1. STORYTIME! (AKA Children’s Programs)
From Toddlertime at the Phoenix Public Libraries to Shake, Rattle & Roll at the Scottsdale library Branches, to a number of interesting sounding programs for older children that my little guys are still to young to have tried, I simply love the children’s programs at our local public libraries. They are held several times a week, they are free, they are usually only about a half an hour (which is the perfect length of time for my boys’ attention span) and they are filled with music, toys, stories and learning. My children are always stimulated, educated and entertained… and a lot of them end with bubble-time! I mean, who doesn’t love a good book and a bubble free-for-all?
2. The 30 minutes before Storytime
I once strolled into storytime just a few minutes before it started and thus learned the hard way that for many of the library children’s programs “space is limited”. I vowed then and there that we would never again experience the disppaointment and humiliation of watching better, prompter mothers march in to the storytime room with their passports to fun and education (laminated free “tickets”) while we stood by empty handed. So now we always show up 30 minutes prior to storytime to ensure ourselves a spot. While I originally thought this would be kind of a pain, I have ended up loving this time. Sure I read to my kids at home, but usually it’s before naps or bedtime, when I’m in a rush to stay on schedule or just easily distracted. This 30-minute window at the library gives me a great chance to pull my little men onto my lap, grab a stack of books, and focus entirely on sharing my love of reading with them.
Though I really do love the library, I often find myself lost and kinda clueless as to how to navigate my children through it. Enter, the usually extremely kind and super helpful librarians. These are people who love books and children! Last week, a sweet childrens librarian saw my son dismiss a train book I was pushing and overheard my son saying that “books are for babies” (the ultimate insult a from the mouth of a 4 year old!) She quickly came to my rescue by presenting us with a stack of age appropriate books on Superman and Starwars (his favorites!) Thank you helpful librarian! My son again loves reading and I understand much, much more about the history of the clone wars!
Outside the local public library, I cannot think of a place that could be just as interesting and intellectually stimulating to my children as it is to me! Yes, I now do most of my reading on my Kindle. Sure, if I have a topic I’m curious about, I usually take it to google and find a great website or blog where I can learn more. But, I still love going to the library and knowing that I can pick up a book about almost anything in which I’m interested. I know I may only have a few minutes of children sitting patiently in their stroller while I peruse the stacks… but I do have a few and that’s just enough time to pick up a book on Paleo cooking, square foot gardening, or the latest biography of a scandalous politician. (Obviously, I am way too busy and tired to ever actually finish any of these books but I love that at least I checked them out!) Ahh….Someday!
5. DVD’s (yeah, I’ll admit it!)
I am filled with guilt when I think of my children sitting on the couch mindlessly entranced by the television. All I know about brain-development in these early years haunts me and repeats in my mind masked only by the sounds of Pixar characters and Disney channel themes songs. This is all of course unless, I happen to be at the library, then it’s “Sure, you can pick out 4 DVDs because you are 4 years old. Sounds fair to me!” I can’t pinpoint quite why, perhaps its all the reading and learning surrounding me a the library, but I remember that a few cartoons probably won’t kill my kids and sensibly proclaim “all things in moderation” as I exit the building with a bag full of books and a small stack of movies.
6. All items must be returned!
Isn’t it hilarious the way small children seem to want to read the same book, watch the same cartoon, hear the same song, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again? Well, hilarious, and super annoying! Where is baby’s belly button? It’s under her shirt! IT’S UNDER HER SHIRT! Lift up her shirt! I gaurentee you it’s there! Just like it was the last 47 times I read this book this week!!! (My apologies but my 18 month old is obsessed with that one!)
As amazing moms we indulge our children in this habit and repeatedly read them their favorites until we can say in our sleep, “In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon and a picture of…..”
But, the greatest thing about the library is that all items are simply checked out and sadly must be given back. Yep mom, take heart! You may have to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom a few dozen more times, but come this time next week, you’ll be dropping it in the “returns” bin and free of it forever!