I am a horrible Bostonian — I hate winter. I do not want to ski. I do not want to skate on Frog Pond. If it never snowed again, that would be perfectly fine with me. From December to March, all I want to do is sit inside, curl up with a cup of hot chocolate, a fireplace, and a good book. Unfortunately, I have a toddler… so that will not be happening.
Life with a toddler seems so much harder in the winter. The daylight hours are shorter, it takes forever to bundle her up, and by the time we get outside, I’m freezing cold and want to go back in. Meanwhile, J still has plenty of energy to burn. My arsenal of summer concerts, playgrounds, and farms just won’t cut it in sub-zero temperatures. What is a MetroWest mom to do?
I have a few new tricks up my sleeve to tackle winter with my toddler this year:
Family Resources of Natick offers playgroups (sign up in advance) and open gym times. These groups provide a great atmosphere to meet other moms, dads, and caregivers in the area. The open gym times give the wee ones a huge space to run around, cause chaos, and burn off endless energy. My only complaint would be how quickly the time goes by. Early Childhood Alliance of Ashland/Framingham also offers a variety of child/caregiver playgroups, plus free family support and education opportunities.
Libraries are a mom’s best friend. Not only do they provide an endless supply of stories to capture your toddler’s heart, but they have added bonuses. Morse Institute Library in Natick is my go-to library for its great activity tables, an aquarium, and a puppet theatre. They have a great offering of activities during the week and on Saturdays, too. Also noteworthy is Natick’s Bacon Free Library, which, though small, did offer story times during the recent holiday break. The Wellesley Free Library hosts great family events at each of its three branches, including story hours, craft sessions, and concerts. Come to think of it, I’ve never met a library I didn’t like…
Indoor playspaces are another excellent option for the young folks. My personal favorite is Jam Time. With locations in Maynard and Natick, Jam Time provides weekday AND weekend hours, free open gym with class registration, and occasional sales on their open gym punch cards. They offer a bounce castle, climbing structures, slides, pretend play, and occasional special events. My daughter also loves the ball pit! Other fun indoor play areas include My Gym and Wellesley Tree House.
The Discovery Museums in Acton gives kids the opportunity to engage with hands-on exhibits — similar to Boston’s Children’s Museum, but without the hassle of the T or worrying about parking. It’s actually a composite of two museums — a science museum and a children’s museum. Likewise, the Ecotarium offers kids the chance to explore science and nature without heading on the Green Line. You could easily spend a day going through one small part of each museum. Membership, anyone?
No post about indoor life in MetroWest would be complete without a mention of the Natick Mall. To be honest, this has become our winter haven. With plenty of opportunities for mall walking, an indoor playspace for the kids, food and coffee options galore, an assortment of nursing and diaper changing venues, what’s not to love? Early in the morning, J can roam free, running all around, not having to worry about holding hands or getting lost in the crowds. She loves the motorized stuffed toys kiosk and checking out the toys at Learning Express. She also loves greeting the mall walkers as they start their day.
What are your MetroWest winter hotspots?