Our Favorite Places for Free Family Fun

ARGGH! It’s September!

Of course we mean, phew, the kids are back at school and everything, but, arrrrrgh, where has this year gone?

It’s that time of the year where you let out a big sigh over the total cost of summer entertainment and back to school prep. And then an even bigger sigh when you think about the calendar dates crammed in to the next few months- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and then Christmas and New Year.

So ultimately it’s that time of year where FREE or low cost family fun ideas are most welcome.

Luckily for us, our year round sunshine and wealth of beautiful beaches means that we have a lot of free outdoor options for families, as well as indoor, (Buccaneer Beach and Moonlight Beach are the best aren’t they? We’re so lucky!). But beaches and sand filled cars aside, here are our top FIVE cash friendly favorite places in the County:

 

  1. ALTA VISTA BOTANICALvista-botanical GARDENS:

A little closer to our Vista home than the San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas – and a little smaller – the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens is full of character and charm. And is still evolving. It’s beautiful, varied, peaceful (even with little ones in tow) and offers some striking views of the local area. While not all pathways are stroller friendly (some are steep and uneven!), you can work around the garden with wheels. It is very kid friendly – in no walking distance at all, right by the entrance, you will find a stroller friendly music garden for the kids (adorable!), play tunnels, a butterfly tepee and a picnic area. Best of all, the gardens are also bursting with sculptures – imagine your kid’s face as they turn a corner and discover a giant metal T-Rex, a Scorpion or a Giraffe (The metal artwork is by Ricardo Breceda).

Admission is $3 based on the honor system – bring your own lunch, walking shoes, hats and sunscreen and that’s a cheap and beautiful lunch date with the kids – plus a few dinosaurs here and there.

1270 Vale Terrace Dr, Vista.

 

  1. LOCAL LIBRARY:

Beyond visiting your local library to check out new bedtime tales, don’t forget to check out their events calendar too, either on site or online. We have some fantastic libraries in the County, offering regular story time, arts and crafts, kids’ yoga, family movie nights – even programs that will let your little ones read to cuddly dogs (awwwww!). All FREE of charge.

Various locations.

 

  1. BATIQUITOS LAGOON:

Once you hit the trail and are out of sight and sound of the I-5, this FREE ecological reserve is a gem. It is bursting with nature and bustling with hikers, dog walkers and families on an adventure stroll. Most of the trail is stroller friendly and there are plenty of little bench stops for tired little legs, or snack attack breaks. (Note, bicycles are not allowed). The public walking and hiking trail is about two miles long and you can pick up a pamphlet at the educational center which helps you know what animals and plants to look out for.

……And for those that might care, we’ve been told there is a bunch of Pokemon to pick up on the trail. So you could always make it a family Pokemon Go hunt. The older ‘littles’ will LOVE that!

7380 Gabbiano Lane, Carlsbad.

 

  1. WATERFRONT PARK

Bring a tent, hats, sunscreen, swimwear and a picnic and just spend an afternoon relaxing on the beautiful lawn in front of the water fountains and play area. Completely FREE. And if you want to avoid parking drama, you can always make it a real adventure and take the scenic Coaster train down to Santa Fe Station and simply walk to the park. It’s not far at all – and so much fun!

1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego.

 

  1. FREE MUSEUM DAYS

How many of us remember to take advantage of the free museum days? So many of the main city museums, including the New Children’s Museum and the Natural History Museum, offer San Diego and County residents FREE admission on select days each month – to find out which days are free, visit http://freemuseumday.org/sd.html

And take note, this October, San Diego Museum Council invites kids to explore even more of San Diego’s diverse museums – for free! From October 1-31, children ages 12 and under receive free admission with a paid adult (limit 2) at more than 40 museums including Birch Aquarium at Scripps. For more info and to download the coupon, visit http://www.sandiegomuseumcouncil.org

Various locations.

 

So that’s our top five….but we’re also throwing in an extra one for you for free of charge. Number 6: LOCAL STORES! Like us. Keep your ear to the ground and follow your favorite family stores on Social Media to find out if and when they might be hosting some FREE in-store entertainment. We do regular events like complimentary baby and toddler story time for example, (check out our events calendar here for dates), while stores like Wild Birds Unlimited on El Camino Real host regular live animal presentations, which both the kids and parents will love!

Have fun out and about guys!

 

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Bittersweet Social Media

Thank goodness for the likes of Anne Hathaway, Chrissy Teigen and Blake Lively! We’re naming but a few celeb moms who are publically shutting down mom body shamers:

“There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever),” posted Hathaway on Instagram recently. “There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer’s are just too dang short for this summer’s thighs….Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink… It’s all love (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.) Peace xx #noshame #lovewhatyouhavebeengiven.”

Amen to that Anne! No shame.

Isn’t it crazy,…actually scrap crazy. Isn’t it infuriating that a mom body defence is even needed at all? Isn’t it insane to think of how people will use social media for spiteful remarks? To people they don’t even know.

Every new mom will know that you already feel a stranger in your own body post birth. It’s different. Unfamiliar. The last thing you need is external judgement or expectations. We think actress Kerry Washington said it best when she said post birth that: “My body is the site of a miracle right now. I don’t want to be pre-miracle.” YES! Let’s have some more of that pride please!

A mom body needs to be celebrated for what it has done. What it is capable of. Not what it currently looks like. Or should look like according to some Hollywod standard. And we’re glad more and more celeb moms are using their high profile to draw attention to mom shaming and pressures. Particularly across their own personal social media accounts.

But that’s the trouble with social media isn’t it? It’s an amazing place for support, friendship, tips and laughs. Even the occasional tiredness vent. But it’s also rife with judgement, competition, boasting and a tiring sense of superiority. It can be a parent’s best friend AND worst nightmare all in one. If you let it, it can leave you feeling like a failure and fuel that darn mom guilt that follows us around everywhere.

So remember, be careful how you use social media and who you surround yourself with in this online space. Especially in the early months and years. Stop reading those articles which are telling you that you are doing it wrong. Those articles who congratulate new moms for losing that baby weight like it’s a must. They don’t know you or your baby. Stop engaging with those people who are making you feel small. Just remember not everything looks as perfect as people try to portray. Just take the good from social media – the support, the tips and the cuteness overload.  And be proud of what you and your body have achieved. And who YOU are as a loving parent.

Just like the wise ol’ Dr Suess said: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.  Love yourself. Love your babies. Love your style. Embrace changes as you grow and enjoy the ride! Your way. Always.

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What You Need to Know About Baby & Me Yoga

mom-baby-yogaWhile it may have felt like your little wriggly one was already practicing yoga moves in utero, once they’ve arrived, there really is no better time to think about starting yoga.

Yes, we know, energy and time can be in scarce supply postpartum. So the thought of a mama and baby yoga class (not to mention the thought of putting on exercise clothes) from six weeks, might be daunting. Even stressful. Will I strain myself too soon? Where will I feed baby? What if my baby cries and interrupts the class? What about diaper changes?

But it’s not about putting stress on you, your body or your baby. The right classes offer an inclusive, safe environment. All other parents will be in exactly the same position, with exactly the same worries. If baby cries, no one will judge. If you need to stop and feed baby, go for it. This type of yoga experience is all about destressing and reconnecting with your body. It’s about creating new bonding experiences with your baby. A real win-win for both mom and baby:

Here are our 5 top reasons to give mama and baby yoga a try:

  • NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY: Don’t worry if you weren’t able to fold yourself in to a pretzel pre-baby. It doesn’t matter. No prior skills or yoga knowledge is necessary for new parents to enjoy and benefit from this experience.
  • BONDING TIME: It offers you dedicated time where you can both relax. Remember, your baby will relax when you relax! Joint relaxation is so powerful in strengthening connections and non-verbal communication.
  • BETTER SLEEPERS: Yoga promotes MORE and BETTER sleep. Hooray! Short classes offer just the right amount of stimulation they need to help them sleep for longer stretches. If that’s not good news enough, tactile stimulation has also been show to contribute to the development of the brain and nervous system.
  • BETTER DIGESTION: Yoga stimulates all of baby’s bodily systems including the digestive system. It’s been known to help keep babies contented between feeds and also alleviate wind and colic too.
  • GOOD FOR MOM: Yoga can be great for mom’s all important emotional wellbeing. Not only is parenting hard and stressful at times, for new parents especially, it can be darn scary. Yoga gives moms time to relax and refocus via breathing exercises and focused stretches. And let’s be honest, parenting can also have its lonely moments too, so classes like this are a great way for parents to get out, socialise, support and find a healthy balance.

If this sounds good to you, we offer an all-levels Mama and Baby Class at Babies in Bloom, suited for 6 week olds to crawlers – check out the next few dates on our calendar. All you need is a yoga mat and blanket for baby to rest on.

Our wonderful instructor Holly also recommends some helpful home resources if you want to bring the yoga experience and relaxation vibes home – the Itsy Bitsy Yoga series and Yoga Pretzel Cards.

Enjoy and Namaste!

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Date Night Post Baby

“You still need to make time for date nights…..”

We’ve all read this somewhere. Heard it from someone. Maybe rolled our heavy eyes at the thought of it while folding the never-ending baby laundry and simultaneously nursing.

The truth is, it is HARD. Especially in the early months. Hard to find the time. Hard to find the energy. Sometimes hard to find the money. Hard to find the motivation. I mean, how many sleep deprived parents do you know that would opt for a night out vs an early night in if they got the offer of ‘free time?’

Yes, it is absolutely hard. But it’s not impossible.

It just takes more planning – because there is no more going out on a whim. But that’s ok, it’s something to really look forward to isn’t it?

It takes more determination – because you DO know deep down that it is worth it and that it will recharge you in the long run.

And it takes a lot more expectation management. Because most likely, it won’t be like pre-baby dates. There will be nerves (oh so perfectly normal!). Countless urges to ‘check-in’. There might be sitters to go back early for. And pay! And there will almost certainly be more yawns and less wine in anticipation of those early feeds, wake up calls and whiffy diapers. Baby and hangover = just not worth it!

But just because it will be different to pre-baby dates won’t make it any less special. Or essential. You are both finding your feet in this new life-changing role – and even though you might not think it, you are both doing just great! You DO deserve a break every now and then. A chance to recharge and reminisce on why and how you first became a happy couple, and then smile at how beautifully your story has evolved.

We certainly aren’t love experts, but have had our fair share of nerves, tears and hesitations, so from our experiences, here are a few tips on how to enjoy those first few post baby dates:

  • Choose a sitter you are completely comfortable with – a family member, a close friend, or a highly recommended sitter. Having utter faith in your sitter is essential in your efforts to relax and recharge. And don’t forget to set clear expectations BEFORE you leave on IF and WHEN you will be calling them OR want them to message you – this saves you racing home in a panic when you can’t get a hold of them, only to find them rocking your baby gently to sleep with their phone on silent in their bag.
  • Keep it simple – Date night doesn’t need to be fancy. It can be anything from dinner and a romantic stroll on the beach, to a local coffee, candy on a park bench or a Pokemon Go hunt! We won’t judge! It doesn’t matter, the important thing is you’re spending time together. And if you really aren’t ready to leave baby, then don’t worry. If you force yourself to go, you won’t enjoy it, so why not just plan a special dinner or indoor picnic at home once the baby is down?
  • Keep it local – You will feel better knowing you are only ten minutes from home if needed, so don’t stray too far the first few times. Build up your confidence.
  • Don’t put so much pressure on yourself regarding how you look – and that’s easier said than done in the early months when your body doesn’t feel like your own. Just remember, your body is your family’s life story. It is capable of amazing things and can and will change. And as for your husband, he watched in aww as you brought life in to this world – he thinks you are an absolute goddess, however you might feel about yourself right now.
  • Try not to talk shop – Ok. It’s completely unrealistic to say you won’t talk at all about your tiny new bundle. You are both smitten after all. But try and limit it. Use your date night as a chance to reminisce, gossip and reconnect over shared interests.

Have fun lovebirds! You deserve it.

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