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How a local find has turned into double duty as time with kids plus stress relief for me.
Every Tuesday my 4 YO and I have a routine. We go to her gymnastics class, we have a quick lunch, then we head to the library. She loves the library. I can’t blame her–there are a million kid books, but they also have toddler-level and pre-school level activities plus kid-games loaded on computers. Oh yeah–and cool things like bean bags for them to settle into when they read their books. But what I think is the best part (besides books, obvs) is their gigantic pond/flower garden behind the library. And it was in this very garden that I discovered that sometimes you can actually find time with kids plus stress relief.
I’ll admit that I’m usually the cranky pants not wanting to give in when the kids start to whine about going somewhere. Internally it sets off the ‘Heck no’ meter just because of the tone of the whine. But the truth is, we are super fortunate to live in a rural-ish area that has the space, and the donors, to make this garden a reality in the first place.
When I say it’s really cool–I mean it’s honestly almost a mini-botanical garden. Like the kind you pay to go into. It’s kept year-round so that when spring through late fall hits, it looks absolutely beautiful. Donors keep adding little special areas that they can name (you know, since they forked out the green for it), and the city keeps adding extra special stuff that my kids go nuts for.
For example, there’s now a butterfly garden area that’s specifically got milkweed and certified as a Monarch Waystation. by …. There’s another area called the Story Walk Project where each book spread is on a post so you walk and read the story. There’s also the Lender’s library which is where people donate books they don’t want any more and anyone can check them out for free to read and then return.
Also, although the water is pretty murky in the pond, it’s FULL of turtles and ginormous koi fish–which my kids go ga-ga to feed every time! And my favorite part of the garden is in the very back. There’s a gorgeous waterfall nestled in the trees with a picnic table beside it. It’s the perfect place to rest at or have an actual picnic.
So what does this have to do with doing double duty as kid time plus stress relief?
1.The kids are in love with this place.
Ok fine, I’m in love with this place, too. But seriously, they love it so much, and if the weather is nice, they beg to come to it. There’s wildlife throughout (like the crazy huge crane that sails around the pond), and loads of beautiful flowers of all kinds. They love discovering new things every time we’re there, and they’re getting OFF the stupid electronics and INTO nature!
Plus the older 2 girls are super into this ‘pretend play’ thing all the time. Which I hear is good for brain development. So as long as they’re not ‘pretending’ to throw lil sis in the water, I’m all for it.
2. It’s educational.
Besides the fact that it’s full of books, the library also has kid magazines. Think: Highlights and Cricket, and some will have the tween ones as well.
And on the outside, our pond/garden has little plaques all over it that explain what the plants are. It also has cool explanations of the statues that occupy different areas of the garden. And–this is the best coincidence ever–the Museum that backs up to the garden is called Fernland museum. It’s comprised of these cool original houses from way long ago in the town’s history that have been moved into the park. And the library’s garden has two access points to it. So you can pretty much come and go as you please. The kids also love going in there and seeing all the antique homes, and the way people lived in the 1700s and 1800s.
3.It relaxes me to no end.
I don’t know what it is about this place… Maybe it’s the perpetual wafts of honeysuckle in the spring. Or the constant warm breeze that carries the roses’ scent in the summer. But something keeps me coming back, and makes me super calm. Visiting a garden doesn’t have the set parameters that forest bathing does, but it sure beats the heck outta sitting in an office lit with fluorescent bulbs. (Whether it’s a home office or away office.)
4.It’s basically one of the cheapest forms of entertainment for your kids around.
Books–free. Nature–free. Entertainment–free. Educational activities–free.
Seriously-if you’re tight on funds, and in desperate need of something to occupy the kids while you have some downtime, I totally recommend finding your local library. (Especially in the summer. They usually do a kids reading program and give free goodie bags when you sign up. And then kids get a prize if they complete the reading challenge.)
Another thing to think about is that they also carry a ton of magazines (like adult ones you like to read and unwind to). So you can absolutely go grab a few of those or any book they have that you’ve been wanting to read. Then just head on into the kids section and park it while the monkeys find a few books to read or activities to do! (I sometimes use this time to write blog posts as well! ?)
What kinds of things do you do that are double-duty for time with kids plus stress relief? (You know, short of a Disney Cruise.) Let me know in the comments below!
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