Toddlers and a Midwest winter: some winter days, the thought of spending onemoresecond at home with my two [adorable, hilarious, but work-intensive] toddlers makes me want to climb the walls. And then, simultaneously, the very idea of wrestling them into winter coats is enough to discourage all nonessential travel. Everyday winter outings with my toddlers have to pass a “worth the coat” test, which, for me, requires the destination to meet most of the following criteria:
- cheap/ low-investment (there’s a chance we’ll stay for three hours or just fifteen minutes);
- safe, but physically exhausting;
- not especially crowded; and
- tolerant of chaos.
If you’re looking for toddler-friendly winter activities, here’s a few stops that appear “worth the coat.”
The YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne boasts impressive amenities for families, from fitness facilities and group fitness classes for adults, to toddler-friendly classes and a great child watch program. Parents can get a break (and a workout) while kids play at child watch, participate in free swim or free play, or let the kids participate in programming specifically designed for toddlers. Check out www.fwymca.org for facilities, class schedules, and activities.
Jefferson Pointe play area
Offers a great, free place for toddlers and small children to run, climb, and let off steam. Kids and their supervising parent must wear socks. Bring a picnic (and hand sanitizer).
Java Mama Fort Wayne
Java Mama offers free or low-cost playtime for the kids, quality food and coffee, and a tribe of other parents who have also been awake since 5 a.m. Open Play is free from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on Saturdays, with the purchase of a drink. There’s also a calendar of toddler-friendly classes, available for a fee.
Allen County Public Library
Most local branches of the ACPL include a weekday morning story time for babies and toddlers, with some including crafts or songs.
More than Gymnastics
Offers open gym for children under 5 on the first and third Fridays of every month, from noon-1:30 p.m., for $5 per child.
Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation
Offers programming for toddlers starting at 18 months. There’s a Jack and the Neverland Pirate-themed event with pirate games, craft, and a treat on February 26 from 9-9:45 a.m. for $17. Register here
Artlink Contemporary Gallery
Offers Early Art Exploration on February 20, 2016 (and later dates in the Spring) from 10-11:30 a.m,, which provides art projects for children ages 2-5. All of the creativity with no clean up duty! Cost is $10 for Artlink Members, $15 for the general public, with an additional fee of $5 for same-family siblings. Tickets available here.