It’s almost summer, and we’re thinking about what activities we can do with the kids and sans kids on date nights that are fun and meaningful without costing $14.99 per hour.
I (Mrs. FieryFamily) did not realize the boundless resources available at our local library until we had children. Unbeknownst to me, the library offers much more than just books, and you can save money by taking advantage of these opportunities.
While renting movies from cheap places like Redbox or Amazon Prime is cheaper than going out to the movie theatre, wouldn’t it be nice to watch the latest movies for free? (I’m assuming that you would never illegally download and stream movies, because the penalties for doing so are quite high.) The library offers at least a dozen recently released movies, and several hundred, if not thousands, of classic and popular movies. They also offer the classic Disney movies, which are super expensive to rent online. The best part? You can often keep these movies for up to three weeks, so you can plan your movie-watching in advance and have several options to choose from.
I discovered the music and soundtrack section of the library and my whole life changed. Instead of listening to NPR on my way to school or carpool and feeling dragged down by the dark and dreary news each day, I slip in The Greatest Showman, Hamilton, and Taylor Swift CDs and feel revved up for the day. Don’t get me wrong, though- I believe that listening to NPR is important because staying informed about the news is our responsibility as citizens of this planet. But hearing graphic details of a rape trial at 7:30 in the morning is a bit much- even for me. Anyway, music from the library. It’s there and it’s great.
If you haven’t played an audiobook with your children yet, then the following information will blow your mind. Have you ever been on a long car ride with your kids and wished that you could jump out of the window and land in a beach chair with a tall glass of lemonade as the wind blows through your hair? Audiobooks are kinda like that. Pop them in and just wait for your children to almost immediately stop bickering. You will hear the sweet sound of some random man or woman’s voice guiding you along your journey. Our local library offers hundreds of audiobooks, from Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and How to Train Your Dragon. The moment my kids get in the car, they ask us to turn on the audiobook. This is a great opportunity for 1) you to get some time to just think without having to resolve who threw the raisen at whom 2) the kids to be exposed to vocabulary and plots they would otherwise not encounter and 3) you and your kids to discuss the plot and meaning of the story. It’s a win-win, and the library offers it.
There are tons of free programs for kids and adults that are offered through the library. Craft activities, reading with therapy dogs, films, baby story time, preschool story time, music activities, knitting activities, manga mania, and book clubs, just to name a few. Please note that the activities for kids should not be considered babysitting. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to engage with your kids in a structured and fun environment. Each library offers different programs and you may have to reach out to a few local branches to see what’s out there.
Our library offers an array of technology that you can rent out for weeks at a time. I’m not a huge fan of giving phones and computers to younger kids, but I’m more flexible when it comes to educational purposes. The Playaway Launchpad is a kids’ tablet that has educational apps, advertisement-free, and is grouped by age and grade. And it’s available at our local library. How great is that?
Let’s not forget what the library is always filled with! No, not that socially awkward guy flipping through a golf magazine and hoping no one notices his staring at the lone librarian sorting encyclopedias. Not that guy. Books! A few words of advice: don’t give your kids books if they have a tendency to rip pages. And don’t, against your better judgement, call the library and ask if you can return a taped up book. It won’t end well for anyone.