Life as a stay-at-home mom has been a whole new world for me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been going, going, going. To be in this phase of life, where the only schedule I have to live by is the one I create, is very different for me. It is so easy to create a daily or even weekly itinerary for myself that never takes me or my child out of our house: the laundry is never-ending, the animals are always shedding, the dog is always tracking in grass, the dishwasher always needs loaded, emptied, or run, and the list goes on and on forever.
Since my now-two-year-old was just a few weeks old, I’ve done my best to get out of the house at least once a day. When she was an infant, I would usually go walk somewhere alone or with a friend. We would walk around the mall, a park, or Target—anything to get us out of the house. Now that my daughter is a toddler who’s rapidly approaching the “little kid” phase, we are able to do a lot more things together. Sure, we have playdates with our friends, but I really like our mommy-and-me dates where we do something just the two of us. For the sake of not breaking the bank, I try to keep these as close to a budget of $0 as possible, but I cap it at $15-20. I’ve compiled a list of my best cheap toddler activities to share with my fellow moms to encourage everyone to get out of the house with their little(s)!
Penguin Days at the Dallas Zoo
During the months of January and February, admission to the Dallas Zoo is $7 a person, and kids two and under are free. Parking is $10, but you can also ride the DART rail to the zoo. I took my daughter last year just after she turned one, and look forward to taking her again this year! Last time we went, we only made it through half the zoo before Addison was ready for a nap, but at a price of $7 for admission, this didn’t really bother me. Now that she is two, I imagine we will be able to visit all of the animals and I’ll probably have to tell her when it’s time to leave!
Lunch and a trip to the park
My daughter LOVES going to the park. We are always looking for the next best park because she loves them so much. There are three different playgrounds within walking distance of our house, which is very nice, but we also like driving to parks, too! We go to Hope Park in Frisco, Celebration Park in Allen, and Towne Lake in McKinney, if you’re looking for somewhere to start. As for lunch ideas, did you know kid’s meals at McAllister’s are just 99 CENTS?! I didn’t know this until VERY recently and let me tell you, it’s changed my life. I can go and get whatever meal for myself and then a FULL KID’S MEAL for Addison for 99¢. It seriously blew my mind when I realized this was a real thing. And then, after ordering, they bring the food to your table for you! Any place that brings your food to your table is a good one in my book. I don’t have to escort my small child around a restaurant with a tray of food in my hands? Excellent.
Mommy Mondays at Movie House
This week, I was finally brave enough to take my daughter to the Movie House and Eatery in McKinney. Every Monday until 2pm, they host what is called Mommy Mondays. You can bring babies and small children to a movie with you and the volume is a little lower and the lights are left dim, but on. What a game changer! We went to the first showing of the day of the Disney Pixar movie, Coco. My ticket was $6 and Addison was free! Certain appetizers are half-priced until 6pm, and what I ordered (the French toast) was around $6 and included bacon, strawberries, and blueberries! With my ticket, our food, and the tip for the server, I spent $20. The theater was completely empty, so Addison had the freedom to get out of her seat as she pleased to stand from time to time. She is a well-behaved kid, so we didn’t have any issues, but it was nice to have an experience tailored to her needs. The server only visited us when I pushed the button to call them (or Addison pushed the button without me catching her), so there wasn’t too much to distract her from eating and watching the movie. I’d definitely recommend this as a test-experience if you’re wondering how your child will do sitting still for an hour or so at a time.
I love taking my daughter places. We try to go on an “adventure” every day, even if it’s just to Target to walk around. I fully encourage everyone to get out of the house with your kids! Go to the park. Walk around the block. Visit your partner at work. Have lunch with a sibling at school. Getting out of the house has always been good for us and I’m sure it will be good for you, too! As long as they’re cheap toddler activities, they’re doable, easy, and are such a great way to bond with your littles.