I have a mild severe obsession with libraries. I know you know libraries exist, but I want to make sure every mom out there knows about these eleven things that make them so amazing for anyone bringing up a child of any age.
1. Free toys
I used to think of books when I thought of libraries, but now my first thought is toys. Walk in to any children’s area and you’ll find puzzles, trains, and so many more things to play with. Don’t want to buy that Melissa & Doug cube thing for home? Take your baby to play with it at the library whenever you want. No rental fee 🙂
2. Free classes
This is my favorite free hack ever! *Free* children’s programming. There are SO MANY great events going on every week for kiddos of all ages. No need to pay for a weekly music class – your library already has one! Activities really add up but if you look at all your surrounding local libraries (I search the events calendars of the six or so nearest towns), you can create a full schedule for zero dollars.
3. Pit stops
Libraries are an awesome place to take a break on a long car ride. Whenever my baby wakes up in the backseat, I just type “library” into my GPS and go to the nearest one. Since every town has one, there’s always one within 10 minutes. Walk into any library, any town, any state and just head to the children’s area. I let my daughter crawl around, get some energy out, read some books, and play with some toys to break up the drive. There’s always a chair we can nurse in and a bathroom with a diaper changing station. I almost can’t believe these magical oases exist.
4. A place to get out of the house for your sanity
Rainy day = library day. I get out of the house with my 10-month-old every afternoon. I have to do it for me more than her. If we had to pay for a baby gym or children’s museum every time we wanted a playspace, forget it. To mix things up we go to any library within about a half hour of home which is well over a dozen options.
5. A place to meet other kids and parents/caregivers
Social interaction for both of us is so important. I bring my daughter to libraries in part so that she can see the other kids crawling and walking and learn how to interact with them (we don’t pull hair, dear). And parents are always ready to swap tips and compare experiences meeting strangers in a communal place like the library.
6. You can check out more than books
I never knew this til I became a mom, but libraries also have kits and other stuff you can check out with your library card besides books. Some libraries have boxes or bags on a theme you can take home — themes like siblings, animals, or colors. At West Hartford you can check out toys to borrow!
7. Museum passes
I haven’t even used these yet but you can get discounts on museums and all kinds of other places that charge admission. Just ask at the Information desk.
For you in the car or for your kid falling asleep after you can’t read them just one more, you can rent audiobooks from the OverDrive app through your library.
I usually watch movies somewhere like Netflix but if you don’t want to pay for an Amazon rental or iTunes purchase or however you buy kids’ movies, you can rent them FREE (sensing a theme here?) from your library.
My daughter doesn’t use computers yet, but there are kid-specific computers for use at most children’s areas of libraries. Really nice option if you don’t have a desktop at home (or you do but you don’t want your kid using it).
Duh! Read them while you’re there, take out a dozen to bring home, or both. Board books, picture books, chapter books, YA books – Libraries obviously have this department covered. We own a lot of books but you know they get so old so fast. There’s only so many times the hungry caterpillar can stuff himself full of junk food before you just want to put the book down and get a snack.