It’s about that time again. The time that stay at home parents with kids not yet in school dread – the indoor, rainy season. Figuring out how to entertain the kiddos during those long days takes creativity and sometimes a large budget. Over the years, I’ve signed my kids up for just about every activity imaginable only to realize that I’m paying more than I would for part-time daycare. I’m not saying that I regret the programs they were in – most of them were fantastic! But, in order to stay within our budget, and get out of the house, I’ve come up with some activities that won’t break the bank.
- Library Story Times – free. There are plenty of great libraries with story times in our area. Shoreline’s Library on 175th even offers story times in Spanish and Korean! Korean – Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m., Spanish – Fridays at 1:30 p.m., Young Toddler – Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m., Toddler - Tuesdays at 11:00 a.m., Preschool – Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., Babies – Wednesday at noon. There is also a special Halloween Story time on October 31st, costumes being optional. Richmond Beach Library on Richmond Beach Road offers story times as well. Toddler – Thursdays at 10:15 a.m., Preschool – Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Richmond Beach Library’s Halloween event is on Oct. 26th at 7:00 p.m.
- Shoreline’s Spartan Recreation Center open gym playtime. 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on weekdays. For only $2 a child, your child can use the slides, teeter-totters, play cars, climbing toys, mini basketball hoops and multi-sized balls. You are responsible for supervising your own children but feel free to bring your own coffee while you chase after your little ones. Word of warning – this place gets a bit rough sometimes. Not all the parents watch their kids as closely as others and the little boys (mine included) have a tendency to run into others. The Spartan Rec Center is at 202 NE 185th Street Shoreline, WA 98155. It’s between the Shoreline Conference Center and Shoreline Stadium.
- Join a preschool cooperative. Believe it or not, but there are preschool programs for children as young as 3 months old! There are three cooperatives in Shoreline that are affiliated with Shoreline Community College and parents earn college credit for being a part of it. While joining a co-op can be a bit of work (fundraising, cleaning, playing with all the kids, etc.) it’s one of the most economical and valuable options around. Shorenorth Co-op (which I was a part of for three years and loved it!) has five different classes for each age group starting at $45 a month for weekly baby classes. Shoreline Co-op has three classes and starting at age two for $77 a month. North City Cooperative has six classes starting at age one for $50 a month. All are located at the old North City Elementary school building at 816 NE 190th St, Shoreline, WA 98155. http://new.shoreline.edu/parentcoop/
- Form a neighborhood playgroup. Chances are that other parents are feeling the same way you are and can use a change in scenery (and toys!) to make all the difference in the world. I wish I had formed mine earlier. It turns out that there are eight other little ones on my block and we now take turns rotating homes for bi-weekly playgroups.
- Sign up your kids for classes through the City of Shoreline or at the Francis Anderson Center in Edmonds. While I love places like the Little Gym and the various dance studios, you will get the most bang for your buck with these other options. I’ve also had friends who have raved about the lower cost swimming lessons at the Shoreline Pool. So before you join a gym or chip in to pay for a facilities expensive overhead, try these first.