Pollen season has officially kicked into high gear here in North Carolina. The kids and I are all a little sniffly and as such, we’ve had our fair share of pajama lounging days, especially as the climate shifts effortlessly between blazing heat and freezing snow, leaving us all feeling a little icky. Still, after a little bit of time indoors, staring at the same walls for hours and hours on end, we all started to go a little crazy. We weren’t up for a big adventure to the children’s museum or the playground but we just knew we needed to Get Out of the House. Thankfully, even in our small town, there are plenty of places to go with the kids, even if some are a little non-traditional. Here are five of our favorites.
1. The library.
We go to preschool story time at our local library branch every Thursday. It’s something we all look forward to. I got the kids their own library card as soon as they could hold a marker and “sign” their name and it’s been sheer joy for them to browse the children’s section after their craft, picking out 10 new books each for us to take home and read that week. I’ve also started letting them pick out (free!) movies, which has been a total game-changer. Check and see if your local library offers a similar kid’s program and if you’re able to attend, try it out!
2. The mall.
This one can be a little iffy. I try to schedule my mall visits mid-morning, when the only people walking up and down the wide aisles are retirees trying to get as many steps on their pedometers as possible. I always go with a girlfriend and we keep the kids in our jogging strollers the whole time. With so much going on and so many places for a toddler to duck into, I just like the extra security that another set of eyes provides. From their comfy vantage point, the kids can see out and take in the sights and it doesn’t hurt that we bribe them with a cookie from the food court right as we walk in. Plus, those retirees are onto something. Walking those floors is a great workout!
3. The park.
When the weather permits, there’s nothing like taking the kids to the local park and just letting them run around for a little bit and exert some energy. Take along some snacks or even a picnic lunch and make a day out of it! One of our favorite things to do at our community park is watch the local baseball teams practice or hold scrimmages. It’s free and we get a front row seat to the action!
4. The local nursery.
My kids absolutely adore flowers. I have four rose bushes that are absolutely stunning when in full bloom but I haven’t seen them that way in four years since my oldest started grabbing each bud by the flower as soon as it emerged. To keep my plants intact and cultivate my kids’ love of the outdoors, we’ll often head to the local nursery and I’ll let them explore around a little. Of course, I’m sure to tell them that the plants are just for looking and not for touching but we enjoy making a little scavenger hunt out of it. I’ll ask them to find me a plant with purple leaves, for example, then a flowering shrub with yellow blooms. It’s a great way to sneak in a little learning!
4. The police or fire station.
This is one usually slated for a larger group of parents but if you have enough interest, call and see if your local fire or police station would accommodate a brief tour. If you’ve got children who are interested in this career at all, it will be thrilling to show them an up close and personal view of what really goes on behind the scenes. Most stations are more than happy to show you around granted you come at a time that they’re not super busy. This way, your kids can learn about safety and emergency response from the experts and heroes they admire — bonus points if they get to sit in the special car or truck!
5. The local airport.
This is one of our favorites! Though times have changed and security has tightened and you can no longer just walk into an airport and go down to the terminal, you can still get just as good of a view from a parking lot or a park a few blocks away. Find a good vantage point and find a safe and secure spot to pull over. Then, sit back and look up and watch your children become amazed and enthralled by the larger-than-life main attraction.
Hopefully, the next time the stir-crazy blues hit, one or more of these options will prove viable. Get out, stay safe and soak in these moments together. No matter where you are, together is the best place to be.