I had four kids in under six years. For the first two years of my eldest’s life, I was a working mom. As soon as his little sister was born, we made the decision for me to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM). I remember naively thinking, “Oh, we will just cuddle and read books. We will go on walks and watch the clouds pass by. I don’t need to leave the house or spend money for activities. The world is our playground.”
WRONG! That dream all lasts about 3 days before you realize you are humming the theme song to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while you shower and that you have been referring to yourself in third person (Mommy) when you are talking to your husband. That fun game of little kid golf has turned into beating the bushes with the golf club thanks to your 2-year-old who no longer cares if the ball goes in the hole.
In summary, we need to get out and we need other humans--preferably adult ones.
That’s when the big question came – What do I do? Where do I go? How do I find other humans with small humans constantly attached to them too? After 6 years of being a SAHM, I finally have a list and I’m sharing it with you. Please pass it along. You may save someone’s sanity.
Tot Town at Shiloh Community Church (32nd Street, North of Union Hills)
Tot Town is large basketball gym literally filled with toddler toys – train tables, slides, bounce houses, doll houses, play kitchen, etc. It’s from 8:00-11:30 on select Wednesdays each month. It’s drop in so come anytime between the start and finish and stay as long as you want. Check their calendar out on their website or their Facebook page. The cost is $15/family/semester.
North Valley Gymnastics (28th Street and Rose Garden)
North Valley has an open gym class for kids under age 6. This means balance beams, bars, trampolines, bouncy floors, etc. They staff it with helpers and play fun kid music. It’s from 9:30-10:30 every Wednesday morning, except during school breaks (fall break, spring break, summer, etc.). For one visit the cost is $7, but you can purchase a 5-punch card for $20. This is definitely the way to go.
Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics FREE Baby Gym (32nd Street and Paradise Ln.)
Arizona Sunrays is another open gym class, but it’s only for kids 6 months – 18 months old. It’s free on Wednesdays from 9:30-10:00.
Mom’s Morning Out – Desert Springs Christian Preschool (Tatum and Paradise Ln.)
Moms Morning Out is is for kids aged 18 mo. – 5 years old and is from 9:00-12:00 on Mondays and Thursdays. The cost is $10/child for the morning and you sign up online ahead of time. This is a drop-off and your chance to run errands, schedule doctor appointments, etc. all while knowing your sweet little one is being taken care of.
Library Story Time
You can visit the website for the City of Phoenix Library System, but this was my favorite when I had younger kids. Depending on your location, there are classes on different mornings of the week and at different times. These are normally sweet times where you and your child listen to stories, sing songs, practice letters, sign language, and other educational skills. I highly recommend these classes and of course, they are free!
Playgrounds Fun Zone
Playgrounds Fun Zone is a favorite for my family. It’s located at 83rd Ave. and Union Hills and you can literally be here all day. It’s geared toward kids under age 10 and has play areas for babies and toddlers. It’s basically a McDonald’s play place, but bigger, cleaner, and with much better food. They have coffee and a café with breakfast and lunch items for a reasonable price. They even have WIFI so if you need to get some work done while the kids play you can. The price is $11 for kids 2-10 and $6 for kids 6 mo. – 2. They offer a sibling discount and have discount days and punch cards you can buy too.
Mall Play Area
We love the play area at Paradise Valley Mall. It’s geared for kids 5 and under and a great place to cool off during the hot months. It’s located near Starbucks so grab your coffee and have a seat while the kids burn some energy. My family is full of early risers and even though the stores don’t open until 10am, the mall itself actually opens it’s doors at 7am. We hit that place early and often!
So back to my “the world is our playground” idea… We love the park between November and March. When choosing a park look for one with a bathroom, some shade, and lots of different structures to play on. Our favorite is Aviano Community Park because they have a large grass area right next to the playground. We get there early, pack and lunch and even bring a pop up sun shade so we can stay well into the afternoon. Desert Moms also has a full list and description of local Valley parks!
I personally have never done Stroller Strides, but lots of moms do! They are offering our tribe a free week of classes too. Check them out for prices, locations, and dates. It’s a workout and a great place to meet new mom friends.
Don’t forget your own neighborhood. I met some of my best friends 6 years ago while out walking in our neighborhood with my kids. We started chatting, exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history! You can schedule play dates with each other, organize walks together, and even meet some new neighbors. I’ve actually been known to stalk the moving van in an effort to meet other moms and invite them on walks!
This is a more organized way to meet moms and have your kiddos make some friends in their classes. MOPS is typically hosted a few times a month in the morning and includes great breakfast, speakers, and other events. It’s aimed specifically for moms of preschoolers.
I know this list isn’t all of the many options here in Phoenix. (I live in North Phoenix and this list reflects that.) Drop your favorite in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!