cheap and easy: bike dates with my daughter

Bike date thursdays banner

I’m probably not the only stay-at-home parent to run into this problem: I want to make our days fun, diverse, and filled with learning opportunities. Our same old toys and books at home get boring and our backyard can only offer us so much entertainment, so I’m constantly looking for things to do with C. to get us out of the house and experiencing new things.

Fall is probably the best time of year for this kind of adventuring. The temperature’s just right that we can be out all day without worrying about overheating or freezing and the backdrop’s so stunning that I cannot get enough.

When planning our day, I have a few criteria in mind. I want our activities to involve:

1) some time spent outdoors
2) some time exploring nature

and to come as close to being FREE as possible.

Enter: the mama & daughter bike dates.

Fall at the lake side trail

Fall bike ride for mama & baby Bike parking at the lake

C’s nap schedule is currently in conflict with that of most of our baby friends and so we’ve been spending a lot of time doing things just the two of us (they go down for their midday nap just as she’s getting up). Although I miss the company of my parent friends and their little ones, I love the time spent with my little buddy on our mama/daughter bike dates.

We recently rode out to the lake to try something different from our go-to park destinations. Since C. is still a little young for the playground contraptions (other than the swing), she just needs visual and tactile stimulation that doesn’t require a ton of agility. The lake-side beach turned out to be a perfect spot with its rocky shore and endless supply of sand and grit that could be transfered from one little cup into another. It was such a hit that I was even able to read a few pages of my book while she played and entertained herself. Win win, right?

At the lake

Mama's eye view at the lake Playtime at the lake
Playtime at the lake Playtime at the lake

I’m not always the most creative with our outings, they’re always more or less a bike ride to a park, downtown, or a friend’s house. We park, play, eat a snack, and head home. Repeat the next day and the day after. I’ve come to realize though that for a one-year-old that’s just about perfect. And I continue to be amazed by how quickly she’s learning things and picking up on what I do. For instance, last week, as we pulled up at a stoplight, before I even brought the bike to a stop, her little hand reached out with a finger perfectly poised to hit the pedestrian cross button. She’d watched me do that at every stoplight and just figured that we had to touch the button before continuing on our journey. It’s such a small thing but one so indicative of how she’s absorbing so much of what we do together. Now that task has become entirely hers.

Fall bike ride Learning new things!

Like all parents, I have a lot of doubts about the things I do and the behaviors I model. I constantly strive to be a better version of myself in front of her. Some days I succeed more than on others. While I don’t have it all figured out, I do know one thing: taking time each day to get outside, to play, to talk, to ride a bike, and to engage with our community makes me a happier parent and her a happier child. And it’s such and easy and inexpensive way of finding joy and beauty in our everyday.

Are you a stay-at-home parent to a young child? How do you keep your days filled and what are your favorite go-to activities? What about favorite bike ride destinations? 

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{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
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10 Responses to cheap and easy: bike dates with my daughter

  1. S., I wish we could hang out with our girls! It is difficult to figure out how to keep us both engaged without spending money. Now that we drop Benny off at school in the morning, we usually have to hurry, hurry, hurry to get errands run and the house cleaned up. But now that it’s fall, we’re taking more walks to the park and library. Lila LOVES the changing leaves and could play with them for hours! We also live very close to a few museums so we ride to them for a little exploration. Lila now really loves to go for her own “walks” around the block – sometimes with her own stroller for her doll.

    • simplybike says:

      I know, I wish we lived closer! I have a feeling that we’d have a lot of fun together with our little ones!

      I wish we had more museums and such around here, that would give us a great destination in additon to the library to go to. That’s one huge thing I miss about St. Louis – the zoo and all of the museums were FREE! I would love to be able to just hop on our bike and go to any of those places and being free means that you can just go for an hour and not feel like you have to make a whole day of it.

  2. anniebikes says:

    That photo of your daughter’s finger poised to press the button is precious.

  3. Jane W. says:

    I didn’t stay at home with my daughter until she was 2–not the age to make that adjustment! It was tough to go from being the primary breadwinner to the SAHM of a rambunctious non-napper.

    C. might be too young for this, but my daughter really enjoyed water play–I’d fill a dish bin from the dollar store with water, a few drops of blue or green food coloring, and a teaspoon of glitter. She loved to scoop, pour, and splash.

  4. Bobbie says:

    I love my short little bike dates with T! We’ve been riding to the park just a few blocks away in the afternoons after he wakes up from his nap. I bring his afternoon snack along, and it’s just such a great way to get outside and enjoy the sun (and those pesky little bugs) for a few minutes before Paul gets home from work. I usually tell Paul to meet us there and we make it a family bike ride home!

  5. annlaura says:

    Bike dates with kids – charming idea! We have mostly been riding to the park or library, followed by winding routes through town to play i spy and recently, to check out other people’s Halloween decorations. I hope to ride through the arboretum soon. We’ll have to drive there, but seeing the leaves while biking will be lots of fun, I think.

  6. Julia says:

    When I had just one little one – our daily routine pretty much revolved around walking to the neighborhood park every single morning (he had a ton of little neighbor friends that came every morning too) and taking long walks every evening. I would be bored sometimes going to the same park everyday, but he LOVED it. After his second birthday, we got memberships to a local aquarium and children’s museum. He absolutely adores the aquarium – we try and go once a week atleast. Its been much harder getting out since I had my second one (now 6 months old) – between their nap times, we can barely get out at all lots of days – the backyard has to suffice most days :-( Hopefully will get better as baby grows.

  7. vincent says:

    your baby is so cute, and You had a great idea about it
    Thank you

  8. Pingback: Simply Bike » a shared bike ride for new parents h & j

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