Wednesday, September 12, 2012

FREE FUN: Let's Go To The Mall!

The reason for our trip to the mall:
Big Girl wanted a Girl Scout uniform for her bear!
Last Monday was the last day of summer vacation. Hubby was busy and I had three kids to keep in check. Big Girl had been bugging me for weeks to go to Build-A-Bear, and I finally relented under one condition: She had to use her own money.

She agreed, and so off we went to a mall that isn't the closest one -- we need a bigger shopping mall with a Build-A-Bear. I knew it would be crazy on Labor Day, but I figured it was a way to get out of the house and get a change of scenery. We packed some snacks and planned to browse a little beyond the dreaded stuffed animal store.

As I was walking around the mall, I decided that even though the funds are tight, the mall is actually a great place to go for FREE! If you can get past the temptations of all the wares around you, it's actually not a bad place to spend an afternoon with little ones who will still sit in a stroller. They look at people, Mom gets some exercise walking around, and there are a few attractions for the tots.

So let's go to the mall!

(I just had to post this video. If you are "How I Met Your Mother" fans you will will hopefully get a laugh!)

OK, back to our purpose of this post -- free fun at malls! Most malls have things like fountains, or trees, or elevators; some have free play spaces; and during the holidays there are plenty of decorations to see. The sights and sounds can be stimulating to little ones. And although my twins are not elevator fans just yet, this mall had two clear glass elevators that could seem fun to the right tots.

There are plenty of kid-friendly stores to enjoy at certain malls. My favorite?

The Disney Store, of course! Who doesn't smile when they see giant Mickey? Although I rarely buy much in The Disney Store (we don't NEED much there), being in this shop makes me happy and reminds me of happy memories at Disney World. The music, the film clips playing, and all the characters bring joy to all ages. Some stores even have things like storytime on certain days and times, or offer spots where kids can color a Disney picture.

We also took time to enjoy the front part of The Rainforest Cafe -- ours has a little gift shop, and you can see a talking tree, enjoy the rainforest sounds, see an faux alligator in a shallow lagoon.

And then there are the fish aquariums at the cafe entrance:

The twins loved these and probably could have watched them for hours. It was free entertainment without paying a lunch tab. And if your mall has a food court, you can sit down with a lunch packed from home for a meal outside of your own home.

Malls often have events for children during the day, or storytimes, etc. Look up your local mall's website to see if there is anything going on that is free for your little ones.

Now that Big Girl is in school, we might take a trip or two to the mall to just get out of the house, enjoy the sights and hopefully come home without shopping bags!

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