I'm one of those moms who doesn't believe you need to sign your baby up for pricey activities to ensure a healthy and enriching upbringing. Let's face it, there are a lot of programs available that were not around when we were little. Gymboree, Karate lessons for 2 year olds, Mandarin Chinese as a 2nd language for tots, and the list goes on.
I once read that the single most important thing you can do with your baby/child is READ TO THEM. That's it. And it doesn't matter what. You can read them the side effects brochure from your Xanax scrip if you want.
So, I always read to my kids. They will sit for hours on end with books (they take after Daddy). It's a beautiful thing.
There are other FREE things you can do with kids which will help them to use all their senses, exercise their bodies and brains and give you a needed outing as well.
1. Hit the local library. Here you will find story times for your tots, special art, music and science programs, all for nothing. Take advantage of free DVD rentals for you too!
2. Public playgrounds/Parks/Bike paths: Hopefully you live in a place where there is one of these. Fresh air, free exercise.
3. The supermarket. I know, I know, the Pea Pod delivery guy and you are FB friends. But taking babies and bigger kids to the market can be great fun (as long as it's not 10pm at night.) The produce section alone is an educational goldmine. Kids love to explore, touch and learn about new foods. It's pure eye candy for them! And it might inspire them to try something new, for once. It also teaches them to be patient while you shop. (Hey kid, this is life, deal with it!)
**However, if you really need a timeout, then go alone***
(If you are worried about what to do with a roaming baby/toddler once you get home with all the groceries, simply put them in a pack n' play or highchair, strapped in, while you tote all the goodies inside.)
4. Picnic in your backyard. Get the blankie out, lay out the lunch and punch. Just sit and listen to the birds, watch the butterflies, the clouds, play tag, turn on the Slip n' Slide. All free, all fun.
5. Check out MacaroniKid for local listings of many free events for kids.
6. Lastly, leave the guilt at the door if you wish you could afford to sign your kids up for xyz. They will not remember when they are 43. But they will remember the time you spent with them gazing up at the clouds, watching worms and baking cookies.
What kind of fun free stuff do you do with your kids? I know my list can use some company.....