I spent some time this morning with two friends whom both recently had their second child. It brought me back to that time, not too long ago, when I was in that place in my life. When I gave birth to our second child, our first was only 20 months. She needed time, every day, to blow off steam and I needed some time out of the house to retain my sanity and not feel mommy guilt because my time was now split. For those of us who have been in this position, not just any place will do. The exits need to be secure and limited, the space needs to be safe and toddler friendly, you don't want them run down by big kids or constantly needing assistance. They need to be able to run free but still be in my line of sight while I sit and nurse the baby, and it can't cost an arm and a leg. Here is a list of some of my favorite places around town that checked those boxes for me.
There is a 7 years and under section that only has one way in and out. They can run between the bouncy castle, inflatable slide, trampolines, and even a playhouse. There are big comfy chairs where you can sit and nurse while retaining a visual on the oldest, and there is even a changing table so you don't have to drag everyone to the bathroom. This is definitely only a stop you want to make during the week (after work is great too!) as the weekends get crazy with birthday parties. Oh, and it's only $5!
If you haven't been since they did that huge addition, you should! They put a huge kids section in that includes digging for dinosaur bones, multiple interactive story times, crafts, blocks, and a whole water section where they can dip their hands and experiment with different toys and fountains, just to name a few. This too has only one way in and out and a family restroom inside so there's no need to pack up and travel far. The one time ticket runs $12 for kids and $17 per adult. An annual family membership is $110 so a few visits and it's worth it. Not to mention it's tax deductible and makes a great gift (hint hint grandma and grandpa).
3. The Alamo (Littleton and Sloans Lake)
This wonderful theater offers Alamo for All. Movies that are on Tuesday and Wednesday before 2:05 pm (excluding holidays) they invite you to bring your infant. They keep the lights up a bit and the sound down so you can enjoy a movie with your big kid while the little one sleeps away. Plus, they skip the advertising prior to the movie so no one gets too antsy.
4. Timbuk Toys
This thoughtful, locally owned toy store offers a story each week at 10:30 am at each of their locations. For more info on days and locations, visit here. Mr. Paul is amazing. He sings songs, does magic tricks, reads stories, and even makes a balloon animal for EVERY child. What's the cost of such an awesome event? Nothing! Timbuk Toys foots the bill so just enjoy :)
5. StoryTime & Crafts At The Library
This one you may already be aware of, but if not, check it out. My favorite is the Ross-University Hills library. They offer a craft time on Wednesdays and story time on Fridays. Both events are at no cost to you. Most Denver libraries offer one, if not both, of these so check out your local library for details.
6. Pizza Doodle
This little Centennial gem is tucked away in a strip near Southglenn on University. The staff is so kind, it's usually pretty quiet, and the toys are plentiful. The playroom offers the kids (8 and under) the opportunity to drive the firetruck, cook in the kitchen, or create a playhouse with their oversized waffle blocks. It's a great place to stop for lunch and catch your breath in a cozy booth while they go nuts in the playroom (which you can see from your booth ;) The kids also have the opportunity to make their own pizza with the special pizza kit they offer.
This is really a better fit if your oldest is 3 and up. It offers bouncy castles, inflatable slides, huge jungle gyms and a little kids section with playhouses and tunnels. The cost is $6 - $10 depending on their age. This is only for during the week as weekends are just for parties. What I love about this place is that there are multiple rooms. They're all laid out the same with the same activities but they make sure only so many kids are in each room so it never gets overwhelmingly crazy. They will be exhausted so save this for those days when you need a guaranteed nap! Oh, and no matter where you sit, you can always see where they are.
8. The Aquarium
It's basically next door to the Children's Museum which tends to make it a bit under the radar. The Children's Museum is amazing but it's always packed so I tend to avoid it. The Aquarium makes for a great day any day during the week but in particular on Wednesdays. Here's how you do it - Show up at 9:30 am and for $5 (for non members, members are free) you get to do a story time before the place opens to the public, which often includes an opportunity to get up close and personal with one of their animals. So you're also going to score a great parking spot. Story time then ends just as the aquarium opens (you'll need to buy tickets if you're not a member). It's basically just a long hallway so hang in the back with the stroller and let the older one do their thing. Take your time and wind around arriving just in time (11 am) to see the mystic mermaids do their show. It takes place at the big tank, just after you go through the tunnel. Sit on the carpet, bust out the snacks and enjoy the show. When it's over, finish your tour and head all the way around back (past the restaurant) to the lesser known Sharky's play area. I'm talking foam floors and big whales to climb on. Once you're finished there, eat lunch and you're ready for nap time!
Having one kid is tough and then when you add more to the equation, some days can feel nuts. It always made me feel like a better mom when I could give them a change of scenery and some new experiences. Don't forget about yourself either - it's important for you to get a change of scenery from time to time too. If it's time with your significant other you're looking for, Denver Date Nite is here to help. Let one of our savvy date planners put together a night that's all about the two of you.....or maybe just you ;)