...go to the library.
I saw this quote online the other day, and I felt like it summed up my adult life, especially now that I'm a mom! I've always been a library go-er...because it is FREE. We didn't have a lot of "fun money" or entertainment as kids, so playing outside and the library were kind of it for me. But then, as an adult, I realized how amazing it is to borrow something, and give it back, all for free. The honor code. It still makes me think humanity has good in us, because libraries still exist. Once I hit college, the library became my study hall, my place to do school work, and a place to tutor students. Once I started teaching, I picked up 6-10 students a week (yes... 6-10 extra hours of teaching math a week, on top of a full time teaching job!) because I liked tutoring, it was great cash, and I was in the library...which meant I could arrive early or stay late after tutoring sessions and find books. When we moved to Seattle, I got a library card ASAP... because when I find the library, it feels more like home. When we moved to VA, I had a library card within weeks. It is something I've always counted on, and always use: the library. But then... Ruby came.
And as a stay at home mom on a tight budget, the library became the BEST. PLACE. EVER.
As early as 5 months I was taking Ruby to baby story time. The closest library to us, Montclair Library, offered a 10:30am story time, but that was tricky, because Ruby was still napping twice a day, and usually morning nap was the 9-11am time frame. But after a bit of research, we found Potomac Community Library offered TWO sessions of baby story time, one at 10:15 and one at 11:15, and so even if Ruby slept until 11am, we could still make it to the 11:15 story time. And we've gone most weeks since then, for over a year!
Prince William Public Library System has been fantastic. I just wanted to take a moment and brag on our local libraries, because there isn't much I love about living in Northern VA, but I sure do love our library system. They offer...
Baby Story Time
Toddler Story Time
Music and Motion
Death Cafe (adults)
and SO MUCH MORE... its unbelievable. Check out their event calendar here. We even just go to the library (pictured: Montclair Library) to play in the kids section: read some books, check out different toys, etc.
We regularly attend Potomac's story time, because the timing works out great (we now attend the 10:15am session, so if anyone wants to come and read with Ruby D, do it!) and we have a favorite librarian: Mr. John! He is a blast at story time, or even just passing by in the library: he always has time for a hello to his baby friends. Here he is playing "catch" with Ruby!
Potomac has a unique baby story time, because each baby and parent get their own stack of books, and we read it together with the librarian. Puppets are often used too, for songs in between the stories.
Each parent also gets a paper of the stories and songs (with words printed!) so you can follow along, and take it home if you want. No other story time has been that fun.
At the end of story time (as is with most baby story times) the babies get to play with toys and each other, and the moms can chat and hang out. And typically, a great nap happens when we get home!
Potomac also has a great play area, and fish, which is a big hit for Ruby. She instantly runs into the library to look at the fish each time we visit!
We have found other activities at other branches that are super fun too. Baby Yoga was offered at several branches, and this was at the Chinn branch in October.
Since it was our first time at that branch, we discovered the turtle they have there... and that was SO COOL.
In July, I saw a petting zoo at the Independent Hill Community Library... and Ruby got to pet the goats and rabbits and calves, and feed them some carrots. Free of charge. She loved it!
Also in the summer, Dale City Library hosted a police officer and his dog, complete with a demo. Ruby, while young for much of the presentation before the demo, did enjoy watching the dog and getting to pet him.
Not pictured, we did attend a super fun concert at the Dumfries Community Library over the summer as well. Plenty of singing, dancing, and kid participation, and it was Ruby's first official concert. She wasn't too sure at first, but eventually warmed up to the tunes and got into the groove.
Montclair Community Library hosted a model train club this fall, and Ruby enjoyed seeing that too!
We also like out of town libraries... and while we can't take any books with us, we can still participate in their story times, play with their cool toys, and read their books. Here we went with Nanee over the summer to Westminster Public Library in MD. Sometimes,even when you're out of town, you just need to go to the library!
I still occasionally tutor at the library (once a week) and always try to go early, so I can browse the books. Being a stay at home mom and not working a "real" full time job allows me to have some time to actually read (unlike when I was teaching, and I would renew a book 4 times to finish it!). And sometimes, when I need a break from mom-ing, I tell Brock that I want an hour at the library, and I take the quick 10 minute drive and just relax among the books. Its the best.
So, when in doubt... feeling stressed, or bored, or not sure what to do? Check out your local library.