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Top 3 Resources for Getting Out and About with Young Kids

Very, very soon I’m going to find myself in the precarious position of being a mom to a 2 year old and a 1 year old.  To be honest, I’d say we’ve actually been managing activities, nap times, and errands pretty well since S arrived into the world.  For some reason, though, the thought of having two kiddos only a year apart kinda freaks me out!

 

This is partly because it can be a challenge to find appropriate activities that are fun and engaging for both of my little ones.  But believe me, find them we will – the very last thing I want to do is be cooped up in the house all day with these little monsters go-getters.  So, today I’m sharing with you my top 3 resources for getting out of the house with young toddlers and babies.

 

1. Kid Cafes

There’s a new breed of coffee shop popping up all over the country that’s perfect for parents of young children.  These kid cafes are part coffee shop for mommy and daddy, part play zone for the kids.  The best shops are set up with zoned off play areas so you can sit with your coffee, and maybe even partake in some wi-fi, while the kids go crazy with the new toys.
In the Seattle area there are three that I’m familiar with (there are probably many more that I’m not): Tot Spot Cafe (pictured above), The Village Bean, and Twirl Cafe.  A Google search should help you locate spots like this in your neck of the woods.  Click through for my other top 2 resources.


 
2. Local Family Event Blogs

Although I don’t necessarily consider myself a “mommy blogger”, I am most definitely a mom who blogs.  As such, it should come as no surprise that I often consult the blogosphere to help me with parenting dilemmas and in this case my fellow bloggers didn’t let me down.
FreePlay Kids is a wonderful new blog solely devoted to family friendly events around Seattle that are either free or “less than a latte”.  Just two days ago I was on the site looking for a play date activity for us and a new mom friend.  I found a free planting and gardening event for young kids at a local park/petting zoo and we all had a great time.
If you don’t live in Seattle, I’m sure there are plenty of similar blogs out there for cities all over the country.  Just go to google blog search and search under your city’s name and key words like “free kid activities”.  Parent Map and Macaroni Kids are two national parenting blogs I follow that feature local family events.  Red Tricycle is also a good one for those of you in a major west coast city.

 

3. Toddler Parks

I didn’t realize until I had little kids that there are actually parks built specifically with them in mind.  These little plots of paradise typically have smaller toys, bigger sand boxes, tables for eating, and (best of all) are fully fenced.  They’re actually a lot like dog parks except the kids don’t enter on leashes (hopefully).  A small, enclosed park where young toddlers can roam free while you lounge on a bench with a latte is a beautiful thing.

In Seattle’s Eastside, there’s Tot Lot Park and Phyllis A. Needy Park (pictured above), which was a total life-saver for me last spring/summer when I was pregnant.  Check out your local parks and rec website to find a toddler park near you.

Do you guys use these types of resources for hitting the town with young kids?  Did I leave anything out?  If so, please share with me in the comments.

Similar Stuff:
Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Right Preschool
Take Me Out to the Ball Game When I’m Still a Peanut
Why You Really Do Need to “Squish” Your Toddler into a Rear-Facing Car Seat

 

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky July 1, 2011 at 5:21 am

There are lots of community centers in the Seattle area (and others as well, I assume) that have play rooms designed for toddlers. Ours is a whopping $2 to use. :)

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Christie - Childhood 101 July 1, 2011 at 7:09 am

Gosh, I wish the kids cafe idea would take off here!

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com July 1, 2011 at 7:33 am

Becky – you are so right, C and I tried those out a few times before S was born. He esp. loved the indoor roller coaster toy they had at one of them!

Christie – new venture? (you know, with all that extra time you have on your hands)

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FreePlay Kids July 1, 2011 at 9:29 am

Steph – Thanks so much for the mention! That’s great that all of you had fun at the free event and I am glad you are finding the blog to be a beneficial resource!

http://www.freeplaykids.com

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Destri July 1, 2011 at 11:29 am

Sheesh Steph, for those of us that live in the boonies, this is just such a tease! “look at how great you could have it!”.
If I were going to be here for any length of time, I would open that coffee shop!
No really though, I definitely do not utilize the internet like I should for kids activities. Thanks for the links :)

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Erin July 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

I have kiddos exactly a year apart, as well. My son just turned 4, and my boy/girl twins just turned 3. That year that you’re in–the 2 year old + 1 year old year–that one was a little tricky to find things that interested them all, but since then? I love, love, LOVE having kids close in age!! I have it so much easier than my friends who have kids with a traditional 2-3 year spacing. My 3 and 4 year olds are very close developmentally and want to do all the same things. Fantastic! Trust me, it gets better (er, or challenging in different ways).

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Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com July 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Sorry Destri, I’ll have to do a follow up post on activities you can do in any town with little ones ;)

Erin – I’m sooo glad to hear that. My kids are 20 months apart so we’re actually only gonna be in the 1 year apart stage for about 4 months. None-the-less, I’ve been chugging along hopping that it’s harder now so that it’ll be easier later!

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Anonymous July 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I love the post, but here in Arkansas we have maybe one of the activities you’re mentioned in the entire state, and even that’s a stretch! As a homeschooling mom of 3 kids (almost 6, newly 3, & still-nursing-constantly 7 months) I was excited by the title, but, unfortunately, unless you live in a super child friendly area as you must, this was just a tease! I have driven 2+ hours each way by myself with the children to the nearest zoo and thought that was quite an accomplishment, I can’t imagine having all of this in my city!

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Erin @ Small Types July 2, 2011 at 4:52 am

We like the tot parks and cafes around Seattle too. We also look for smaller parks in general, so the kids can’t run too far in opposite directions. For sunny days, have you tried the Sammamish Commons Park? It’s rarely busy, and it’s got a cool spray pad area and a little play structure, surrounded by tons of grass. For the rainy days, the best community center we’ve found is in North Bend.

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Prerna Malik July 3, 2011 at 2:42 am

Ooh.. I wish we had these here.. I know for a fact, my toddler and I would have a blast. Luckily for us, we stay in an apartment society that itself has a 4 different parks on campus – one for each day of the week. But I’d love for her to check out a planting/petting activity or something similar. Sometimes, I think living in the city has cut her off from “natural” living to a great extent.

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erin July 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Thank you so much for the link to Red Tricycle!

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Jackiedlc February 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

thanks for sharing

Jackie
http://www.savingadime.com

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Marie A. March 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Indoor confined play areas have really helped me with my now 3 year old B/G twins. You’ve listed my favorite coffee shops – I’d add the Spotted Cow coffee & homemade ice cream shop in Bothell, it has a small enclosed (free) play area also Bellevue Square Mall has a great enclosed kids play area with lots of seating for the parents. Outdoors at the Redmond Town Center there’s a great music themed enclosed play area right next to Tully’s. Hope that helps!

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