As a new-ish mum, I spent a lot of time looking up places I could take Ellie for us to get out of the house, and in order for us to socialize. I wanted Ellie to be around her peers, I wanted her to interact, socialize, and learn skills such as sharing (she is young and we are still working on this always). These skills I feel she wouldn’t be able to learn very well if we stayed home all the time.
I also wanted to get out and socialize for my sanity! When Ellie was first born I was learning the ropes in my new role as a mum and the days seemed to fly by. With getting the hang of breastfeeding, soothing and rocking her for naps, changing her, bathing her, and encouraging tummy time the first few weeks went by easily. It was when Ellie started dropping naps and having longer wake windows that I found it harder to keep her entertained.
We needed to get out!
At home, she had many toys we had brought or been gifted by family and friends, but she would seem bored at times. This was starting to take its toll and make the day drag on. Before when she would nap I could tidy and nap myself, they say to always nap when your baby does and I sure did love napping back when I could. All these things meant by the time I had gotten myself and Ellie together for the day my husband was home and the evenings we spent together as a family so he could get his Ellie time.
Now I was needing to find things to fill my time, as a stay at home mum I was looking for free (not including fuel to get to and from) to inexpensive things I could do with Ellie.
Favorite free places
The first thing I had tried with Ellie was Story Time and I talk more about that and the benefits of going in my blog post – Story Time. This is also the first place I met good mum friends that I know I will be friends with until we are all old and gray!
After having tried Story Time the next play place we tried was baby gymnastics. Many of the local gymnastic centers in our area have free baby gym times, this is half an hour to an hour of open play for babies 4 months until walking. We had gone to the baby gymnastic closes to where we lived and loved it! Once Ellie was walking we were sad to no longer have this in our weekly routine. They do have open plays a few days a week which is $10 for 2 hrs, this is very reasonable for every now and again. Personally, for $10 a week I wouldn’t go weekly to the same place, I would try different places weekly at this price point, especially in the winter. I feel this would become a stagnant place with Ellie not enjoying herself and appreciating her time there if we were to go weekly.
We have visited a few mall open play areas, However with these being smaller if it’s a busy time these places quickly become overrun with older children so we don’t stop often. I also don’t find myself at malls often recently, though this can be a great place to mall stroll if the weather isn’t great.
We’ve also been to a hand full of designated play places, these are places that have sections for different ages usually a crawler section, toddler section, and then a “big” kid play area. The ones in our area range from $6-$12, or the ones we’ve visited anyway, they have all also had punch cards were after attending so many times you get a free play. These cards are great as when the weather isn’t great if you find yourself visiting these places often you will most likely be able to take advantage of these passes, honestly we are yet to!
Our favorite play place we had visited is a children’s museum, we went recently for one of Ellie’s friends birthdays and everyone had a blast! We visited KidsQuest in Bellevue, Wa. There were many rooms and areas with different themes and they even had an area for 0-3 which seems like it is great if you had to younger kids close in age to not have to worry about anyone escaping.
There was a playshop, farm animals, toy trains, building blocks, atrium climber, and a water playroom which seemed to be everyone’s favorite! Museums can get expensive if you pay per visit and go a couple of times it’ll add up. However most places like this over a membership, these usually are the cost if you were to go a handful of times. I enjoy memberships knowing if I was to go a minimum of every two months I wouldn’t lose out on any money and if we go more then its a bargain! With so much interactive play and so much to do in the time we were there we weren’t able to do everything before we had to leave for nap time. We will be going back!
Do you have a favorite play place in your area? If you’re in Washington state and have any other suggestions leave them in the comments were always looking for new places to explore!