especially when you live in a teeny tiny town, like, population less than 2,000 town. We are about an hour from the closest big city, and at least 20-30 minutes from the closest city that has amenities such as a YMCA or public pool, gym, etc. Even the closest decent grocery store and department store is 25 minutes away (Yes, we pretty much live on Amazon Prime). So like I said, finding things to do for fun can be hard!
So, because Mama doesn’t feel like spending her life in the car, driving all over creation for the next activity, we have to get a little creative sometimes about finding things to do to keep the kids busy while staying close to home.
Here’s some strategies we use to find local events to participate in. Maybe your town has locations similar to our tiny town and you can use them to find things to keep your kids busy too!
1. Public Library
Yes, we have a public library, and although it’s slightly outdated in some areas, it’s a nice one. They often have events for our kids, including reading for kids, book clubs, and even computer coding events. We are constantly checking their schedule for anything the kids can do after school.
2. State Park
We have a lovely State Park here in town. They don’t have a TON of events, but things like birding or guided hikes or fishing with a ranger are fun things to do that they don’t usually get a chance to do with Mama and Daddy.
3. Art Studio/Textile Studio
There’s a small art & textile studio in town that occasionally offers an art class or workshop for kids. Most of the time, these are geared towards children who are older than my kids, but at least it’s a place to keep an eye on.
4. Music Lessons/Events
We are fortunate to know a sweet lady who gives my oldest son piano lessons. We know her through our church. This is the one thing we can count on week after week and we’re to the point now where my son actually looks forward to his lessons. Plus, this gives him a daily goal to work on… learning those songs on the piano.
Related, our piano teacher also is the coordinator of our local chamber music series (YES! We even have a Chamber Music series and we’ve had people all over the world come to perform for us!). Look out for concerts or music workshops, because even the youngest kids can benefit from just listening to public performances.
5. After School Programs
Unfortunately, our public school does not have the funds or the resources to offer much in the way of after school programs, but when I was growing up, I participated in a lot of them through my school. I was a library helper, I was in the school choir and video clubs. I also was on the math team and the Gifted & Talented Program, which kept me occupied a lot of the time.
Related to this, if your middle or high school ever puts on musicals or plays, GO SEE THEM! They’re inexpensive and usually a lot of fun. Any money raised usually goes right back into the program, so it’s always for a good cause.
This is a big one for our town. Our church is pretty much the Wednesday night hub here in town. We have probably 1/10 of our town at our church on any given Wednesday night as we have programs for kids up through high school (and areas for any college kids to help at or attend if they’re interested).
My kids also do events through other churches too. They’ve been in the Methodist Kids’ Christmas Program, and we do the VBS “tour” every summer. We’ve gone to most of the community meals at one of the Lutheran Churches as well. We try to go to other church’s choir specials or plays too.
Yes, there’s always high school and middle school sports and sometimes even elementary sports. Another organization that reaches a lot of the kids in our community is extra curricular sports programs. Both of my boys have participated in fall soccer for the past couple of years, and if our springs weren’t already so busy, we’d enroll them in spring baseball/Tball and/or soccer as well. When my oldest reaches 8 years old, I’m going to enroll him in the “Little Dribblers” basketball program.
Also, go to the middle school sports games. Middle school basketball and football are a LOT of fun and the athletes LOVE seeing people cheer them on.
Unfortunately, we do not have a gymnastics company here in town, but we DO have a wonderful ballet/dance company. My oldest son is actually really interested in doing dance, and we are seriously debating signing him up for dance lessons, depending on the time and the cost.
9. Mothers Day Out Programs
My 3 year old participates in Mother’s Day Out 2 days a week. It’s through our elementary school, and so far, he absolutely loves it! He’s even recently attended his first birthday party for a classmate! (Growing up soooo fast!)
10. Senior Centers
Occasionally, our senior center will have an event open to the public. Also, our groups at church try to visit them from time to time. When I was volunteering for our church’s Children’s Choir, we visited them about every 6-8 weeks just to sing for them. Once in a while, they’ll have a game night or a movie night, and we try to go when we’re available.
11. Community Center
We do have a small community center. It has a bare bones fitness center with a few treadmills, elliptical machines, free weights, weight machines, and a room to do yoga, fitness balls, etc. There’s also a room available for yoga classes or events such as birthday parties, BINGO, Bridge, etc. There used to be a self-defense class for youth, but my kiddos were too young at the time to participate. Check into their schedule to see if there’s anything that your kids can do. Some community centers have arts & crafts, fitness, science, etc. that kids would really enjoy doing.
12. Volunteer Opportunities
My kids are old enough now to start appreciating the concept of volunteering. We have a local Good Samaritan center and food bank, and I’m looking into having my boys and me volunteer once a month, just sorting through the donations or helping with the food bank.
Our other volunteer opportunity is the animal shelter we adopted two of our dogs from. They always need helpers to walk and play with the dogs, help fix equipment and cages, etc. I think this would be more lined up into my boys’ interests, but it’s definitely important to help teach them the act of volunteering early in their lives.
13. Do it Yourself
When all else fails, do it yourself. Pinterest and social media are FULL of easy and cheap and fun crafts you can do with your kids.
Call up a friend/classmate and visit the school or a church’s playground (get permission first, of course). Pack a picnic lunch and just let the kids run around and play with their friends.
Take a walk around town. Go down some streets you haven’t seen in a while. Let the kids ride their scooters or their bikes.
Create your own kids activity. One of the moms in our town hosts a rotating “kids stop” where moms and kids get together at a rotating location every couple of weeks. The host mom provides the snacks and the kids just goof around and play and eat (and sometimes watch a movie or play Wii depending on the weather). Sometimes there’s crafts, sometimes there’s a science experiment… it’s up to the host mom to decide. They kept it small… to about 6-8 kids, but really, it was a fun way to give the kiddos something else to do.
That’s really about it for our town. We often have to make our own fun, but we also try to participate in any community events as we can, because it’s important to be involved in your town, whether it’s big or small.
“Mama” from www.mamawritesreviews.com is a mom of 2 boys, 3 dogs, and whatever other stray animals happen to come along. She loves crafting and playing music and enjoys her jobs as Kindergarten Classroom Mom, Suzuki Piano Mom, Soccer Mom, and organizer of a Preschool/Kinder Church group.