Sunday, 15 January 2017

Top 10 Indoor Outings for Kids

Oh hey friends! Welcome to the first post in this New Year's series, Mom Tip Mondays

Some of these posts might be practical and some definitely won't be but lately I've felt a little influenced by the weather (read: eating all the things and letting my kids have way too much TV time)I don't know about you, but some days, getting the kids into fourteen layers of mittens for ten minutes outside just ain't gonna happen, so I thought I'd rustle up a few outings that we moms can take that will help us keep our sanity while keeping our toes warm. 
Since I live in a polar icebox from November to March and get just a *tad* down about winter every year, I need to remember that it is possible to have fun with kids even when it's too cold for all the winter fun outside. So next time you're hiding behind the bathroom door from little hands, breathe, brush your teeth and get out of the house! Whether it's a free afternoon or one that costs a little bit of cash, your sanity children's development is worth putting on a pair of pants (or at least a different pair of leggings).

So, today, for Mom Tip Monday...


Here are my top 10 Indoor Outings for Kids.

1. The Library.

I know. There are only so many books you can read but between the trip, the choosing, the play area and if you time it right, the story hour or craft time, you can tire your little bookworm out faster than I can say "Robert Munsch."

Pros: It feels educational and it's free.

Cons: If you have a tazmanian devil toddler with a short attention span and great vocal chords,

2. Swimming.

Nothing tires kids out like splashing around and often, the pool is in the same building as an indoor playground or a library! Bonus!

Pros: This definitely counts as bathtime.  

Cons: Hauling towels, swim equipment and wrangling slippery wet offspring at the same time.

3. The Mall.

Consumerism has its downsides but when your kids can run back and forth down heated hallways at all hours of the day, the mall becomes more and more appealing. Throw in a dollar store and an ice cream cone and your child will think they're out with Grandma. Plus, most malls have a semi-non-disgusting play area to swap germs with new friends.

Pros: It's convenient, it's free and your kids will not be the most obnoxious ones there.

Cons: If you're germ conscious, the play area/food court/washrooms might be your worst nightmare. If you like buying things, the shiny stores might be your bank account's worst nightmare.

HOT TIP: If you can't handle the mall, at least hit up a pet store! Pet some kittens, check out the fish and peruse the gerbils. Your kids will love it. 

4. Drop-in Gymnastics/Indoor Recreation Areas.

Most trampoline and gymnastics studios have drop-in times for tots, toddlers and kids. I haven't found a better place to let the kids tire themselves out for a few dollars. Similar to gymnastics studios, many indoor soccer facilities and leisure centers offer a weekly drop-in toddler rave. Picture a large echoing space with many dodgeballs and wheeled toys and you've got a fair idea of what's about to go down.

Pros: Kid exhaustion = naptime possibility. You'll hit your fitbit steps, guaranteed.
Children running and shrieking is the norm.

Cons: Chasing your children over rope structures may leave you a little frazzled. Also, that smell of stale urine that just lingers there.
Children running and shrieking is the norm.

5. Indoor Playgrounds.

Since these are the just the slightly more expensive and regulated versions of the last two suggestions, you might wonder why I've included them. For some reason, those disgusting ball pits and winding tunnels are like gold to small children. You can also usually buy snacks and sit in a comfortable chair while your kids play Lord of the Flies Slides.

Pros: The kids have a blast.

Cons: If your kid decides not to come down or gets stuck on a fourth floor platform, you'll be Mission Impossible-ing past fifth grade bullies to find your wailing whippersnapper.
Even if you drink hand sanitizer, you're not getting there without pink-eye.

6. Museums/Conservatories.

A zoo is always good too.
If you're lucky enough to have a children's museum or science center nearby, then I don't think I have to explain why that is absolutely amazing, but even a regular old museum will do.
Don't feed the animals.

Agriculture? Kids love climbing tractors! 

Planes? VROOM! 

Plants? YUM! (just kidding. Sort of).

If you've discovered a larger kid running track than a museum, complete with water fountains, bathrooms and semi-clean floors, let me know.

Pros: Sounds really educational when you say "we're going to the museum."

Cons: Might be really educational.

7. Mom's Groups.

I'm a little bit on the introverted side (read: we don't need to be friends just because we both created offspring) but if you throw in an activity, coffee and childcare, I feel we suddenly have A LOT in common. Maybe you're lucky enough to have a MOPS group in your community or you've found a church group to join, but either way, getting out of the house once a week and interacting with fellow humans might just do you some good.

Pros: Childcare. Coffee.

Cons: Wearing pants. Socializing.

8. The Gym.

Stay with me, people. If you can find a gym you like with childcare, it is the best motivation for fitness I have ever experienced. Believe me, actually working out is not the hard part; GOING to the gym is the hard part. Once you get there and drop off wee Apple and Summer Rain, you can zumba to your heart's content, pump iron or nap in the change room. I like to call that "slow-flow-yoga."

Pros: Childcare, possibility of exercise.

Cons: Possibility of exercise.

9. Ikea.

If you are blessed enough to live near one of these glorious furniture outlets, you have found the holy grail of parenting. Not only do you have the option to drop your kids off in the play area or allow them to explore a giant warehouse of playhouses, but lunch will cost you $4 for a family of six (ish) and a few trendy kitchen utensils (because who can resist those?).

If you're not lucky enough to have that blue and yellow bastion of sanity, even a grocery store will do. Most of them offer free cookies (or some healthy substitute) and confined to a cart, most kids can't reach more than $60 worth of snack food at a time from the shelves. You're right, it's no IKEA.

Pros: From organization tools to a stuffie for Junior, IKEA will make everyone happy. 

Cons: If you come home with a new bedroom set and 6 bookcases, you've gone too far.

10. McDonald's.

Bear with me, healthy parents. If you are horrified by the idea of your children ingesting nuggets, you can actually just purchase the Happy Meal TOY, a decent cup of coffee and hang out in the play area. 

Pros: Your kids will be pleased with their new hunk of plastic, you will be caffeinated and as your cherished cherubs develop robust immune systems in the play area, you can buy a second excellent coffee for the price of under one Starbucks hit.

Cons: You may end up eating a lot of fries. Is that really a downside?

At the end of the day, winter is long and whatever you need to do to get you and your family through these dreary days, do it.  The sun will come up tomorrow and until then, chin up. The days are getting longer and pretty soon, the streets will be so slushy you'll be reminiscing about those cozy days by the fire. So whether it's hitting up a friend for babysitting trades or just putting the family in the car and driving as far south as your bank account will allow for as long as possible, we can do this! 

What did I miss? What are your favourite indoor activities to get you through the cold snaps or the rainy days? Leave your mom tips below and why not share this article with a mom who might be running short on inspiration this season?

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