Every parent of a toddler has an “I need to get out of the house” moment (or many moments)!
I have a high needs toddler who is almost 3 and a very active almost 1 year old. If we stay in our house for too long we go absolutely crazy. All of us! My almost 3 year old doesn’t nap and my almost 1 year old may nap for 40 minutes a day (yes, that’s ALL day) so we have a lot of time to fill. Our routine normally consists of getting up, getting ready and getting out of the house as quick as we can. We come back for a rest/quiet time around lunch time and then are back out in the afternoon.
As you can see, that leaves a LOT of time to fill in the day (which is why I started this blog!). While I’d love to spend our time out of the house doing extravagant (expensive) things, our budget is limited (as I imagine most people’s budget is) . Below are 5 of our staple ‘FREE’ ‘Get out of the house’ activities.
1. The library
Don’t underestimate the value of your local library. Ours (and others I’ve visited) are for more than just borrowing books. Our library has an excellent children’s area with cushions, teddy bears to cuddle and little kid sized tables and chairs for them to sit at. They have books (obviously!) but also all of the latest kids DVD’s, CD’s and magazines. Most even have eBooks that you can download from home (check with your local library for details of how to access this), that will automatically delete from your device after the ‘loan time’ of 2 weeks.
We like to reserve a lot of books online so they are ready to pick up when we get there. This means that we have the latest ‘trendy’ books like Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, or sometimes we’ll chose a theme and reserve a selection of books on one topic. This week we looked at books with an under water theme. You can read our list of chosen books here. The kids also love browsing and selecting their own. If they have a self checkout, that’s even better. You can’t explain the excitement a toddler gets from scanning his or her own library books out. They love it!
Most libraries will also offer activities like Rhyme Time for babies or Story Time for older children. Ours even offers a fortnightly toddler time with dancing and singing. All FREE! My kids LOVE a trip to the library.
2. The Park
We are lucky to live near a lot of great parks, but in my experience most people live close to a park of some kind. If I ask my 2 year old what she wants to do today, her answer is always, “Go to the Park”. Always! We live in an area where we have easy access to beaches, theme parks and play centers, but she will always choose the park. Good, old fashioned outdoor fun. Don’t limit yourself to the playground. Go on a treasure hunt, look for animals, collect some leaves, take a snack and have a picnic, jump in puddles, take your trike/bike or walk your dog at the park. The options are endless … and FREE!
3. Visit the shops
Ok, now I know I said free activities, so a little willpower by Mum or Dad is needed here, but a visit to the shops can be a great free activity. Trust me, we do this a lot. We walk around and look at the toy sections of department stores (OK, I sometimes let them play with the toys too!), we visit the book shop and find books that we would like to borrow from the library, and we take our own snacks and sit in the food court and eat them (even better if your food court has a nice view). Some shopping centers even have a play ground. We love those ones!
If you live in a very hot/very cold climate it is also a great way to enjoy the air conditioning or heating when the weather is not great outside.
4. Go for a walk
Most kids are happy to be out of the house – they don’t mind where you go. Take a bike/trike/dog/wagon, anything really, with you to make the walk a little bit different. Drive to a new location and walk from there. Give your kids a list of things to look for on their walk, or a basket to collect interesting leaves,rocks or other items they find along the way. Go on a color hunt (ask them to find everything Yellow) or give them some numbers or letters that they have to find along the way (numbers on mailboxes works really well).
5. Visit a friend
The chances are high that you have a friend or relative with kids as well. Give them a visit. You don’t even need to plan any activities – a houseful of new and different toys to play with, along with a friend to play with and your job is done. Sit back and have a coffee! (Oh if only it was that easy, but you know what I mean). We alternate between a few friends houses and this is always a winner with the kids and the parents.
Do you have an activity that you like to do to ‘Get out of the house?’ Share it in the comments below.