9 Rainy day things to do out of the house with three kids for under $9: (Quite the title, huh?)
1. Find yourself a nice big bookstore. Most large bookstores now have coffee shops inside, and in the children's section, a small area with toys for toddlers. We often will split a Venti hot cocoa between the 4 of us and play there for a couple hours reading books. *Total cost: $4 *Eco-friendly: Absolutely! There isn't too much bad you can say about books.
2. Get a membership. We have one to the Children's Museum, the Zoo, and NW trek. We ask for these memberships (or donations to go towards them) for birthdays and Christmas gifts. It is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Then when we start to get stir crazy we can get out of the house for free. We usually bring a packed lunch and make a day of it. *Total cost: $0 *Eco-friendly: If you remember to take your trash with you it gets 10 out of 10.
3. Story hour at the library. Most public libraries have story hours for each age group. We usually go to the ones for my youngest child (2 years old) and then the other kids just hang out in their sections of the library reading books. *Total cost: $0 (Ok, maybe a couple library fees.) *Eco-friendly: Doesn't get better than this.
4. The mall playplace. Many malls have started adding play places into their corridors for the youngest in the crew. Alex and I bring books and Cyan and Logan play. Most of the time we split a Jamba Juice, but it isn't a necessity. *Total cost: $0 (w/juice $4.82) *Eco-friendly: Mostly... I am not a huge fan of the germs that run around those places, but remembering some good hand washing skills and I think it passes the test.
5. Find some big water. On the nicer days around here we head to the beach/lake areas. The key with rain is; if it is a drizzle, the kids won't melt. But in a downpour, I move on to other ideas. Sometimes rainy days are the best times to be outside as it is much less crowded and you can see way more of the local wildlife than you would on a sunny weekend day. Make sure to bring nature packs or binoculars. And bringing snacks is essential, but we have been known to stop at a local burger joint and pick up a couple baskets of fries. *Total cost: $0 (w/fries $6) *Eco-friendly: Sure... Just don't feed the birds. ;)
6. Find yourself a nice big box. Cardboard can be such a treasure. If you call ahead, most Sears, Home Depot, or other of those types of stores have large boxes from display model washers and dryers on hand. Getting and bringing home a treasure like that will thrill even the older kids! When you find one you can make a whole world in your own living room. A friend of mine is a pro at this. She has made trains (like real looking trains) and airplanes from her cardboard boxes and her kids play in them for days. *Total cost: $0 (or 20 minutes on the phone) *Eco-friendly: Completely! Recycle, recycle, recycle.
7. The gem of a toy store. Yeah. Toys R Us is fun, but most of the time, it is the small expensive toy stores that you really fall in love with. We usually will pick up kids apple ciders from Starbucks and head to the toy store downtown. It has playmobile table, a train table, a wooden kitchen, and all sorts of other things for the kids to play with while they are there. It is harder to get out of here without buying something than the bookstore. But I can usually do it. ;) *Total cost: $3.49 *Eco-friendly: The least on the list and still isn't bad.
8. Local farm. Almost every town has one. It just takes finding it. Some of them are really kid friendly and others are not so much. We have two kid friendly ones within 30 miles of us and I consider us very lucky. One is a great place to take the kids to feed the goats, chickens, and pigs and pick up some great free range eggs, and the other has a farm store where I get most of my produce and their eggs are also free range and divine. *Total cost: $1 for goat food if your lucky... and maybe $3 for fresh eggs. *Eco-friendly: Local farms are usually pretty planet friendly... but you may want to check what their growing practices are.
9. Window shop at a pet store. Talk about easy to leave with nothing. lol! I doubt any one will consistently come home with a new Fido or Fluffy, but the kids LOVE these stores with a passion. The fish wall alone can be an hours worth of entertainment... McDonald's and TV free. :) We don't bring food to the pet store, but sometimes like to make iced-tea for the car trip. *Total cost: $0 *Eco-friendly: Yep. Nothing spent, nothing thrown away.