Author Topic: Cheap/free activities with baby?  (Read 1109 times)

Sweetpotatofries

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Cheap/free activities with baby?
« on: August 29, 2017, 02:33:58 PM »
I'm a relatively new SAHM to a 7 month old. When he was first born I did Stroller Strides for $80/month - it was the cheapest new moms activity I could find and I made good use of it working out in the summer. I figured I would meet other new moms during the 4 months I did the workouts and arrange playgroups on our own, walks, etc. Unfortunately it didn't pan out that way. I met a lot of great moms but half of them returned to work, and the half that are also staying home never seem to want to meet up to do free stuff, they always want me to go to a music class with them (there are 3 popular in our town, which cost $285, $360, and $395 for 10 weeks of 1x class per week) or similar. I can't stomach the thought of paying that much for a 45 minute class during which my kid may or may not be happy, if it ends up that he woke up early from his nap that day! Plus it's just a lot of $$ for a mommy and me...

Anyone have suggestions of what they've found in their towns? We have a library story time once a week. We go to that but they only take 15 babies per session and you have to sign up, and can't go two sessions in a row. That's the only free thing I've found!

Chesleygirl

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2017, 09:54:36 PM »
My local mall has a free children's library with computers and books.

If you join a local yahoo  meetup group, they often list activities. You don't even have to join the group, just get the posts and see what they're doing.

I used to post on something called mamapedia (?). That's how I found out about $5.00 gymnastics/tumbling classes for kids.

I took my oldest to Kindermusik classes when she was about 11 months old, but they are expensive. Can't do it this time around. I have two year old twins and take them to the local park when the weather is good. That is about our only free activity. I also take them to the YMCA and they can go into childcare for 2 hours while I work out. That's sort of free, it comes with our $70 a month family membership at the YMCA.

I can't take them to local libraries because they pull books off shelves.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 09:57:36 PM by Chesleygirl »

Sweetpotatofries

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2017, 05:47:45 AM »
Thanks Chesley - unfortunately our YWCA/YMCA is $180/month and childcare costs extra ($10/hr, 2 hour or $20 minimum) although I looked into the option for working out! There actually seems to be more activities for little kids (ages 2 and up) that are cheaper than mommy and me stuff. I'm looking for ways to meet other moms, mostly. I know my 7 month old won't get much out of a music class at this age lol.

iowajes

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2017, 06:10:19 AM »
Our library has 3 story times a week for different ages of tots (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers)- but all ages are welcome at all of them.  My LO loved watching the big kids dance and stuff.  The community center also has fairly regular programming where they bring special guests in for the kids.

Do you have a city Moms blog network in your area.  Ours did a summer park hop each week and has some other meetups.

Sweetpotatofries

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2017, 11:44:37 AM »
Our library has 3 story times a week for different ages of tots (babies, toddlers, and preschoolers)- but all ages are welcome at all of them.  My LO loved watching the big kids dance and stuff.  The community center also has fairly regular programming where they bring special guests in for the kids.

Do you have a city Moms blog network in your area.  Ours did a summer park hop each week and has some other meetups.

We do the library storytime - it's sign up only though and you can't sign up for 2 consecutive sessions (they're 6 weeks each) and they separate strictly into baby lapsit (pre crawling), toddler and pre-school. We have a town FB group for moms but I think our issue is that we live in a super HCOL area so people are just used to paying for stuff!

brycedoula

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2017, 12:00:59 PM »
Our city-run pools have pretty cheap swimming lessons: 8 lessons (1/2 hour each) for $43.00 CAD. I signed my kid for 2 sessions, once when she was ~9 months, and again at ~13 months. I didn't make any new friends, but I maybe could have if I'd reached out.

I also made a small group of mum-friends by attending a weekly drop-in breastfeeding support group run by local public health nurses.

Do you have anything like that in your area?

starbuck

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2017, 12:24:06 PM »
Alright, I've been in your exact same position - we moved to a new area where we didn't know anyone and I switched from working FT to a SAHP when my kid was 8 months old. Here's what has worked for me (note - still a work in progress!)

For reference, we are in a HCOL, but not super HCOL.

-Joined the Y so I could work out w/childcare (this was non-negotiable for me.) Our Y is $85/mo w/2 free hours of childcare a day. Sorry to hear yours is so expensive! I go to the group exercise classes 3-4 days a week and have become friends with a lot of the parents there.
-Joined the local Mom's club. Dues are just $25/year. I'm actually on the board now, so they HAVE to be my friend, right??

Places to meet parents and strike up a convo:
-Playgrounds. It's easy to chat with people when using the infant swings. Some playgrounds are more popular than others, so scope them ALL out.
-Splashpads (often next to playgrounds!)
-Beach/local watering hole.
-Library storytime, or just the library in general. There are 4 different libraries that we frequent on a semi-regular basis.
-Hike it Baby - not very active in my area but maybe you'll have better luck.
-Local children's museums - our local libraries have free/discounted admission. And there is usually a baby area that is much quieter and easier to hold a conversation if you meet someone.

The thing that made the biggest difference was joining the Mom's club and becoming an ACTIVE member. Is the FB group in your area an active group?

dumbblond

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2017, 12:31:54 PM »
I had the same struggle with my first...

If you're near a bigger city, try searching facebook or meetup for mom groups in your area. The town I'm in has a group that does regular playdates and mom's night out stuff, and they charge $25/year membership fee (seems reasonable to me). You might also check your local community center. Ours does relatively cheap swimming lessons (~$80 for 8 weeks), and in the colder months, they would have a drop-in playdate once a week where kids could run around in their gym and play with their toys/other kids while parents supervise.

A few of the malls around here have play areas for kids that don't cost anything, and I've seen some mom groups do stroller workouts in the morning before the stores open.

I don't know what your religious bent is, but I've heard really good things about MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups and your kid can be any age (younger than kindergarten) for you to join. They are usually setup in a church/run by Christian groups, but you don't have to believe certain things to attend meetings (and they are free).

This one might be easier when your baby gets a little older, but sometimes you can meet friends at local playgrounds/fast food joints with playplaces. There's a chick-fil-a near us that does a free breakfast entree every Tuesday on random months so we'll go and get that and a coffee, and the kids can climb out some energy.

I think finding friends is hard, and nothing really worked for me until we finally started attending a church that had a lot of young parents (with a lot of SAH or WFH moms who were open to new friendship).

Chesleygirl

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2017, 01:09:24 PM »
Thanks Chesley - unfortunately our YWCA/YMCA is $180/month and childcare costs extra ($10/hr, 2 hour or $20 minimum) although I looked into the option for working out!

That's expensive. Our YMCA is a family membership for $70 a month with childcare included. $180 a month seems really steep. I guess the rates are different everywhere.

However, some gyms are less expensive than the YMCA. We found one gym (Texas Family Fitness) that offers family membership, with childcare included for only $45 a month.  The rates fluctuate over time, too. They might offer a good deal one month, but not the next. So maybe shop around, find a good rate, and get a membership if it's affordable.

The Y is definitely not the cheapest anymore.

I'd also avoid clubs like Bally's that try to rope people into signing long term contracts.

Sweetpotatofries

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2017, 11:23:16 AM »
Alright, I've been in your exact same position - we moved to a new area where we didn't know anyone and I switched from working FT to a SAHP when my kid was 8 months old. Here's what has worked for me (note - still a work in progress!)

For reference, we are in a HCOL, but not super HCOL.

-Joined the Y so I could work out w/childcare (this was non-negotiable for me.) Our Y is $85/mo w/2 free hours of childcare a day. Sorry to hear yours is so expensive! I go to the group exercise classes 3-4 days a week and have become friends with a lot of the parents there.
-Joined the local Mom's club. Dues are just $25/year. I'm actually on the board now, so they HAVE to be my friend, right??

Places to meet parents and strike up a convo:
-Playgrounds. It's easy to chat with people when using the infant swings. Some playgrounds are more popular than others, so scope them ALL out.
-Splashpads (often next to playgrounds!)
-Beach/local watering hole.
-Library storytime, or just the library in general. There are 4 different libraries that we frequent on a semi-regular basis.
-Hike it Baby - not very active in my area but maybe you'll have better luck.
-Local children's museums - our local libraries have free/discounted admission. And there is usually a baby area that is much quieter and easier to hold a conversation if you meet someone.

The thing that made the biggest difference was joining the Mom's club and becoming an ACTIVE member. Is the FB group in your area an active group?


Thanks! I found a couple of mom's groups on Meetup that seem similar to what you describe, they charge $10 or so a year and do a weekly playgroup. I don't know how active either actually is but I am going to check both out next week! I also need to check out different playgrounds. We have two in walking distance but neither seems geared to the very young kid crowd even though there are areas for them...I need to find where the babies are at.

As for the Y, I WISH we had membership rates like that. Our Y is actually very fancy-seeming and the only other gyms in town are boutique fitness (Pure Barre type) and Equinox. I may end up biting the bullet on the Y just because right now I get up early before husband goes to work to workout, or run with the jogging stroller, and that's fine, but I have always pre-baby met lots of people through running/workout classes. That's why I liked Stroller Strides, but my kid screams the whole time since it's during his morning nap and he's alert enough not to sleep outside lol.

iowajes

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2017, 12:12:18 PM »
Do you have a MOPS group around you?

Sweetpotatofries

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2017, 08:07:27 AM »
Do you have a MOPS group around you?

We do. However, I have heard it has at least a semi-religious bent and we are secular Jewish, so I'm not sure if it would be a good option.

ManlyFather

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2017, 12:59:53 PM »
Check out your city's/municipality's parks and rec department. Most have lots of activities for all ages, and they are extremely cheap and/or free. If you are fancy, you can even volunteer to create a program and get paid. Seriously, check it out - it's nothing like the TV show...

wordnerd

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2017, 01:40:28 PM »
7 months is still a hard age for activities. Once my son started walking/running well around 16-18 months, our options expanded. We got to local parks and libraries mostly, but it's a lot more fun now. I will also sometimes take him with me to Dunkin Donuts; he likes sitting in the high-chair while I drink my coffee and is too young to ask for donuts ;)
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iowajes

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2017, 03:12:01 PM »
Do you have a MOPS group around you?

We do. However, I have heard it has at least a semi-religious bent and we are secular Jewish, so I'm not sure if it would be a good option.

It is a Christian group. They do pray, but I've found all are welcome (I'm not religious and just tune it out.) It might be uncomfortable to some though.

I hung out today at our local baby wearing international group. No structured play for the kids, but lots of visiting with Moms.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2017, 09:25:59 AM »
Do you have a MOPS group around you?

We do. However, I have heard it has at least a semi-religious bent and we are secular Jewish, so I'm not sure if it would be a good option.

It is a Christian group. They do pray, but I've found all are welcome (I'm not religious and just tune it out.) It might be uncomfortable to some though.

I hung out today at our local baby wearing international group. No structured play for the kids, but lots of visiting with Moms.

Just to clarify: MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is not a free group to join. You have to pay yearly dues. Over $100, I believe. I think I paid around $140 for the spring and fall semester. It's probably gone up since then. You also have to take turns bringing food to the meetings. The meetings are held once a month, and you are required to miss one meeting per semester to do childcare in the nursery.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2017, 09:28:15 AM by Chesleygirl »

iowajes

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2017, 12:32:55 PM »
Do you have a MOPS group around you?

We do. However, I have heard it has at least a semi-religious bent and we are secular Jewish, so I'm not sure if it would be a good option.

It is a Christian group. They do pray, but I've found all are welcome (I'm not religious and just tune it out.) It might be uncomfortable to some though.

I hung out today at our local baby wearing international group. No structured play for the kids, but lots of visiting with Moms.

Just to clarify: MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is not a free group to join. You have to pay yearly dues. Over $100, I believe. I think I paid around $140 for the spring and fall semester. It's probably gone up since then. You also have to take turns bringing food to the meetings. The meetings are held once a month, and you are required to miss one meeting per semester to do childcare in the nursery.

Wow. Yours is a lot more than it is here. The one here is $90 for the year, $30 goes to the international organization, the rest local. You have to bring food once and childcare once. They meet twice a month.  Heck of a lot cheaper than the things mentioned in the OP. She asked for free or cheap.

(The group I belonged to in Texas, the church paid for the childcare, it wasn't volunteer- so it varies)
« Last Edit: September 04, 2017, 12:38:11 PM by iowajes »

MBot

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2017, 03:36:10 PM »
Are you looking for suggestions of what you can do while bringing along the baby, or specifically mommy and me type groups?

What do you want to do? What are your interests? They are still at an age where you can easily put them in a soft structured carrier (like an Ergo or liklebaby) and do some things you want even if they're more active.

Is there good/easy hiking in your area? Great to put the baby on your back and hike solo or invite another mama or two
Good museums with free admission to the permanent collection are the best. Push a stroller or put the baby in a carrier, see neat things, sometimes there are kids programs too.
Is there a community art space or women's art space where you're able to do free work and bring the baby along?
Is there a farmers market where you may meet many other parents? That is THE place we see most other parents and kids. And buy eight zucchini for three bucks while we're at it
Is there a yoga studio that does mommy and me fitness classes? Ours is 3 months up until walking age.

LadyMuMu

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2017, 06:36:13 PM »
We were super broke when my kids were this age. Here were some things we did:

parks
library (not just story time, hanging out there)
public music events (free)
little league games
hikes
splash park
walking around the pet store (the "free" zoo)
mall play space
Chik-fil-a
LaLeche League

I also made up mom business cards. I gave them to anyone I met who I felt a connection with. Making mom friends is like dating. You're just going to have to put yourself out there and have coffee with a couple of not-so-good-fits until you find your gang. Once you have 2-3 mom friends, suggest a round-robin playdate once or twice a week. Also, don't let faith based groups scare you away. MOPS wasn't for me, but I did a sort of "home school" preschool thing once a week with a bunch of Mormon moms. I just made it super clear that I was happy in my own faith and we all got along great.

Sweetpotatofries

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2017, 02:47:24 PM »
Are you looking for suggestions of what you can do while bringing along the baby, or specifically mommy and me type groups?

What do you want to do? What are your interests? They are still at an age where you can easily put them in a soft structured carrier (like an Ergo or liklebaby) and do some things you want even if they're more active.

I like outdoor activities especially running. I'm not great at babywearing (I nursed in the K'tan until about 3 months when he cluster fed but didn't wear him for a month or so, and he's so heavy now!) He also won't sleep in the carrier anymore. I have a BOB we got barely used which I run with him in! Just by ourselves though.

Is there good/easy hiking in your area? Great to put the baby on your back and hike solo or invite another mama or two Yes,
 I'm not great at baby-wearing but we have stroll-able trails. I just don't have anyone to invite yet!

Good museums with free admission to the permanent collection are the best. Push a stroller or put the baby in a carrier, see neat things, sometimes there are kids programs too.
Is there a community art space or women's art space where you're able to do free work and bring the baby along?
Is there a farmers market where you may meet many other parents? That is THE place we see most other parents and kids. And buy eight zucchini for three bucks while we're at it. Yes, we have a small one once a week - I go a lot but haven't met anyone there yet.
 

Is there a yoga studio that does mommy and me fitness classes? Ours is 3 months up until walking age. Yes, we did a trial class,
 but our local studios are around $300 for 10-class series and I think it's just so much money to spend on essentially meeting other moms, since there's not a whole lot of "yoga" going on. I might have to bite the bullet though, it's tough not socializing so much.


Sweetpotatofries

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2017, 02:48:54 PM »
Do you have a MOPS group around you?

We do. However, I have heard it has at least a semi-religious bent and we are secular Jewish, so I'm not sure if it would be a good option.

It is a Christian group. They do pray, but I've found all are welcome (I'm not religious and just tune it out.) It might be uncomfortable to some though.

I hung out today at our local baby wearing international group. No structured play for the kids, but lots of visiting with Moms.

Just to clarify: MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is not a free group to join. You have to pay yearly dues. Over $100, I believe. I think I paid around $140 for the spring and fall semester. It's probably gone up since then. You also have to take turns bringing food to the meetings. The meetings are held once a month, and you are required to miss one meeting per semester to do childcare in the nursery.

Wow. Yours is a lot more than it is here. The one here is $90 for the year, $30 goes to the international organization, the rest local. You have to bring food once and childcare once. They meet twice a month.  Heck of a lot cheaper than the things mentioned in the OP. She asked for free or cheap.

(The group I belonged to in Texas, the church paid for the childcare, it wasn't volunteer- so it varies)


Thanks for the info on MOPS! To be honest I think the prayer part would be a little weird for me, given that we're not just not religiously Christian, but actively identify with another faith, and I believe ours is a little more spiritual after talking to the head of the group. The suggestion was a great one though - it's $250 for the year plus the snacks, which is indeed so much cheaper than the rest of the baby stuff!

Goldielocks

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2017, 09:38:39 PM »
Start your own free baby stroller meet up.   Meet in the park and go!
We had 1 year mat leaves, so would rotate through 3-4 friends homes for coffee time every couple of weeks.  Doesnt' work when the moms are back at work, however.

flamingo25

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2017, 09:13:01 PM »
So maybe a little odd but my son (now almost 2) loves stores like Home Depot and Lowes. The ceiling fan department is his favorite, and has been since he was about 6 months old. If I need to get out of the house I'll take him there, put him the shopping cart or baby carrier and just walk around. Free entertainment as long as you don't buy anything.

iowajes

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2017, 06:45:52 AM »
So maybe a little odd but my son (now almost 2) loves stores like Home Depot and Lowes. The ceiling fan department is his favorite, and has been since he was about 6 months old. If I need to get out of the house I'll take him there, put him the shopping cart or baby carrier and just walk around. Free entertainment as long as you don't buy anything.

My baby LOVES ceiling fans. I think the fan department would blow her little mind. Great suggestion!

(And when the kids are older Home Depot offer free workshops for them- I think as young as 3.  Lowes sadly discontinued their Build and Grow workshops.)

Hula Hoop

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Re: Cheap/free activities with baby?
« Reply #24 on: Today at 02:18:42 PM »
I had a one year maternity leave (I live in Europe) with both my kids so not exactly the same but I'm a very social person and wanted to meet other moms.  Here I what I did:

1) I organized my own informal get togethers with other moms.  The main one I organized was for other English speaking mothers and we met at a local café with outside seating when the babies were tiny and then in a park where the kids could crawl or walk around when they got older.  Another option would be to meet at people's houses.  I organized it through an expat site in my city but I'm sure you could do the same with meetup or a local website of some kind.
2) la leche league - I breastfed and joined LLL partly for BFing advice and partly to socialize and get out of the house
3) the local little kid friendly playground.  This worked better when the kids became toddlers but I managed to "pick up" a few mom friends in the playground near our apartment both local and foreign.
4) we don't have decent libraries here but my sister back home has had great luck with little kid story time at her local library.