Well, first thing is that I am a stay at home mom for now(most of the time, if I can add) and when I meet other moms who stay at home, we often exchange places where we took our kids to and the activities we do. So I thought, why not share it here, it might be useful to someone else who needs support too.
Being a stay at home mom is a challenging job, it does not imply that we sit at home all day, watch movies and sleep. If you google stay at home mom’s worth, you see anywhere between $60,000 to $100,000 a year because of what they do at home. I chose to be a stay at home mom simply because N asked me to. My mom was a stay at home but N has been in daycare(the Indian daycare centers nearly 3 decades ago) and so N was firm that our little one will go to school till he learns to talk,eat on his own and can understand what happens around him to a certain extent etc., So I did my research and many authors recommend an age of 18 months as a acceptable age to leave them at schools all day. And besides I wanted a break too, so I ended up being a stay at home. If you think I am complaining, think again, from R’s birth to now, it is one of the best and joyful times of my life as I have spent every minute of it with him. From setting up our own routine to playing games to touring the city with him it is truly rewarding, honestly I should say I have been to many places and made many friends from Houston after R’s birth
One cannot compare kids who stay at home and kids who are in daycare all day. Both have their own advantages.
By staying at home, luckily R has escaped from the usual cold,cough and ear infections that most kids who go to daycare often suffer from. But on the other hand he is missing out on socialization and making friends of his own age group. The other thing is that though he is perfectly capable of doing things that a toddler will do on his own, his mommy alarm goes off every 10-15 minutes if he can’t see me in the house, next to him. But kids in daycare get used to that environment of a classroom setting, right?
I have mommy friends whose kids go to day care and they keep telling me what all their kids could do at R’s age. Sometimes I feel like saying,”Yeah, ofcourse you are paying for that, aren’t you?”
The issue that I feel he misses the most is making friends and socialization. Babies are born to learn so I am not worried about him singing a perfect Twinkle Twinkle little start at this age. It is just the challenge that I face- to find activities that interest him, will keep him occupied, will teach him something, lets face it, even if I do not pay the $800 average cost for daycare here in Houston, I have to find/fix activities that are as good as a school’s but at a comparable cost. Here are a couple of suggestions that I have tried and have worked and are almost free.
Again I think twice before writing anything about R as I have seen the opposite effects. I wrote that I give him all kinds of vegetable mashes when he started solid food and shared the recipes here. When I was visiting people last year in India, there was this place where I had a cup of boiled okra and a cup of boiled mashed peppers as baby food. Why? See, I wrote he eats everything right? What else could I do at that situation other than accepting that I am was so naive and wrong in bringing up my baby 😉
So, if you want to use this article for good purposes please do so and share your tips and activities for others to use as well. Just to find fault if you read, it is not worth anyone’s time, is it?
So the freebies come first:
Network-Network-Network: Yup, it is not only useful to find a job but it is very useful to be connected to moms in your area. Try to find some local mom’s groups(most of them are free to join) so you get to know about playgroups, play dates, meetups, activities, pizza parties, water activities, picnics, camping as a family at kid friendly places, advices and sometimes a friendly face to look at who has been in your shoes before I joined one of our city’s mom groups because of my friend TN and both my son and I have made many friends because of that. Especially when N travels I need friends where I can take R to and who can come home with their kids to give us some cheer!
Libraries: Most libraries have toddler times as well as Mother Goose time, Story time(or something similar depending on where you live) where you can take babies(0+ months to 2-3 years). Libraries in Houston also have movie time every second saturday for the entire family and it is free! Taking your child to library at an early age is a wonderful beginning, though they may not actively read from the books they can look at pictures, see what older kids do and try to follow them. Though R is not making sentences yet, he is using lot of words to describe the pictures in the books.
Freebie fun: Again through your mom networks or on your own you can find great deals on museum,aquariums and zoos in your area. Here are some of those in Houston:
Buffalo Soldier Museum – FREE admission on Mondays from 10am-5pm
Houston Zoo – FREE admission after 2pm on the first Tuesday of each month
The Weather Museum – FREE admission on Thursdays from 12-4 pm
Cockrell Butterfly Center – FREE admission any day when you check in for the first time on foursquare
Children’s Museum: Free every First Sunday of the Month
Houston zoo, as you can see is free every first tuesday of the month. R is fond of the elephants and we atleast spend an hour watching the baby elephants take bath or the bigger ones eating leaves from the trees. You can also easily convert it to a lesson- elephant is black in color, it has a tail etc.,
R also loves going to the Children’s Museum, voted No:1 in th country by the parenting magazine. Though the totspot is suitable for him now, when he gets old enough I am sure he is going to join the projects they have for different age groups there. At tot spot there are mirrors of various sizes that he can see himself in lot of dimensions(!!) and also a pathway indoors what goes up and down with lot of twists, some slides and a miniature house complete with kitchen and tea set, a doll house with a potty what actually makes flushing noise and a cute door just like the one in Alice in Wonderland- the door is as tall as R, that is it. You can either knock or ring the door bell-open the door- and there- you kiddo starts laughing and reaches for the doorbell again and again. Why? Go see for yourself if you live in Houston 😉
You can just type in top 10 things to do with kids in your city in the search engines and you will get similar deals in every state/city.
Or try to find some local farms and go pick some vegetables or berries with you child. Not only can you teach them how a vegetable/fruit grows they can see a farm too and you can remind it to them every time you sing Old Mac Donald Or take them to farmers market and show them different vegetables enjoy walking with your child and take your time when you walk through those places. It has to be a fun activity, not like lets tick this one off of our list and move on kind of stuff.
Visit a Pet store: Strange huh? When it is too hot to roam in the zoo, I sometimes take him to pet stores(suggested by friend A) to see the colorful fishes, parrots, hampsters, turtles, cats and puppies. If it is a dog grooming day in the store, then it is a real treat for the child- I take it as an opportunity to tell him things like, ” See that is how we take a bath, we also need to comb our hair,brush our teeth” etc.,
Show him how stuff works at home: C’mon after all can’t we show the kid how to arrange stuff? Only thing is that it will take time for the child to understand what you are tying to say and follow it. R is my little helper in most of the chores I think are safe for him to do with me. When I take the hamper to wash clothes, I let him push it from the other side, show him how to pile the clothes in the washer(sometimes it gets all over the place, but it is fun too isnt it?) If we are back from shopping, trust me, he drags the bag all over the living room and keeps it near the refrigerator and starts sorting out the vegetables and he very well knows where the slot for the milk is in the fridge! Why not sing one potato two potato three potato more as you arrange the vegetables in their place 😉
Activities that will cost around $50-$100 a month:
YMCA: I love the YMCA especially for their parent child swimming classes. Combining the actions in swimming with rhymes, this is one fun activity that R,N and I never miss out. A natural swimmer like his dad, if I put him in water my son can stay for hours in it! He is already kicking and paddling, besides swimming is also a good exercise for all of us right 😉
Most YMCA’s have a kid zone so you can drop your babies/toddlers there for sometime as you workout or do yoga!
Gymboree: This is a place that was suggested to me by my pediatrician and it is worth the money you pay for a month especially on a really hot day or a rainy day when you cannot go out. With open gym everyday and classes that teach rhymes with actions/music/art, it is something similar to a classroom with parent participation. R loves the parachute time and bubbles fun that he keeps chasing the bubbles and popping them! You can check out your nearest place through this Gymboree link .
Day care/ School around $200 a month:
If you feel that you do not want the kid to go to day care all day/all week, yet want him to socialize and learn you can try day schools run by churches. Most of them charge around $200 a month for a two day per week classes. I have not yet tried this option but some of my friends did send their children to these schools and they said it was good as the children learnt something yet they stayed at home and did other activities for the rest of the week till they went to elementary school.
So, does anybody has any more suggestions that I can add to this list so that someone searching for activities can find it? Please leave a comment and let us know! I can think according to my son’s age only so if you have older kids and you can share your experiences please tell us more about what you do!