Thursday, November 19, 2009

Go Mommy Go - on the cheap!

It sometimes seems to me like SAHMs do just that...stay home! I understand (believe me) how difficult it is to get yourself and multiple small children dressed, pottied, fed, and out the door. Sometimes I feel like just staying home too, but I always regret it. Cabin fever quickly sets in with my 90 mph 2 year old and with myself as well. If you ask me, hiding in the house is a sure recipe for both mommy and baby meltdowns. Hence the Go Mommy Go! In an effort to give you some ideas on the cheap, here a my top 5 child-friendly, FREE outings: 1. Library, library, library! Big surprise coming from a librarian huh? Seriously though, the library is a mommy's (and a community's) best friend. My library in particular does something for children every day, and I mean every day! Crafts, story times, therapy dogs, mommy and toddler aerobics and music classes, you name it. I understand that some libraries do not host this many activities and if yours doesn't, ask them why. You might show them an under-served population they haven't considered before. Also, there is always a fellow mommy in the children's area desperate for a play date for herself and her children...bonus! 2. Playgrounds. If you're local to Norman, stay tuned as I like to "review" the many options in this town. Playgrounds and local parks are cheap (as in free) and you can visit all the ones in your area, so it's like a new trip all of the time. Especially fun in the fall when your toddler will love cavorting in the falling leaves. I'm also discovering indoor playgrounds in unexpected areas, like those humongo churches (also free and open to the public) and of course the local mall if you can take the cooties (I typically decide I CAN around mid-January). In my town there is even a great play center at the local car dealership, although I suspect it's a trap. 3. Ponds. Found in many subdevelopments, parks, and college campuses these are treasure troves of ducks, cat-tails, algae, and other such strange and fascinating goodies for toddlers. Pack a loaf of bread for ducks and geese, or for yourself if your feeling snacky! Warning: geese are often larger and more aggressive than the average 3 year old, tread lightly and when charged, toss the bread and run! Speaking of college campuses, they are also mine-fields of public art, some of it really fun and climb-able and a great way to introduce your kiddo to "culture." 4. Pet stores. I know this one sounds crazy but for a 2 year old, this can be as good as the zoo and usually requires much less travel, money, and planning. Seriously, these places now days have tank after tank of colorful fish, froggies, snakes, kitty cats, a menagerie of animals all waiting to be visited. They don't charge admission and if you happen to need dog food, you can chalk it up to two activities at once! 5. Farmer's Markets. In my town this is very seasonal, but still an option for 6 months out of the year. There are almost too many benefits of this one to list. Yes, it's not free if you buy something but you would be surprised about the selection and value of foods you buy at the grocery store anyway. You are supporting your local economy, teaching your children about healthy eating habits, learning about what your area has to offer from potatos to soaps, flowers, and flour. And you're showing your children a lifestyle and a people that sadly probably won't be around for much longer. My daughter loves to look at all of the vegetables and wave to the farmers. Children can really learn about where their food comes from and find more of a connection to it. Plus, those farmers love little ones! Don't be surprised if you come away from there with a free tomato or mini pumpkin :>) Those are my tips for the day. I realize that many of them require being outdoors and that winter is descending upon us. Stay tuned for tips on keeping kiddos happy and yourself sane during the not so sunny months. Maybe we should write to Starbucks about indoor play areas!

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