SEATTLE BABY & KID ACTIVITIES

Photo: Talitha Photography

I'm lucky to live in a city where there is SO MUCH to do with kids. At times it can even be overwhelming trying to remember where that place was that I wanted to go, so I'm compiling a list here. I reached out to Instagram and there were some great tips there that I've included here as well. Let me know if you have any to add in the comments and I'll work them in. Happy exploring!

PARKS

Green Lake Park - a classic 3 mile loop with tons of grass/picnic area, a play structure, and happy hour spots and coffee shops all around.

Maple Leaf Park - new play structure in the last few years. Zip line, sand box, the works.

Cowen - big grassy area. Coffee shop and Whole Foods nearby.

Tons more. There are over 400 parks in Seattle (!!) so it's highly likely that wherever you are, you're close to one.

BEACHES

Alki - a trek from North Seattle but I love going here because it has such a beachy, southern California vibe. Lots of shops line the street that faces the beach, ice cream coffee, restaurants, etc.

Mathew's Beach - mostly grass, good for picnics. Huge play structure and shallow entrance to the water, with a lifeguard and enclosed area for swimming.

Magnuson - Enclosed swim area here as well with a lifeguard.

Golden Gardens - big beach area, lots of boats to see and a beautiful view that faces the sunset.

COFFEE SHOPS

Cloud City Coffee - smaller neighborhood coffee shop with a play area and books/toys for kids.

Third Place Books - coffee (and a bar!) in the back, used and new books, play area.

Tons more, obviously. It's Seattle.

SHOPPING WITH PERKS

University Village. Love this one for a stroll or a lunch date, so many great shops and a covered/outdoor play structure (which means fresh air even on rainy days!)

REI - indoor play area, smoothie place, rock climbing wall, free parking.

Trader Joe's - free stickers, kid sized carts, hidden stuffed animals. Grocery bribing at it's best.

Whole Foods - free piece of fruit for kids.

INDOOR PLAY AREAS

PlaySpace - at Ballard Church, T/W/Th 10:30-1:30pm. Free! Have heard great things, can't wait to try it out.

Malls - Alderwood, Northgate, Bellevue, Westlake Downtown, IKEA in Renton (drop-off kid style)

Seattle Community Centers - Two words: Toddler Gym. These are free, drop in play times for ages 5 and under. I've only been to the Magnuson one, but it's awesome. Tons of toys, bikes, etc. Check the day/time availability, Green Lake is 10a-8p almost daily, Magnuson is only Fridays 9:30a - 1:30p.

MEMBERSHIP PASSES

Zoo - a fun walking loop, carousel and indoor play area. Starts at $70/yr for a family membership. (Insider tip: I hear these are greatly discounted each year on Black Friday)

Aquarium - haven't been here yet but I hear it's worth it for the parking pass discount alone (down to $2/hr for downtown AND it's walking distance to Pike Place Market, which is always a struggle to park near and cheap with kids.) Starts at $70/yr.

Children's Museum - lots of creative play for older kids, story time, crafts. Starts at $70/yr for a family membership (free for kids under 1)

LIBRARIES

Almost all have a kids section of books and there's a free story time every day of the week across all the libraries. The Magnolia and Queen Anne branch are excellent, I've also heard great things about Ballard and Capitol Hill. I also like Green Lake, Northeast, and Lake City. My friends with older kids say their kids love having their own cards.

FARMERS MARKETS

Ballard - Sundays, 10a - 3p, year round

Fremont - Sundays, 10a - 5pm, year round

Phinney - Fridays, 3:30 - 7:30pm, June - Oct

Lake City - Thursdays, 3 - 7p, June - Oct.

Queen Anne - Wednesday 3 - 7:30p (very family friendly, concerts for kids)

U District - Saturdays, 9a - 2p, year round

TRAVEL

The light rail now goes all the way to UW, which means it's now a convenient, cheap, easy way to get downtown (Also: zero traffic so it's lightening fast, and no paying to park or for gas. Super win.)

BUCKET LIST/FUTURE ITEMS

The Seattle Fire Station Headquarters is what sparked (pun intended) this whole list. I walked by it in Pioneer Square, and the building was beautiful and antique-y, complete with a turquoise door with gold hardware. It looked like a museum or least a Tiffany's, but then I saw a little boy walk outside with his mom and grandma and a smile on his face, carrying a play fire hat. I asked her if she was on a tour and she said yes! They're on Wednesdays year round, (and Wednesday/Thursdays from June - August), open from 11:00 - 3pm, and free. More info here.

SPORTS FOR MINIS

Bowling, mini golf, dance classes, gymnastics, etc. etc. A million options here once they're a bit older. When Trey starts playing sports we're excited to have him play on a few Unified teams, teams that have athletes both with and without disabilities. Seattle has a strong program.

RESOURCES

PEPS - Huge list here (and well organized!) For kid info in Seattle. Lists all the story times, consignment shops for kids, so many things.

Red Tricycle. Excellent resource for kids by city, with events specific to that day/weekend, kid-friendly restaurants, the works.

Would love to hear more beyond this list in the comments if you'd like to share!

WHAT BEING A GOOD MOM DOES NOT MEAN

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a good mom. And the more I think about it the more I come back to this: there's no such thing as a good mom. We're all just doing the best we can. Sometimes I can get tripped up in thinking this equals this, and it's just not true.

A real life story: a friend recently joked on Instagram as she was trying to get a good photo of her three kids, with something to the effect of "because good photos equals good mothering, duh," and I loved that joke. Social media mothering is not real life mothering. There is a huge, real, vast difference between mothering your kids and photographing them. "Good" in one are does not equal "good" in another. It was a light bulb moment for me, and I started to think of other things that I had at times (mistakenly and subconsciously) equated with "good" mothering.

These things do not make me a good mom:

A clean house.

Arriving to places on time.

Having the best stuff.

Baking.

Well dressed kids.

Well dressed me.

Well behaved kids.

Well photographed kids.

Organized anything.

A made bed.

Laundry done.

Dinner on the table.

Emails responded to in a timely fashion.

Scrapbooking.

Planning parties.

Hosting play dates.

Breastfeeding.

Working.

Not working.

Healthy eating.

Exhaustive list, right? While some of these things can be good things, none of these things equals good mothering. Conversely (and thankfully) this also means that the absence of one doesn't negate the other (ie just because you don't scrapbook doesn't mean you're not a good mother).

Instead of wondering how I'm measuring up on trying to be a good mom (subconsciously), I'm trying to be a present mom.

These things make me a present mom:

Holding/Playing/Singing/Dancing/Reading/Looking/Smiling/Talking/Laughing with my baby

Everything else is just a bonus.

A clean house, a clean shirt, or any house or any shirt at all, the babies could care less. What they want is more of us. Our time, our attention, our love, our eyes on them.

The good news/bad news is: you can't buy that kind of mothering. The best news is, you're already equipped. We have everything we need to be good moms. We don't need that one more thing. They simply need us. Available, responsive, attentive, silly, playful, messy, as we are.

How relieving to know we don't have to try so hard or be so hard on ourselves. We're all good moms. We're all doing our best. It all works.

WHAT YOU REALLY NEED FOR MOTHERHOOD

Everyone is concerned about what baby gear items to get when they register, stocking up on everything from diapers to a car seat, but what about the mom?

No matter how much you were around babies before, (I was a lot, even getting my master's degree in a pediatric field), or how much you've researched or read or prepped and planned, nothing can really prepare you for the day-in-and-day-out experience of being a mom yourself.

It's rewarding, challenging, growing, refining, joyous work and easily my favorite role by far. I wouldn't trade it for anything, even on the toughest days.

Motherhood is a big role. And yet there's no handbook or "registry guide" to follow, even though it encompasses a full-on, major identity and lifestyle shift and you will need a toolbox of things to get you through. You just can't exactly register for them.

But here's what you can stock up on for motherhood:

Patience. For when your baby gets up for the 18th time in the middle of the night, or when you're on your fifth outfit change of the day.

Grace. For everyone. Extra doses for those closest to you (yourself included). We're all just doing the best we can.

Friendship and community. Motherhood can be isolating and you'll need to rely on your home team and that group text thread more than once. Among the texts I have sent this year: "Does anyone have experience NOT giving the antibiotics for an ear infection?" "How long did it take you before you felt like you got the hang of this?" "Play date tomorrow at 10am?" Motherhood, while wonderful, also (at times) is hard. Find your tribe. These friends will be worth more than gold.

Caffeine. If you're into that (like me). See also: wine and chocolate.

Hydration. For all that extra coffee. I often forget to drink water, but when I do I think "I should do this more often." A cute water bottle helps.

Nourishment. In all forms and every sense of the word.

Fresh air, and bonus points for endorphins. Because we all could use a little more vitamin D and a little less screen time.

Humility. It's kind of hard to go through the birth process and not come out more humble (thank you, nurses, and all healthcare workers for doing the jobs that you do), but once the baby's here, someone else's bodily fluids will now be a part of your daily life (and your wardrobe).

Flexibility. Your days will not go as planned. The sooner you can accept this fact, the better.

Endurance. Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. Your days may feel loud and busy and full right now, but someday they won't. As everyone says: the days are long but the years are short.

And most definitely, a strong sense of humor. You can choose to either laugh or cry at a million moments in your momming. Choose the former and be happier.

Granted, yes, there are a few "needs" with a baby. Probably things like: a place for your baby to sleep, a plan for feeding, and a car seat that fits. It was time for us to graduate from our infant car seat to a convertible one, and after researching I went with the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85. I chose this one for a few reasons, two main ones are the weight limit is higher than most, and the cover removes easily for cleaning (because the words "clean" and "car seats" are never in the same sentence unless fresh out of the washer). This one is neither the least expensive nor the most, and it checked all my boxes for comfort, safety, style, and design. Sidenote: I wish I had moved him sooner! He's a pretty big baby, and would cry every time I put him in his infant car seat. (Yes, every-single-time.) but he's hasn't cried yet going into this one (SO glad). I think he may have just needed more space? Sharing in case your baby also hates their infant car seat and maybe they just need to graduate to the next size. It's all a guessing game with babies but I thought this was an interesting observation.

(Caught these two having a moment. Trey thinks Daniel is about the funniest person on earth.)

So, yes, get your baby essentials. But also stock up on your motherhood toolbox. You're going to need those qualities a lot more than that wipe warmer.

This post was written for Maxi-Cosi. We adore this car seat and how their well designed baby products combine the best of style and safety.