Sometimes it can be challenging to keep a two year old entertained, especially mine. James needs a lot of variety in his life to keep him from getting bored. He likes to see different people, go different places, play with different toys, and eat different foods. I hear about so many kids who just want to eat chicken nuggets every night. Not mine. He’ll eat them twice and then he’s done. He tells me, “I’m sick for ticken wuggets!” I’m like, “Great, you ate 6 of the 30 pack we just bought!” These days, for the most part, he just eats what we eat, and if he doesn’t like it, he can have some graham crackers before bed. But, I’m way off track already. Point being he doesn’t want to walk to the same three parks in our neighborhood over and over again. So, we try to plan outings for him pretty much every day. These are a few of the things he enjoys…
- Libraries. I barely even knew what the inside of a library looked like before I had a kid. Now I go there at least once a week. There’s generally a play area with lots of toddler toys and a few other kids to play with. The toys may not be anything spectacular but they are different from his toys at home and that’s all that really matters. Plus, we don’t buy him books anymore. He only wants to read a book a few times and then he’s “sick for it”, so we take out 10 or 12 books and trade them in every week or so. I swear we’ve read half of the children’s collection at the Cherry Creek Library! We’ve read every single book about construction sites and trains. And, they have paper books for adults. Who even knew they still made those? And it’s all free!
- Free museums. There’s a free museum in Littleton, CO that has an 1860s farm, like a working farm with all the animals. It’s like a free zoo, and no one ever goes there. I’ve never seen it crowded. In the winter, we’re often the only ones there.
- National parks. In Colorado, we’re lucky enough to have great open space parks. One we really like is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. They have buffalo! You can drive through and check out the buffalo through the window (you’re not allowed to get out of the car and hangout with them.) But they also have a couple nice lakes with trails around them where you can walk around, and a little sandy beach. Bring some food and a pail and shovel, and you’ve got yourself a nice little morning. The best part is that it’s close by, at least for us. It’s in Denver. There’s big ‘ol buffalo open space park right in the middle of the city.
- Visiting family. We are lucky enough to have my mom just a few blocks away. If James is bored at home, I often just head to my mom’s. She has a different set of toys for him over there, and James LOVES his “mimi” so that in itself is a treat. I can make myself a cup of tea and relax for a few minutes while James’ grandma spoils him rotten. I also have a sister who lives about an hour from us, right outside of Evergreen. Elk Meadow Park is another national park that’s right off the highway, about half way to my sister’s house, so we can stop and take a short hike on the way up. Last time we even saw a whole heard of elk!
- Play dates. Every mom knows this, but kids are often easier in groups. Bring your own kid to the playground, and he wants you to go down the slide behind him, EVERY SINGLE TIME. But, bring him to the park with three little friends and you can sit back and watch them play for an hour. Plus, I normally can’t my kid to sit still for three minutes to eat a meal, but stick him at a table with two other toddlers and he sits politely and chats while he eats his sandwich. It’s amazing!
- Rivers. Our son loves to throw rocks in the river. He’ll do it for hours. Especially in the summer when he can take his shoes off and wade into the water. Kids just love nature. They love throwing rocks, banging big sticks together, running, climbing, jumping, whatever. It’s just so much easier to entertain a kid out in the wilderness. Try it. You don’t have to strap on a pack and hike 6 miles carrying your kid on your back. Just let him take his time and spend an hour walking a half mile.
- Night hikes. My lovely and creative sister came up with this idea. In the winter when it gets dark early, it can be tough to entertain your kid in the house for four hours after it gets dark. So don’t! Get bundled up, bring a flashlight and go on an exciting night hike. My son says there are dinosaurs chasing us and we have to hide. I’m still not sure if he has a really great imagination or if he really sees dinosaurs. Either way, it’s pretty fun.
Not sure why, but he insisted on wearing the necklace.
- The Strider Bike. Okay, so the bike itself wasn’t free but your kid can ride it from age 18 months until 3 or 4 years so the $80 seems pretty reasonable. Plus, they’re tiny so you can take them anywhere. My son likes to ride his in the skate park, which is terrifying for me but he loves it! Just get a good helmet, and maybe full dirt bike armor if you can find it small enough.
- Water parks. Lots of parks are starting to put in water features so the kids can run around and get sprayed by the fountains. And its free. Just head to the park and bring an extra set of clothes.
- Baking. Okay, so this isn’t an outing. But I wanted an even 10 and sometimes you just want to stay home for an afternoon! My son loves to help make banana bread, cookies, pumpkin bread, cupcakes, etc… He’ll sit on the counter and happily stir while I add all the ingredients. He especially likes to “test” the batter. “I’m just going to have one more teeny bite, mommy. Just a teeny tiny bite.”
I just realized that I made it sound like I was the smart one who came up with all of these outings but I have to give credit where credit is due. My husband is really good at coming up with places to take our son. He usually finds them and then I steal his idea and take our son there every week until he’s “sick for it.” The baking one is all me, though!