Monday, November 10, 2014

cheap thrills (free everyday things to do with your toddler)

While Fall brings on such warm fuzzies, what it doesn't offer is free outdoor entertainment for the little rascals.  One of the biggest challenges that we parents face in the Fall/Winter time is how to keep our kids busy/entertained without being confined to our homes AND without breaking the bank.   I love the aquarium as much as any other kid, but I don't love shelling out $80+ for every visit. The simplest solution?  Make every small outing into the biggest adventure.

Cheapest way to cute a tantrum #southportcorridor #cheapthrills #lifewithatoddler
Sounds silly, but it's true that even the most mundane everyday thing that we do as adults is so exciting to our little friends.  While we may not see the entertainment of it all, it's all about delivery and how special you make these activities feel that will have you believing that it's another adventure.  So what are these simple things you ask?  Well here's my short list.

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  • Riding public transportation:  Buses, trains, subways and monorails - oh my! While sometimes taking public transportation can be a little tedious this is the best fun-venture your kids will have.  Especially if your kid (like mine) is obsessed with trains and buses.  For a small cost of $2(ish) per person you can spend the entire day riding the bus from one end of the city and back.  Or in our case we can take several loops around the city, capturing the best view of the city's skyline from the comfort of a heated el car.  While we mostly rely on taking public transportation to take us from place A to place B (most of the time while we're in a rush) this is a chance for you to sit back, relax and just literally enjoy the ride without the stress of having to be somewhere at an immediate time.
  • Grocery shopping:  These days we ONLY shop at grocery stores with car carts.  No really - we do.  On days where we don't have anything but errands planned we spend an hour (sometimes more) grocery shopping, going through every aisle because as long as Liam is riding a car cart he's fully entertained.  He gets his jollies pretending to drive a race car, yellow taxi, police car or if it's a good day and we get lucky, a red fire engine.  It's a win/win for everyone, accomplishing all the grocery shopping without the rush of having to grab and go.
  • Venturing to a mall in the suburbs:  City shopping isn't like suburb shopping because malls are just different.  Quite honestly this is the ONLY time I wish we lived in the suburbs because indoor malls have a dedicated play area for kids.  It's a free, indoor play area where your little one can burn off some energy, while you replenish yours with a cup of java and on a cheat day maybe an Auntie Anne's pretzel.
  • Visiting the pet shop: Remember how much I said I love going to the aquarium?  Well thank you PetSmart and Petco for housing a plethora of fish for sale which helps to re-create that aquarium feeling.  You literally can spend hours in the fish area of these stores not only observing the different fish, but also making a game out of it.  "I spy a (insert a color) fish" happens to be one of our favorites, but you can even going around counting them making it educational and fun.  Bonus points if you end up going on a day with a pet adoption event.  Then you've really hit the jackpot!
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While these activities won't cure the winter blues and will only eat up a fraction of hours during the season, it will help pass the time.  In between your pre-planned activities and the occasional "real' family adventures, these everyday options are a great way to keep your little one active.

|What are some of your free everyday things you like to do with your little ones?|

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