Since Sean has started waking, many days boil down to taking care of basic basic needs only.  Sometimes, when I’m extra inspired, we go somewhere, driven by the need to find something to do that will help pass some time and be fun for him and not exhausting for me.  =)  I may have mentioned that I don’t tend to have tons of energy most days.

And as much as I so wish I could be that mom who always has a healthy, home cooked meal ready at just the right time, three times a day, so we can be more healthy and our kid can grow up into a superhero, I haven’t managed it yet.  To me, it’s basically the best day ever when food appears- meaning I don’t have to make it.  =)   One way to make food appear is to pay someone to make it for you.

Having someone else make food for you is one of the may benefits of going to a restaurant of some kind.  Of course this tends to cost more money than making your own food from cheap ingredients- that’s why we go somewhere that has super cheap food- i.e. a fast food restaurant.  But then comes the difficulty of trying to eat said restaurant with young kids. My sis and have a longstanding tradition of getting together for dinner once a week or so, but now-a-days with 3 kids in the picture between us, it can be tricky enough just feeding everyone, much less having any kind of decent conversation.  Alas! However, one thing that has made dinners much easier is going somewhere that has one of those sectioned off play structures attached.

BUT!  Not all of these play-places are created equal.  No, indeed!  There are options!

Options:  Do we want….

1.  The old, dilapidated, outdoor one that barely anyone uses anymore?   The padding is falling off, it’s dirty from the weather and it gets too cold to be outside ideally, especially when the  bottom of the slide is a bit collapsed and has turned into a water barrel from the rain– but hey, you have kids who need to burn off some energy!  The best part is it’s a smallish enclosed area that we usually have all to ourselves with no worries when our kids scream and throw things and trash ends up all over the place.  (We clean it all up before we leave of course.)

2.  The fancy, super local indoor one with a huge structure in a delightfully freezingly air-conditioned space on a hot day?  Drawbacks:  Everyone else wants to play here too.  There seem to be 27 kids tearing around climbing on, around, even behind the thing, while yours is one of the very few tiny ones just waiting to be knocked over while they try to decide if they even want to move closer to inspect the bottom of the slide, too paralyzed by the chaos to make any move the whole time.

3.  The farther away one we just discovered today outside a hardware store?  It had a little section especially for kids under 3 that Sean loved, the structure wasn’t too big so he could use the whole thing, and the other kids weren’t being too crazy this time.  Indoor so not as dirty (at least not noticeably from dirt/dust- I know those things must all be germ factories), a bit warm but it was a cool day, and not so far away that we couldn’t realistically go again sometime!

What kinds of things do you like to do for cheap or free with the little ones?  How do you manage meals and kids and just life!– especially on those low energy days?