Now that the weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter (don’t forget to set your clocks back this Saturday night!) the kid friendly activities are becoming limited. What do you do when you can’t play outside? Take advantage of your local mall! It had been forever since I last visited our mall, so I took the munchkins and went exploring–this is what I found. . .
10. Water Fountains
Almost every mall I’ve been to has some sort of indoor fountain. Most of the time the water “dances” or lights shine on it to make a rainbow. These are perfect to stop and look at for a bit; water is like magic and provides entertainment to everyone.
9. Pottery Barn Kids
PB Kids is the master of making you think that your child HAS to have that $300.00 oven replica. They put everything out on the floor so your kid can play and play which convinces you that if you buy it, you’ll get some free time to yourself while your child is still playing with it at home. Word to the wise–it usually doesn’t happen, the magic somehow fades when the toy is in the wee one’s room, but it is nice to kill some time at the mall with. Tip–check the PB Kids site for local store happenings–they usually do book clubs on Tuesdays and have concerts throughout the year–all free.
8. Kid’s Clubs
Check your local mall to see if they have a kid’s club that you can sign your child up for. In return for a nominal fee, your kiddo will get a variety of things like free cookies at a local bakery, a birthday club card in the mail, free lollipops at a participating store, discounts galore, etc. The offers change every month.
7. Indoor Playgrounds
If it’s been snowy or rainy outside and your child has to burn some energy, these indoor playgrounds are great. They usually have a variety of things to climb on, games to play, and a slide. There’s also comfy seating for the parents, a diaper changing station, and a nice Purell dispenser to use on the way out.
6. Coloring Stations
Look for an area that’s roped off with mini tables and chairs–there’s usually a variety of simple, easy-to-do activities that are offered for free. I’ve never seen anyone monitoring these, the activities are usually just laid out.
5. Toy Stores
Just like PB Kids, many toy stores have their large tickets items out on the floor so your children will be able test them out. You can almost always count on the train table, complete with every Thomas building imaginable, on display to your wee’s absolute delight. Another tip is to ask if the store offers any special activities; the toy store in my local mall offered “Thomas Nights” during the summer. They would move all the shelves to the side and create a gigantic train set in the middle where everyone would play. Thomas the Train movies would run in the background and everyone was given a plain, basic wooden train to take home. For free.
4. Quarter Rides
If your child is not old enough to know much better, you can get away with letting them “ride” the quarter rides without putting in the actual money. If they are old enough, have a few quarters stashed in your pocket so they can ride one, and climb on the others. This will give you at least 20 minutes of entertainment. If you’re lucky, some other child will get off early, leaving time for your child to hop on and use the remaining time.
3. Holiday Themed Events
During different holidays, make sure to check out the mall for special events, all of which are usually free. Some things I’ve seen are trick or treating on Halloween, ice rinks, trains, and carolers in the winter, as well as a store to store Easter “hunt.”
2. Mommy Rooms
If the loud music, banging, and people talking is getting to you, escape to the “Mommy” or “Lullaby” room (I’ve seen them called both). These rooms are like a breath of fresh air. There’s always a comfy couch, a television playing kid’s shows, a family restroom, and a diaper changing area. Perfect if you’re nursing, or if you have to change baby’s diaper and still need to rein in your older child.
1. Food Court
Whether you’re wanting a pick me up, are craving something sweet, or are in the need of a plain old bribe, nothing beats the food court. My Go-To favorite is Jamba Juice–my son hardly gets one, so it’s the lure of the smoothie that makes him easy to get in the car. A nice ending to what was (hopefully) a good time at the mall.
Afraid to go to the mall because the lure of spending is too much? Check out the Seahorse Lounge—Breezy Mama Linnea posted some info on how to get coupons–no matter what time of year it is.
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