I love absolutely everything about this time of year. I'm no longer sweating my ass off walking from my front door to my car, the leaves have started changing colors and it's finally time for my husband and I to light up our fire pit and enjoy our deck without being eaten alive by thousands of mosquitos. The only real drawback is that now that it's a little more chilly and it's beginning to get darker, earlier, taking Nola to the park to waste a few hours either before heading home for dinner isn't a reliable option.
I've learned to get creative with how we spend our time together either after I pick her up from school or on the weekends. Something that I've learned is that what may seem like every day activities for us parents really can turn into an adventure for our kids. To that end, here are a few activities I've tried out with success with my own daughter and I hope they'll provide some entertainment for you and your family as well.
+Drive-Thru Car Wash Adventure
Admittedly, you're not going to be able to waste hours doing this activity with your kiddo (unless you keep paying to go through the car wash which would be both weird and impressive), but this is prime cheap fun that your toddler might actually be into. Prep your kid for what will happen in advance by getting them excited. Hell, make up a fun story about what's happening with the car is getting washed. When I was a kid, my mom used to take us through them and tell us we were on a space escapade. I still love drive-thru car washes because of it. If your toddler is too overwhelmed by all the spinning, washing and wiping that's totally okay. At worst you've spent $10 and the outside of your car is clean.
+Head To The Pet Store
I recently discovered how much fun the pet store is for kids when I took Nola with me on a trip to grab food for our dogs. We went to our local Petco and we strolled by a few fish tanks. Nola lost her shit. She kept screaming "fish, fish!" so I took a detour to walk her around the store and point out all of the animals there. Reliably, your local pet store will also have fish and some combination of snakes, lizards, gerbils, mice snd birds. If you get lucky, a pet adoption event might be taking place. In my experience, the volunteers are always happy to let kids gently pet the animals up for adoption.
+Go To The Aquarium
Having a kid made me remember how amazing the aquarium is. The exhibits, the colors, the massive swimming animals and petting pools, what's not to love? If your kid is anything like mine and obsessed with animals, this is going to be quite the experience. Take this opportunity and indulge as much of your kids' requests as possible. They want a pretzel with that gross fake cheese? Let em' go for it. Is freshly spun cotton candy for sale? Grab a bundle. You're making lifetime memories after all. A trip to the aquarium isn't cheap but, in most instances, children under the age of two get free entry. Also, ask your local elementary school or pediatrician if they have access to discounted tickets. Sometimes they do!
+Playtime In The Bathroom
Snap up a set of finger paint, washable markers or bathtub crayons and let your kid show off their inner Picasso on your shower walls. They can paint to their hearts content and when they're finished, simply cut on the shower and rinse them (and your disaster of a bathroom) clean. Another option is to use your tub as a makeshift jacuzzi. Pour in way to many bubbles (bonus points if you have jets!) and hand over a few tiny bottles of food coloring. Watch your kid have fun turning the water different colors. Who says the water fun has to end with Summer?
+Your Own Personal (Baby) Chef
Chances are that your little one is happy to do almost anything as long as it involves making a mess and being able to put things in their mouths. Grab this baking set from Amazon, a box of brownie, cookie or cake mix and let them go crazy. Who cares if a little flour ends up on the floor? At the end y'all will have a sweet treat and your baby will have had a great time hanging out with you.
+Rediscover The Library
I didn't know this until Shep told me, but local libraries are super dope spaces for young children. A lot of them have children's corners where kids are invited to play, read and imagine. Sometimes they even bring in volunteers to read books or put on puppet shows. These activities are almost always free and in general, the library is a great place to go to bring home new books to keep your little ones learning.
+Bring Summer Back For A Day
Who doesn't love a themed party. For this activity throw on Moana, or play the soundtrack and have a lūʻau. Order some cool hula outfits, make shaved ice (use a blender to get the ice super soft) and sing your hearts out to a Disney classic.