Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby its cold outside...

Around St. Louis, the temperature has been in the single digits. But, my fellow mothers (and fathers, who are more likely to be fellows than the mothers), there are plenty of places to go with small children when the weather is bad.

  • Go swimming. Indoors, of course. Free if you're a member of your local Y or rec plex. There's likely a daily fee if you're not a member.

  • Running or rock climbing Last plug for the Y. The one near us has a climbing wall/apparatus for school-age kids. And I'm not certain of their policy for using the indoor track or gym, but give them a call and see if there's a time slot or an age limit.

  • The Playground.There's a nice large one inside the Mills mall. For small kids (I'd say 2-4 years), there's also one in West County Center. Possibly other malls that I don't frequent.

  • Go out for ice cream.The closest McDonalds with an indoor play place to us is in Florissant (Lindbergh just north of 270). Its poor form to play without buying, but a basic ice cream cone runs $1. They also have apple pies, coffee drinks, or healthier yogurt parfaits

  • The Zoo I hear that there's a new indoor area at in the Living World building at the zoo that's not only fun, but free (even if you aren't a member)! And if you're brave enough to run from exhibit to exhibit, there is also the penguin cove, Jungle of the Apes, the reptile house, and the primate house. And with the weather so unfriendly, there's bound to be plenty of the free parking open.

  • Those Other Museums The Magic House, the Science Center, and the City Museum are cool. Cost money, but cool.

  • Running I mentioned that already? This time I mean at the mall. You're not there to shop, so sling the baby, leave the stroller in the car, and give your preschooler some leeway to run (in your sight) up and down the wide (and empty) halls at the mall. It's best to show up when there aren't many shoppers (maybe right as they open on a weekday, or if they have "mall walker" hours), so you aren't allowing your kids to terrorize paying customers. For this activity, any mall will do, with or without a play area (though parking at the far end from a play area and making your kid walk the whole way will help burn off more energy--for both of you!)

  • The Library This one's not a big energy burner, but its fun, and its free. And educational. Just about any day of the week, there is a storytime at some branch of one of the public libraries around town (I once wrote a cheat sheet listing branches, day of week and times). For my kids, there's a tie between the storytime that shows "movies" (book filmstrips--just one in addition to regular stories and crafts, geared to 3-5 year olds) and the storytime that frequently features puppets, songs, and Ring Around the Rosie (a 2-3 year old group). Just bring an empty bag to haul home the dozen books your kids will insist on checking out...

  • Stay Home Yes, we have a finished basement. And a bounce house. And when we roll up the bounce house, the kids have enough running space for wind sprints. But if you aren't so lucky, you have options:
    • Push all the furniture aside, crank the stereo, and have a disco afternoon

    • If you have an unfinished basement, shove all the boxes to one half. Sweep the other side, and bring in the trikes, bikes, maybe even the sandbox. If you have bigger kids, hang netting around the perimeter so they can throw balls. And, I heard a rumor that the St. Louis City public library has large toys--like toddler sleds and trikes and things--that can be checked out for FREE (with a refundable deposit)

    • Wii Fit marathon? :) I bet your 4-year old could totally rock you at hulahooping

    • Build a tent. Drape blankets across the space between the furniture, and crawl around underneath. Opportunities abound for imaginitive play. It used to entertain us for hours as kids...

    • Have your kids raid your closet, your attic, your halloween decorations, or your donate pile for dress-up clothes. They could stage a play, music videos, fashion shows...

  • What. You're still here? I thought those were good ideas. OK. Fine. You could surf the web with your kids--try sites like PBS Kids, Nick Jr, and Noggin.

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