Babystar has an older brother and and older sister both of whom she adores, but they are SO MUCH OLDER that they may as well be extra grandparents. (Age gaps of eighteen and sixteen years, LOL, my life!)
Luckily for Babystar, my younger brother and sister each had a kid fairly recently so she has a 3yo nephew and a 4yo niece to play with (and imitate). These are the ‘big kids’ in her life. My nephew lives far far away in the land of Florida and my niece lives fairly close in the far away land of Fairfax. The nephew visited recently, so all three toddlers/preschoolers were together for about two weeks, having a lot of fun and fighting over a lot of toys.
We scheduled a lot of outings just for the Little Kids. The coolest new place I discovered was the Club Run RECenter. It was a bit of a drive (about 45 minutes, almost at Dulles airport) but TOTALLY WORTH IT! (If you are ever staying near Dulles airport, you should absolutely go here.) I paid the non-resident rate of $12.50 and Babystar was ‘free’ with me. She LOVED the water park and keeps asking to go back. The zero entry pool has a few fountains and a twisty slide (which she totally went down a few times before declaring it too scary). Her older cousins crushed that slide over and over again. The toddler area is walled off from the bigger pool and never got deeper than my little shortie’s chest. The RECenter has life vests and water wings available for use so you don’t even have to bring your own. There are also lockers for a quarter or free open cubbies inside the water play area. And there is a bigger pool, cool current river, larger water slide, and neat water cyclone area for bigger kids, and a hot tub for the grandparents. (I’m sure the hot tub for everyone but it seemed sparsely populated by blissful older people with no small children to look after, on this particular day.)
The Club Run RECenter also has tables both indoors and out, so we packed a picnic lunch. (The only food to purchase there was from a vending machine.) After about two hours, we packed up and drove about ten minutes to the often overlooked Air and Space Museum right by Dulles Airport. All three of our littles are huge fans of airplanes, and this is just an airplane hanger full of planes and helicopters, and the Space Shuttle Discover, which is pretty freaking cool. The museum is free but parking is $15/vehicle. (My brother was in my car and paid for us, though, in case you are checking my math. Please do check my math, btw.)
We had fun Toddler Adventures at our tried and true Busy Bees in Falls Church. Tuesdays in July are 2-for-1 admission and I paid for our three toddlers plus a surprised stranger behind us in line ($30) and bought another 3-pass for Babystar while I was there ($36). We also ordered Chick-fil-A snacks (conveniently located next door) on their awesome app ($18.36). And then we went back AGAIN the following Tuesday (it was a looooong visit, y’all), and again I paid for Babystar and a random stranger behind us ($15) plus Chick-fil-A for me and Babystar ($13.59).
At Springfield Mall, we played at the fruit-themed indoor play space and rode the train. The train costs $5/person so it was $10 for me and Babystar. (I got to be the designated adult rider and it was super awesome. Mostly because my sister and sister-in-law bought me a Starbucks drink while I rode. <3.)
Finally, My Gym Alexandria threw a Moana party ($25 for non-members, which we are) that seemed like a slam-dunk toddler fun grand finale for the last day of their visit. In reality, it was a chaotic mess, but the kids did have a good time. My 4yo niece was front and center during the hula lessons and all three of the kids liked spinning the poi balls which is something I would NEVER let them do with toys at home. (I almost can’t believe that no one was hurt. I am GLAD no one was hurt, but totally surprised.) But during the Moana story time and the lines for tattoos and pictures, the kids just played on the super cool equipment at My Gym. Their favorite was the rope swing into the ball pit. Even little Babystar tried it, though she didn’t really swing on the rope. She sort of held onto the rope and jumped into the ball pit and laughed and laughed and laughed. My Gym offers a free introductory class so I think we will be back soon.
(In my pre-SAHM life I planned travel for groups and meeting and it was WAY EASIER than these two weeks of preschool event planning! I’ll post some ready made ‘super cool fun auntie days’ shortly to save you some sanity. XOXO!)
RAISING BABYSTAR: $19,509.86