I can easily name 7 parks in my city. They are great places for your child to burn off steam and surprisingly, can be a great place for you to teach your child about the outdoors and safety. It's also a great place to meet other parents from the city. I've learned about local, free events to take Michael to from some of the people that we meet. Most parks also have a walking loop that is approximately 1 mile long. Buckle your kid up and do some laps before you burn more calories chasing toddler around the play area. Your mind AND body will thank you.
But with the cold weather approaching, you may want an indoor option to your park play. Try searching for an indoor gymnastics gym that has a "free play" option. For just $3-$5 (for about 1-2 hours,) your child can enjoy the same benefits of the park, just indoors.
I'm going to be brutally honest here and say that Gymboree was a complete waste of money for us. But only because I felt that the specific class we signed up for wasn't right for Michael. Our class consisted of a teacher with about 25 toddlers, each with a parent. It was pure chaos. While a quarter of the class paid attention, another group was screaming, and another group of toddlers (including Michael) ran a muck around the Gymboree play area. If I wanted that for my son, I could easily bring him to a park and save the $70/month (yes, its that much). The only upside was the free play times that the class had to offer, but again, not worth the $70 to us.
My father-in-law introduced us to Kindermusik because he found a Living Social deal. When we received it, I immediately called, asking only 1 question- Are you like Gymboree? The instructor (or maestro as they like to be referred to) said with absolute confidence- NO! The great thing about Kindermusik, or our class at least, is that the instructor limits her class to no more than 9 kids. With this, she's able to focus on optimizing each student's learning experience. It's held in her private studio, giving your child a safe, fun, learning environment where as a parent, you don't have to constantly be on edge that your son will leap from the highest ledge of the playground. You even get a musical instrument, books from that specific semester or class series, a CD, and tons of online material. After just 5 classes (we got a free introductory class,) I feel like Michael has learned so much.
Now the basics. It's $60/month for a 45 min class a week. We had to do some tweaking to our monthly budget to help fit in this class, but we were more than happy to do so. You're not locked in to paying per year and they have great options for parents who just can't commit for whatever reason.
I first found out about my local MOMS Club by Googling "Mom meet up." The membership to some MOMS Clubs are typically around the $25 mark. But that is PER YEAR. I've enjoyed the MOMS Club because it gives me yet another daily option to get Michael and myself out of the house and enjoy the company of moms with kids in my area. Most events take place locally too and during the morning hours, saving us the hassle of getting stuck in traffic. The holiday parties are the best. So are the service projects that you and your kids get to participate in. You can even host your own event. I try to make it out to one play date a week and host one a month. But like all things, I've learned that the MOMS Club is what you make out of it. If you want the most out of it, be sure to put the time into it. And it just so happens today is our host day.
Michael & I haven't gone to a storytime in quite some time, only because our library switched the schedule to an afternoon storytime. But these free events are awesome, fun, and usually have some sort of arts & crafts activity at the end to help incorporate lessons from the stories read. Barnes and Noble bookstores also have them. And if your local library or bookstore doesn't, suggest it. They are more than welcome to add this event to their calendar. They probably just needed someone to show interest.
This is one of my favorite websites!-
Macaroni Kid and its family of Publisher Moms are dedicated to delivering the scoop on all the family-friendly events and activities happening in their communities each week. Check out Macaroni Kid’s list of communities and sign up to receive your free weekly newsletter.Did you know that Lowe's offers free classes to toddlers on most Saturdays? Did you know the Lego store does too? I didn't either. But I've learned about this as well as other free events simply by clicking the city that I'm from. I also am able to search cities surrounding mine, giving me even more options of how we would like to spend our weekdays and weekends.
Another one of my favorite websites. Some days, you can't just make it out of the house. Tot School helps you and your toddler plan your day through fun play at home. Much like Pinterest, it gives us parents some focused ideas on how we can make play time a great learning time. And bonding time. The website also has tools to help keep your learning play time organized.