Justin and I would like to think we are really starting to develop a nice list of "go-to" activities for the kids that are very enriching. I hope when they grow older and look back on their childhood they will remember all the wonderful things we did together as a family. We've had such success with several of our activities, I thought I might share!
1. Aquarium/Natural History Museum - We call it the aquarium/museum, but you may know it better as Bass Pro Shop. I'm not sure if all stores have a massive fish tank, but ours does and it keeps the kids' attention for a LONG time. Plus there are stuffed animals all over the store (bears, deer, birds, etc) that they love to see. This is a great opportunity to teach them about the various animals and/or make up stories that entertain them. Added bonus - they love to try out the four wheelers and boats. Free way to spend two hours with two little ones. Just be prepared when your two year old is upset that he can't take a boat home with him.
2. Indoor Amusement Park - Commonly known as the Chick-fil-a play place. Ok, maybe it's not an amusement park, but it is indoors and the kids can go crazy playing all over it. Plus, if you go on a Monday morning, rarely are there other kids there and they offer free coffee for the parents. If you're like me, free coffee is all the incentive you need.
3. Construction Site Play-by-Plays - We are lucky enough to live close to a university that has no shortage of construction projects. Jackson loves nothing more than to watch the diggers and cranes do their work, while relaying to us all that he sees and knows. Even Summerlin gets excited now when she sees the machines. Added bonus - plenty of space to run around without having to worry about traffic.
4. Record Setting Track Meets - Not watching a track meet, but creating our own. I like to see how long it can take us to make one loop around the track. Pretty sure we could set a world record for slowest 400m ever completed. Each lap involves detours into the jump and steeple pits and maybe the occasional walk across the "balance beam" (i.e. steeple barrier). Added bonus - it wears them out.
5. One Stop Shopping - Ok, so we don't actually do any shopping. I'm referring to the fact that our library has a small park and train tracks right next to it. There used to be a fire station, but they built a fancy new one and closed the small old one in October. It's been months and we've gone about every two weeks, but Jackson still has a melt down everytime we go because the firestation is gone. The last few times the meltdown has been in the car before we even got there because he remembers that it is gone and isn't a big fan of that fact. But he gets over it after we get into the library and check out several firetruck books - followed by the fact that he is then distracted by the fact the playground has a "fire pole" and we usually see a train or two while playing.
6. Nature Observatories - Noland Trail, Sandy Bottom Park (which does have an legitimate free nature center), our own backyard - you get the idea. Just go outside and let them explore. I'm constantly amazed by the things they find and activities/games they create for themselves.
Who says you need lots of money to keep kids entertained?! We do pretty good without spending a dime!