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Indoor Fun for Babies

HappiFamli

Indoor Fun for Babies

Laura Standefer, Senior Baby Correspondent
May 06, 2019 

So, you live in Austin and you have a baby. The weather here is unpredictable. Just yesterday, it was hot and sunny in the morning and, suddenly, a torrential downpour came rolling in. If you need to get out of your house but want to stay indoors, there are several places in the area that are great for baby fun! Here is a list of a few of our favorites. 

Almost Grown Play Cafe: With locations in Dripping Springs and in Cedar Park, this cafe is every parent’s dream. Here you can grab a cup of coffee while easily keeping an eye on your little one. The stimulating environment and activities will allow your baby to explore and learn for hours. 

Baby Bloomers at the Thinkery: The Baby Bloomers section is probably the safest place for your baby to be. My little one looked at himself in all the mirrors and loved people watching. My husband and I have the best time here because we’re children at heart, and the Thinkery is fascinating. Outside of the Baby Bloomers section, my son especially enjoys the colorful light lab. Lights and people watching were always his thing. On top of everything that the Thinkery has to offer, there are also special days with activities for children 0-3. Check out the Early Learners section of their website for more information.

 

Mt. Playmore: The baby room is just as fun as the rest of the place. There’s a little area for children three and under with ride on toys, foam blocks, a tiny playscape area, and more. Plus, we were able to enjoy the big kid playscape since we went during school hours

Little Land Play Gym: Little Land is the perfect place to spend the day with your baby. It’s not as overstimulating as some of the other play places, yet it has plenty for your little one to do. With toys, swings, and unique playing tools, Little Land is our go-to location for learning and fun.

Kids Play Area at Lakeline Mall: Located in front of Dillard’s Men and Children’s store, Lakeline’s play area has always been perfect for my little guy. Even though I seem to have one of those accident-prone kids, it’s not easy for him to get hurt here. As soon as he could crawl and pull up, he was bouncing off the walls of this place!

Hop N Happy or Catch Air: Colorful and unique, Catch Air kind of reminds me of Discovery Zone back in the 90’s, but much cleaner. We have so much fun when we visit their aquatically-themed Austin location or their space-themed Round Rock location. These two establishments have reinvented bouncy places and provide so much fun for everyone involved. 

Nanny vs Day Care

HAPPIYOUNGSTR

Nanny vs Day Care

Rebecca Cole, Cofounder, Mom

August 21, 2018

In my business I get asked all the time my thoughts on a nanny vs child care centers.  My answer is that there is no right answer.  Every family I work with is different and each has very specific needs and wants.  Here are some things to help you understand what might be best for your family.

In my business I get asked all the time my thoughts on a nanny vs child care centers.  My answer is that there is no right answer.  Every family I work with is different and each has very specific needs and wants.  Here are some things to help you understand what might be best for your family.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your ideal child care group like?
  • What do you most value?
  • What are your biggest concerns or fears?
  • What will our schedules really look like?
  • What is our budget for child care costs?

Child Care Centers:

      PROS:

  • Typically open 10-12 hours/day, five days/wk
  • Provides year-round care
  • Regulated by state and have state inspections at least once per year
  • Multiple caregivers make arrangement more dependable
  • Many times have more space, equipment, and toys
  • More formal, organized activities
  • Structured environment

     CONS:

  • Not as much individual attention
  • Higher turn-over rate for caregivers
  • Higher caregiver to child ratio than other forms of care – Texas requires a staff to infant ration of 2:10 maximum.  Most child experts recommend looking for centers that provide ratios of 1:4 or 1:3.

     TIMING:

  • Waiting lists for infants can be over 1 year long, so ideally you would be researching and visiting child care centers as early as possible, even towards the end of your 1st trimester.  Preschools can also have extremely long wait lists, so start your searches early.

     COST:

  • For Travis County, the average cost of infant care at a child care center was $814/month, with top centers in the $1200-$1600/month range.  This is as much as UT tuition!!!

Nannies:   

     PROS:

  • Care in your own home
  • More control over routine, activities and kind of care child receives
  • Very individualized attention
  • May provide more flexibility.  Easier to find care for evenings & weekends than other options

     CONS:

  • Can be most expensive option (typically $15-$20/hr)
  • Texas does not regulate or license nannies.  You (or an agency) have to do all of the screening.
  • Will need back-up child care plan for caregiver vacation or sick days

     TIMING:

  • Start looking for a nanny 6-8 weeks before you need them to start in your home.  This will give you time to screen applicants, call references, do in-person interviews, trial days and background checks.

 COST:

  • Nannies in Austin typically charge $15-$20/hr.  For a 40hr work week, that is $2400–$3200/month.
  • Nanny taxes are also required to be paid to the IRS, and families are responsible for employer taxes.  Nannies are considered household employees NOT individual contractors.

I hope this helps!  If you need more personalized service, HappiYoungstr does offer one-on-one child care consultations to help families navigate the confusing world of child care and determine what solution is best for them.  See more at http://happiyoungstr.com/for-parents.asp

 

Adventures at Garey Park

HAPPIYOUNGSTR

Adventures at Garey Park

HappiFamli, Senior Playground Correspondent

July 31, 2018

Georgetown just unveiled their marvelous new attraction that is Garey Park. This place has it all so come enjoy a day of fun with your family.

Dear Moms,

Have you hit the wall yet?  You know, that mid-summer wall. Sure, at the beginning it’s all play-dates and vacations and fun educational outings. You’re thinking,

“Wow, look at me, keeping my children entertained without a screen in sight. I am a domestic goddess.”

The next thing you know, PBS is raising your children and while, yeah, they do a decent job, its not quite the stimulating tour de force you had in mind for your summer-o-fun. 

Lucky for you, Georgetown just unveiled their marvelous new attraction that is Garey Park. This place has it all. Amazing splash pad; check. Two large playscapes; you betcha! Zip lines; Three of them! Hike and bike trails; explore to your hearts content! Even the swings are impressive.

A visit to Garey Park can easily be made into an all day affair. With so much to do, you’re definitely going to want to stay awhile. Pack a lunch to eat at one of their many picnic tables located under the pavilion or spread out a blanket and enjoy your meal under the shade of the mighty oak tree. If you run out of drinking water, they’ve got you covered. Near the restrooms you’ll find a water fountain complete with a water bottle refill feature.  The restrooms are clean and well kept but be warned, they do not offer a baby changing station.

If your family enjoys fishing, you can drive on down to the pond, located near the former private residence of the Garey family and have yourself some catch and release fun.  The park is a work in progress and there is much more to come like group cabins, an equestrian center, and a 600 seat amphitheater.

Admission into the park for Georgetown residents is $5 per car for the first two guests, and $2 for each additional guest over the age of 3. Non-Georgetown residents will pay $10 per car for the first two guests, and $2 for each additional guest. If you don’t have cash, not to worry, they do accept credit cards.

Click Here for more information on Garey Park.

Top 5 Questions to Ask a Babysitter

HAPPIYOUNGSTR

Top 5 Questions to Ask a Babysitter

HappiFamli, Senior Babysitter Correspondent

August 24, 2018

Finding a good babysitter is like winning the lottery – it can be life-changing!  Learn what to ask to see if your sitter is a good fit for you and your child.

Everyone knows that you are supposed to ask a potential babysitter about their experience level, availability, rate and references, but how do you really find out if they are a good match for you and your child?  An interview is your opportunity to form impressions about their self-esteem, maturity level and ability to handle stress.  Think outside the box and ask things like:

  1. What is your babysitting experience and have you babysat for a child who is my child’s age?  What types of activities would you do with this age group?
  2. What was your worst experience in child care and how did you resolve it?
  3. What was your best experience in working with kids and why?
  4. Would you feel comfortable telling me if you were unhappy with anything? Tell me about a work situation where you needed to express your unhappiness and how you handled that.
  5. What do you think makes a happy child?

Once you have hired a sitter, make sure you can relax and have some fun by putting together a short training guide that you review with your sitter before you leave.  Things to cover with your sitter are:

  • Household routine: what activities does your child like, how much structure do you want to the day, what is the general routine
  • Bedtime/Nap Routine: are there any sleeping rituals your child follows, do you keep a light on in the room, what should the sitter do if the child cries
  • Meals and food: what is the feeding schedule, are snacks allowed, what food is allowed
  • Household Rules: may your child play outside or in the front yard, can they plan an outing and transport the child, can friends come over for a play date, can they watch TV, is there anything that is off-limits.  Also be sure to discuss how the babysitter should handle discipline if your child is misbehaving.
  • General Guidelines: can the sitter eat any food in the house, or use the telephone or go to sleep if the children are asleep
  • Contact Info:  Make sure to leave all of your #’s and maybe information for a neighbor in case of emergency.

Best Local Parks

HAPPIYOUNGSTR

Best Local Parks

HappiFamli, Senior [BLANK] Correspondent

June 14, 2018 

Summer is a great time to explore the outdoors, and we are so lucky that beautiful parks are all around Austin. Almost every neighborhood has one! Here are some of our favorites.

  • Brentwood Neighborhood Park, 6710 Arroyo Seco, Austin. Pool, playgrounds, tennis, volleyball, and more!
  • Elizabeth Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd, Cedar Park. Giant park with playgrounds, pool, and BMX trails, so bring your bikes!
  • Katherine Fleischer Park, 2106 Klattenhoff Dr, Austin. The park with the cute little green play house.
  • Lake Pflugerville Park, 18216 Weiss Ln, Pflugerville. This park resembles a beach, so bring sand toys and towels and wear your swim suits!
  • Little Stacy Park, 1500 Alameda Dr, Austin. Bring a basketball! And maybe swim suits if you’d like to play in the wading pool.
  • Mueller Lake Park, 4550 Mueller Blvd, Austin. Feed the ducks, stop by the Thinkery Children’s Museum, or go to the Farmer’s Market (Wednesdays & Sundays) after playing here!
  • Northwest District Park, 7000 Ardath St, Austin. Playgrounds, swimming pools, and more!
  • Patterson Neighborhood Park, 4200 Brookview Rd, Austin. Play and swim all day!
  • Play for All Abilities Park, 151 N A.W. Grimes Blvd, Round Rock. This newly expanded park is HUGE and even has a bike race track and mini-town. Bring bikes/ ride-on toys!
  • Ramsey Park, 4301 Rosedale Ave, Austin. The giant spider web park!
  • Shipe Neighborhood Park, 4400 Avenue G, Austin. Pool playground, tennis, basketball, etc…even a log cabin!
  • Springwoods Neighborhood Park, 9117 Anderson Mill Rd, Austin. One of the best parks of all time. Filled with shady trees, a sand volleyball court (aka sand pit for kiddos), ball fields, a walking trail, 2 playgrounds, tennis courts, covered pavilions, and more. This park has it all!
  • Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin. The heart of Austin. Swim at Barton Springs, canoe Lady Bird Lake, picnic at the playground, ride the Zilker Zephyr, walk along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail,and play frisbee with your dog on the great lawn.

Parks with splash pads:

  • Bartholomew District Park, 5201 Berkman Dr, Austin. Three splash pads! And so much more.
  • Brushy Creek Lake Park, 3300 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park. Giant splash pad area, lots of picnic tables and covered pavilions, playground, sand volleyball, and a lake! This parks sits along the Brushy Creek Trail, which is also fun to explore on bike or on foot.
  • Champion Park, 3830 Brushy Creek Rd, Cedar Park. Bring sand toys to this park and uncover dinosaur bones while you’re playing in the shade-covered sand pit!
  • Falcon Pointe Splash Park, 1813 Tranquility Ln, Pflugerville. Cutest little splash pad & playground!
  • Pease Park, 1100 Kingsbury St, Austin. Such a fun splash pad, plus a cool hike!
  • Quarry Splash Pad, 3005 County Road 175, Leander. Biggest splash pad in Austin! Water cannons! A slide! Get there early to snag a spot in the shade.
  • Ricky Guerrero Splash Pad, 1100 Brodie Street

Indoor Fun for Babies

HAPPIYOUNGSTR

Indoor Fun for Babies

HappiFamli, Senior Baby Correspondent

June 5, 2018

Whether it’s raining or cold or just too hot, it’s always a good idea to have some indoor places where you can hang out with your little ones. If you’ve just got to get out of the house, but want to stay inside, here are some fun ideas for playing inside in Austin!

  • Alamo Drafthouse baby day. Did you know you can take BABIES to the movies?! No one will even glare at you if your kid cries.
  • Story time. Find your local library branch or attend one at the locals’ favorite BookPeople often includes special guests at their story times, like Tiny Tails To You!
  • Baby Bloomers at the Thinkery. Just for babies 0-3!
  • Little Land Play Gym. This place is like Disneyland for babies. Not as overwhelming for parents either!
  • Toybrary. Our local toy lending store. You know how your kids get bored with their own toys? Now you can rent toys instead of buying new ones! Such a genius idea.
  • Gymboree or Little Gym. Get those wiggles out!
  • Indoor swimming lessons. You’re never too young to learn water safety!
  • Hop N Happy or Catch Air. They have safe areas for little ones to jump and play here.
  • Playmore. The baby room is just as fun as the rest of the place.
  • Baby yoga! You’ll both be calmer when you’re done.
  • Kids music classes like Heartsong or Tunebugz. I met one of my best friends at one of these free demo classes! Also, babies love music.