So, I’m feeling a little bit like I’m on a first date here…my heart is pounding, my palms are sweating, will you like me and what I have to share??? Well, like in any new relationship the future is unknown, but I’m hoping that with a little patience, practice, and time we will get to know one another and more importantly support each other during this journey called parenthood. So, here we go…let’s take it slow.
When I first decided to become a stay-at-home mom I had all these fantasies about how I would entertain my little bundle of joy once she arrived. My vision went a little like this…singing, patty-cake, dancing, reading, playing, cuddling, coloring, laughing and of course frequent play dates complete with coffee, juice boxes, and cookies (home made of course). Hopefully, some of this sounds familiar and I didn’t just lose you all on our first date…err I mean post. The point is I didn’t think beyond my own four walls until our little pink thing actually arrived. And lets face it parents – the first three months are like groundhog day…eat, sleep, change, eat, sleep, change…and sometimes a load of laundry, just to mix things up a bit. So, as my daughter grew and became more familiar with life in the real world I decided that it was time to break the cycle, get out of the house, and broaden both of our horizons. Besides, those imaginary play dates weren’t ever going to happen if we didn’t get out there and make some friends.
Since I’m not originally from here and didn’t have many friends with young kids I wasn’t sure where to begin. So, after much searching, inquiring and googling (yes – I totally googled “things to do with your baby in McAllen”), I have found some wonderful activities that my daughter and I both enjoy. Here’s my list and then some, and before you start wondering…no, I am not getting paid to mention any of these places…in fact I’m not getting paid at all – this is what you’d call a labor of love, much like parenthood 😉
Little Gym: We’ve been going to The Little Gym since my daughter was five months old and we LOVE it! Since she was a preemie she was a little behind when it came to physical milestones. By doing age appropriate exercises, play, and most importantly watching other kids she caught up very quickly and has made a bunch of friends. Their classes are well scheduled (for us at least) and if you miss a class you can make it up. Visit a location near you and participate in a free trial class.
Kindermusik: You’ll be singing praises…literally! Music is such a great way for our little ones to learn. Parents and children spend class time singing, dancing, playing instruments, and enjoying story time. If you’re not super comfortable belting out a tune in front of others don’t worry about it. The program includes take home materials (i.e. a CD, book, and instrument) so you can practice at home. Check out www.kindermusik.com and get in touch with a teacher and facility in your area.
The McAllen Public Library: This is truly a hidden treasure! The children’s book section is a modern, clean, and happy space with a large variety of books, CDs, and DVDs. They also have a slew of programs that you and your child can participate in. The toddler program is on Thursdays where you will enjoy story time, dancing, crafts and free play. There is also a baby class on Tuesdays for those with younger children. The best part…it’s FREE!!! Well, paid for by our tax dollars, but there’s no need to shell out extra mullah. Check out their website to find out what they offer and at what location.
Museums: I hear The Children’s Museum in Brownsville is great fun for everyone. I must admit that I haven’t been yet, but it’s on my list of places to go. I have, however, been to the IMAS museum in McAllen. They have an awesome outdoor playground, and a really great art center where they offer an art workshop daily. The Discovery Pavilion and Science on a Sphere are filled with educational fun for everyone. Adults pay a $7.00 admission fee and children 3 and under are free.
Bounce/Pump It Up: Both places offer some “open play” time for a small fee. It’s a fun way for your kiddos to get some energy out indoors (perfect for summer or rainy days). Children need to be at least two years old to bounce alone, but they do have some alternative forms of entertainment for the younger ones. Check out their websites and don’t forget your socks!
MOPS: This stands for Mother Of Preschoolers! This group meets every first and third Thursday of the month from 9 a.m.- noon at the First Baptist Church in McAllen. MOPS offers activities, outings, play dates along with support, positive parenting advice and special guest speakers to moms from all walks of life. There is a small membership and semester fee to join and participate. Here’s the website where I found the most information
Parks: I’m actually pretty impressed by the number of parks we have here in the area and most are equipped with at least one playground if not more. And, if you didn’t know already there is also a little splash park off of Zinnia and 29th. Talk about a cool way to play during the hot summer!
Between all these activities I find myself filling at least three out of the five working days a week…sometimes four if I go to the museum or park. Thus, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to my slice of the RGV pie.