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Need ideas for getting away from paying for entertainment

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure I worded the title well, but here's my problem. I stay at home with my 2 y.o. dd and one on the way. I find myself using stores and going out to eat as entertainment for us. We live in a suburb just minutes from a big city, so there is plenty of free entertainment here, I just keep getting sucked into last minute fixes. I cook dinner every night, so I am good about food, I just find myself out and wanting to eat out for the experience of not being stuck home. Could you help me list all of the ideas for free entertainment and maybe some fun lunch ideas to keep me happy with being home?

Thanks so much.
post #2 of 13
What about a picnic?

I too live in an area like you describe. I have a zoo membership so I go there a lot. Also go to playgrounds, and I sometimes drop my kids at the Y's childcare (we are members) and I just put up my feet and read a book by the poolside.

Dh and I will sometimes walk the malls and not spend money.

If I go out, I have to remember to pack enough snacks. When I get the munchies when out, that's when I start spending $.
post #3 of 13
When I was in highschool I baby sat for a couple who volunteered at our city's playhouse as ushers. They got to see the plays for free this way.

I don't know if you were talking about date things or family things (this is probably not something for the whole fam).
post #4 of 13
Oh, I thought of another thing- is there a university near you? There is a big one by us that always has inexpensive/free arts events. We also go to coffee shops with free live music on a lot of weekends.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Good ideas, thanks. Yes, I have an enormous, like the 3rd biggest in the USA, university literally 5 minutes from my house. I guess maybe I just need to reach out. Call around. All the things listed in the paper seem to be for 3years and above. But, I bet there are plenty of things for us to do. I get sick of endless library store hours if you KWIM.

Picnic is on the schedule for next week, now if it will stay about 40, we will go to the zoo also.
post #6 of 13
Well, DH is the SAH parent in our house. But he likes to get DD out of the house as often as possible - they both get a little stircrazy.

- Walks around the neighborhood are good.

- Our Parents As Teachers has Baby Bounce (for little ones) and Jump, Jog, & Jingle (for toddlers) at the local libraries. You might want to call all the local libraries or check their websites to see what sort of programs they offer. Parents As Teachers may be a good separate resource; they have "Make And Take" days here, where you go in to make a toy.

- Grab brochures about the local museums/attractions. A lot of them have a free day every month or week.

- See if you local papers or chamber of commerce has a 'what's going on' email list, and sign up for it. Or make it a habit to check the entertainment section. I agree that Universities would be a good option too.

February is Black History Month. While a lot of the events are probably suitable for teens/adults only, there may be some free family friendly events - musical or dance performances for example.

Good luck.
post #7 of 13
-Nature walks
-Free outdoor concerts
-coffee shops often have music on weekend nights
-community cultural events
-Make regular grocery shopping into an outing by visiting farmers markets or local farms/orchards. I know this isn't free, but you have to buy groceries anyway.
post #8 of 13
The library for movie "rental" it is free, just takes gas and a card.
post #9 of 13
Independent children's bookstore story time - ours is far better than the library story hour.

Major chain bookstore story time; some offer activities and games. You can grab a magazine and read it for free while your little one listens (depending on attention span of child).

Independent toy store has free story time with activities, and a monthly free party if you attend all month. Also inexpensive crafts aimed at little ones.

Train tables - free to play with at toy stores and major chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble.

Independent toy stores often have several toy displays for playing with. We would go and just hang out.

Walk. I think this is the best thing you can do with your child. Observe nature and get to know your neighborhood.

Get a membership to a children's museum.

Find a short nature walk at a park, in the mountains, etc.

Walk at a botanical garden.

I personally choose not to just hang out at the mall with my children; I don't want to teach them that shopping is recreation.

Edited to add: Some libraries, parks, etc. have fountains. When my boys were little these were of endless delight.

Also, we have a park with a duck pond. I took them there often when they were little. Nothing beats watching ducklings in the spring!
post #10 of 13
Library! Library! Library!

Lots of great ideas on here. I second checking out what is going on at the local university. Usually they have free or cheap stuff for students and the cost is not much more for community members. We recently had Jane Goodall speak for free to the community. Also, in the summer around here there are free concerts in several of the towns. We could probably go to something 3 times a week if we wanted.

Is there a local nature center by you? We used to live by one that was awesome and open all day. They had a big window and bird feeders. I could sit there for hours.
post #11 of 13
KimderMama and Woodchuck - you take me back to when my kids were little! We used to go to the library all the time and there was a botanical gardens within a few blocks. Those were great ways to get out with the kids.

Also, what about a playgroup. They get to play and you get to see other adults. I met a wonderful woman (actually I saw she wrote an article about playing in a recent Mothering issue) in the park when our oldests were about 7 moths old. They became fast friends and we got together throughout the next 2 years. We shared our next pregnancies which happened about the same time and then those two used to play together. We moved away about 2 years later, but that meeting was golden! I never saw other adults except for those playdates!
post #12 of 13

What a great thread! I second the motion for playgroups.
I have met a great bunch of women at the local playgroups I attend.
I live in Vancouver, BC---we have a ton of free playgroups---most of them are run through local rec. centers. We also do storeytime once or twice a week--
If it's nice out we are definetly at the park or on a walk.
We also have lots of playdates with the moms/kids that go to the local playgroups.
Sometimes we will spend $3.50 to go to the indoor play place called "Going Banana's" We save that for weeks that have been really gross outside.
post #13 of 13
Yes, I second the library for borrowing free DVDs, videos, CDs and books, of course. And our library has great free childrens programs. I also keep tabs on what the surrounding town libraries have going on for kids. Last month we went to a music program at one, and now we're going to Time for Tots every Wednesday morning for stories, songs and a craft - FREE!

Our town has a few conservation areas with walking trails.

Our mall has a play area for kids in the food court, but I second a PP which said she didn't want her kids to think of shopping as enterainment. DS is already in love with french fries and they're right there near the play area. Argh.

We know where all the good playgrounds are near us.

I belong to a mom's club in town which has activities throughout the month, usually free. And we also go to a weekly homeschooling group where my DS plays with other toddlers in a playroom, while I get to talk to other parents.

Playdates are also free and fun, especially if they are at someone else's house. Ha ha!
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