This economy is no fun! And my kids are tired of being cooped up in our house with the cold weather! We need to move our bodies and I need some time to myself while the kids are occupied. I've put together a little list of things we can do for FREE. Oh, how I love that word. FREE.
- Make yourself a to-go cup of coffee, and walk to the park! The park is free, the kids will love it, they will get out the bottled up energy, you will get a little exercise, and can sit and talk with a friend or read a book while they play.
- Go to Ikea! Ikea has a really great children’s play area called Smallville – it is totally free – kids adore playing in the ball pit or coloring or watching a movie, while you can browse the huge store, or even sit with an inexpensive cup of coffee. The kids just have to meet a height requirement (my daughter did when she was almost 3) and be totally out of diapers.
- Take all the cushions off of your couch and let the kids build forts or lay them out and roll around on them. Tell them the carpet is the ‘lava’ and they have to stay on the cushions. They get to exercise their bodies and their minds, and you can have a minute to yourself while they are occupied.
- Make an obstacle course in the back yard. Use a 2x4 on the grass for a balance beam, plastic cups for cones to run around, a towel for a somersault station, even a pool for a dip in the summer! Set up a nice place for you to sit while you can see everything, and let them go at it!
- Plop your kids in the tub with tons of bubbles and toys, put on a hydrating mask, and read a magazine! As long as they are old enough to sit safely, you can enjoy a half hour of “me time”, while right there with them, and they will love the time to play.
- Trade afternoon play dates with friends. On Wednesday, you take all of the kids, on Thursday your best friend takes them all. You each get an afternoon to yourselves for errands or just some alone time. The kids love the chance to play with their friends in a different environment. This works great for date nights, too.
- Check out your community center! Most have great drop in art programs, open gym times, even open swim all for about $1 a kid.
- Go to your local library for free book readings and other events. Kids love to see all of the other kids, and get to hear a new voice read to them. Check out some new books to take home and read together.
- Check out your local book stores for free children’s book readings and craft projects. Most have regularly scheduled readings set up in the children’s section, and special events where the kids can come dressed up and make cool crafts. Here in Portland, The Children’s Place bookstore has great story time events like pirate days or Fancy Nancy parties. Miss Mae and I went to Fancy Nancy all dressed up, and learned how to walk with a banana on our heads and how to lift our pinkies just right when sipping tea. This month Borders is having an inauguration party, a tea party, and a family play date. Barnes and Noble is having ‘Meet Corduroy Bear’ and other story times, as well.
- Check to see if your local library has free tickets to local kids’ attractions. Ours has a passes you can check out to our children’s museum .
- Make friends with your local Parks and Recreation programs. There are free nature walks at neighborhood parks, free craft stations set up around town in the summer, even free music events summer evenings in the parks.
We can make it through this economy! I'm trying to think positive and make sure my kids don't know it is happening so they don't feel the stress of it. I hope you are all doing well - even better than ever!