Four Free Ways To Socialize Your Stay At Home Child in Lafayette
In a couple of months, I will be finishing up a 9-month sabbatical that I took from my job. After having my second baby in November, I also pulled my 3-year-old toddler out of daycare in order to stay home with both of them for a sweet, short period of time before returning to work this upcoming fall.
When the idea and logistics for taking a sabbatical presented itself, I was so content with my decision to take the opportunity. I knew that my children will only be little for a short time of their childhood, and work will ALWAYS be there.
The beginning of my sabbatical started out as a basic maternity leave, which consisted of the typical sleep deprivation from a new baby’s sleeping patterns, cluster feeding, and lots of baby snuggles.
An added addition to my situation became how to entertain an energetic and chatty toddler as well as take care of my new squishy baby. I also quickly learned that the energetic and chatty toddler was craving socialization with children her own age since her mother (me!!) had a limited capacity for play due to the addition of a new child and sheer exhaustion. Also, her newborn sister wasn’t exactly much of a playmate yet.
It was here when I learned that my sabbatical was going to be twofold – one large component was going to be taking care of my new baby, and the other component was going to be figuring out how to socialize the toddler on a daily basis! And by the way, how to do it for free, since we were now down to one main income.
Here are some FREE ideas on how to socialize your toddler or baby that is staying home with you.
If you are not already aware, the Lafayette Public Library system is a gold mine of activities for our littles. Find out your local branch’s storytime hours, and keep that in your calendar as a staple every week.
Storytime is a perfect event to bring your toddler to on a weekly basis. It is a great place for your child to practice structure and socialization through the storytime segment, songs, nursery rhymes, counting, and even sign language!
Most storytimes have a “stay and play” or craft segment at the end, where children and guardians are invited to stay longer to participate in playtime or help their child finish a craft. This is a more unstructured time where children have the opportunity to play and socialize with the other children in attendance.
Acadiana Baby Steps
Acadiana Baby Steps is a walking group for moms and children (babies through preschool age) that meets every Wednesday at Moncus Park at 9 am. The walk begins at the Veterans Memorial and ends around 10 am with a picnic near the playground.
The vision of this walking group is for moms to be able to socialize together, as well as the children! Acadiana Baby Steps is a great way to meet and socialize with other stay at home moms and children in our community.
Parks & Splash Pads
Lafayette is growing rapidly with the number of parks and splash pads that are available for our children. Parks and splash pads are open to the public on a daily basis, and are often filled with other moms just like you who are trying to occupy and socialize their children!
If your child makes a friend on the playground, encourage them to continue playing together! Follow basic safety precautions such as monitoring their play, following small children up play structures, and not allowing your child to wander off with their new friend without your supervision.
The bread and butter of any socialization for your children are definitely play dates. When you meet other children that your children hit it off with (or other moms you hit it off with!) at the library, the zoo, walking groups, etc., get the other mom’s number and invite them over for a play date!
The perfect play date does not have to be anything fancy. Designate a safe, child-proof area in the house such as the living room or the backyard, pull out a few toys, and chat with the other child’s mom while you watch the kiddos play! Your child will benefit from the socialization, and it will be a great opportunity for your child to practice conversation skills, sharing, social cues, and patience.
Another key to a successful play date is SNACKS. The children will inevitably get a little hungry and cranky during the play date, so make sure to have snacks and juice as fuel for your child and their new friend. It also won’t hurt to have coffee and muffins for the moms! 🙂
Try to schedule 1-2 ideas off of this list for you and your child on a weekly basis. Your child is benefiting in many important ways from the time spent at home with you! One of the ways you can continue to cultivate their development is through play with other littles. What a gift to be home with your child and watch them develop sweet friendships!
About the Author
Allison is a mom to two precious girls, Leigh and Rhylan, and a wife to Ian. They live together in Lafayette, Louisiana. Allison graduated from UL in Elementary Education, and has been working in the education system since 2013.
Her daughters are constantly teaching her that motherhood is the greatest and most challenging gift that she will spend a lifetime trying to figure out.
You can frequently find Allison arranging play dates (and mom dates) for herself and her girls, drinking coffee, reading, trying to squeeze in time for a creative outlet, and enjoying her husband’s cooking!