and shovels kids love to fill them up!
- Zoo/Aquarium – We were lucky enough to be gifted a zoo membership so we go all the time! The learning possibilities are endless. Our zoo offers an indoor area for rainy days that has a play place and a ton of learning toys for the kids. We spend a lot of time there in the winter learning about animals and creatures. They also host classes as well. My little ones love the aquarium as well. So much to see and still lots to touch too! Definitely, consider a membership if you think you will go fairly often they end up cheaper in the long run! I always love to remind moms that you can take your infant here to and when they are awake talk about the animals, the colors you see, the sounds you hear. They gain so much from this!
- Seasonal Adventures – In the winter consider heading up to the mountain pass for some snow adventures(I wouldn’t take the tiny ones here for safety reasons). Intertubing, skiing, snowboarding, snow angels, snowman building, snowball fight and don’t forget the hot cocoa after! In the fall head to the local farm to check out the pumpkins, squash, and adventures of life on the farm. In the spring put on your boots and go puddle jumping or check out your local farmers market. In the summer we love to berry pick or go to the local festivals.
- Kids Places – These are the places meant for kids in specific. Think bouncy houses, giant play places, young aged play places, chuckee cheese, Mcdonalds is a great free play place, family fun centers, indoor sports arenas. These will probably be the obvious ones that you already know about, but I figured I better mention them anyways.
- Theater/Art – There are great children’s theaters that host little people friendly afternoon plays with lots of interaction for the kiddos. They keep the shows short and fun and baby can definitely come too! We love to do painting together as well! In our town, we have a ceramic place where you can go and paint a ceramic figure. Lots of fun and you don’t have to clean up the mess!
- Local Play Groups – In our community centers there are lots of options for indoor gym play where they fill a gymnasium with toys( think a ride on, balls, hula hoops, tents) and let the kids play freely. There is also a hosted play group that meets and does group activities including dance, exercise, singing, crafts. Another great option we love is Meetup.com has local listings of mom groups that meet places for group playdates! Lots of fun to connect, make friends and get out of the house.
- Gyms – We love to join in on the open gym at our local gymnastics academy. The kids can bounce, climb, tumble and run to their heart’s content. YMCA is close to our house as well and they offer lots of activities for the kids as well as childcare if I want to work out on my own. I have heard of other gyms offering kids classes, group activities, childcare and even big events as well so be sure to check out your gym.
- Events – Our city and the neighboring city hosts some pretty amazing kid friendly events. Kid concerts in the park, holiday parties, science experiments at the library, magic shows, nature walks in our state parks, music and theater shows, festivals and fairs and much more. So be sure to check your local listings for upcoming events. Often times they are less crowded during the week and some even have a kid friendly specific day.
Where to find activities and events in your town…
I have found so many amazing places to learn and play with kids over the years! Sometimes it takes a little searching to get in the loop on what is available in your community but it will be well worth it when you’re out of the house and enjoying yourselves.
Everywhere you go check out bulletin boards and websites. We found this amazing secret garden at a small local botanical garden where the kids got a lesson on nature, a story, craft and then got to explore the garden, climb on a giant tree knot and build a fairy house in their fairy village( we were there for hours!). So don’t count any place you go out… you never know what you might find!
Here are my top places to find the activities and events…
- Red Tricycle – This is one of the best resources I have found to date! They have different local versions for many cities so hop on their website http://redtri.com/ or check out their local magazine.
- Macaroni Kid – This is a blog that will send you weekly newsletters on what is going on in your town. Some of the really creative events I have discovered here.It is a local mom who runs each branch and so you have your own personal friend in your city searching out all these events for you! Check them out and search your local version http://national.macaronikid.com/
- Seattle’s Child Magazine/Parent Map Magazine – Unless you live in Seattle this won’t help you much but the point is that you probably have a local version in many of the places you go with children. These are the magazines that are sitting in the holders at your local churches, schools, doctors offices and other similar places. http://www.seattleschild.com/ https://www.parentmap.com/
- Other Mom’s – A pretty obvious great resource is of course word of mouth from other moms. Ask your mom friends in your community where they like to go and where they find local events in your town. Feel free to eavesdrop if you hear another mom talking about an event and politely ask when and where it is and how she found out about it. She will probably be excited to tell you her wealth of knowledge…moms are cool like that!
- Your city’s recreation guide – These can be found online at your city website or are oftentimes mailed to you as well. They are packed full of paid and free things to do with kiddos. City prices tend to be pretty fair so you don’t have to break your budget and lots of the events are free as well. You can also pick one up at city hall.
- Bulletin Boards – People must think I am crazy because everywhere I go I take pictures with my phone of bulletin boards! They are packed with flyers for cool events! I love them! Plus they are everywhere you are at the parks, grocery store, Starbucks, doctor, dentist, kid place, mall and any store usually has one! So check them out you may just be surprised what you find.
So there you have it…my secret to finding a million things to do and be a great SAHM who does not stay at home very often. I really do love to get out of the house with my little ones it is so nice to have an activity to break up our day. It is also wonderful to watch my children learn and absorb so much knowledge everywhere we go. I love to hear them tell daddy about the new things they did and learned that day.
It may seem hard to get yourself and the kids out the door but I promise it will benefit you all to get out and explore. The kids will nap better, you will feel happier and the day will be better! Even if it is just a nice walk around your neighborhood sometimes it makes all the difference.
So go enjoy helping your little one for those brain connections and enjoy being out! Then come back here and please share what your favorite things to do in your town are!