When the cold, wet weather arrived last month, I felt a creeping sense of dread. How would my toddler daughter and I get through the days without spending long stretches romping around outside?
Then we discovered the municipal gym. Every Wednesday and Thursday, October through early June, Middlebury's recreation department hosts Tot Time there from 10 a.m. to noon. Many Vermont towns offer these kinds of unstructured drop-in sessions.
There's nothing fancy about the venue; it's a dingy old building attached to the town offices (a $6.5 million replacement is currently under construction down the street). But the first time we went, 18-month-old Joni and I both felt like we'd hit the jackpot.
She took off to explore the toys — tricycles, dump trucks, rocking horses, a plastic mini-slide, tumbling mats, a train set and a fleet of police cruiser Cozy Coupes. I sat on the floor with a friend and finished the coffee I'd bought at nearby Carol's Hungry Mind Café.
We lingered for an hour and a half before packing up to head home for lunch. I stuffed the $2 drop-in fee into a tub while Joni enjoyed a last hurrah climbing the bleachers near the door. It wasn't the great outdoors, but it sure was fun.
South Burlington, VT
At Wildflowers Studio children play, experiment and tinker in innovative and exciting new ways. We give creative liberty for children to hypothesize and create according to their own developmental level and unique learning style. This promotes personal growth and academic enrichment, expands social skills, problem solving abilities, and motor dexterity.…(more)