Below is an article written by reader Kaitlin Bevis. She writes for the Toddler Town Column in the Athens Parent magazine.
As a childcare provider specializing in infant care, I frequently interview new parents. At some point in the interview, they confide they don’t know anyone else with kids and have no idea how to keep their child busy. I remember that feeling. In Atlanta I knew other moms, and every infant friendly activity, but then I moved to Athens. I was lost until I discovered the Athens Mommies Group. Now I’m their infant organizer.
So what is there to do in Athens for infants and toddlers?
Story Time: Infant story time is offered at most Athens Library branches. My daughter has been attending since she was three months old and loves catching the bubbles, singing songs, and playing with toys. They also offer toddler story time, puppet shows, baby music time, and
The Learning Express and Barns and Noble offer a story time every Monday and Wednesday respectively. Learning Express is an incredible store, but it gets crowded and is difficult to navigate in a stroller. The merchandise is also tantalizingly close to little hands.
Barns and Noble has a big children’s section, with a train set, toys, and board books to keep those little hands busy. They also offer a Saturday storytime.The children listen to three stories, color, and eat a snack. The six month old I watch loves listening to the story and tearing up paper at coloring time. My daughter loves running around on the stage after story time and pictures. This one’s a win for everyone.
Go to the park: Our favorite is Memorial Park. We picnic by the lake and feed the ducks, play on the playground, and explore Bear Hollow. I plan my visits close to nap time, so when the kids get tuckered out I can put them in the stroller and walk around the lake. We go to the World Of Wonder playground because they have a playground for toddlers. Barrett Shoals Park is fun for any water-loving toddler, though their playground makes me nervous for any but the steadiest walkers. Sandy Creek Park offers a beach but charges admission. Bishop Park has a variety of toddler sized equipment intermixed with their regular equipment and is the best place for a picnic. At Memorial Park my daughter wanders off chasing puppies, but at Bishop Park I can close the gate to one of the sports fields, bring a ball or a kite, and let the kids run wild. The parks also offer events for children of all ages. Outdoor parties, babies and beasties story time, tours of the zoo, and much more are available.
Take a class: St. Mary’s Hospital offers a Bundles of Joy class, which supports breast-feeding mothers, and a Toddle Time class. Both Athens Regional Mind and Body Clinic and Full Bloom offer mommy-baby yoga. Athens Regional only offers classes until your child can crawl, but Full Bloom takes them all the way up and out of toddlerhood. Full Bloom also offers pregnancy classes, a new mothers class, baby wearing, and cloth diapering classes. The Natural Baby offers cloth diapering classes and a baby sign class.
The YMCA offers toddler swimming lessons, and Kindermusik classes. Dancefx studio offers a mommy and me ballet class for children 18 months old and up.
The Georgia Elite Gymnastics Center accepts children from eighteen months to three years. I was nervous about such a large age gap, but the class was structured in such a way it wasn’t a problem. The gym is crowded on Saturdays, so I recommend their weekday classes.
The Oconee Gymnastics Center accepts infants who can crawl and up. The class is much smaller than Georgia Elites, but the registration fee made it a bit pricier. Athens Clarke County Gymnastics class offers separate classes for infants less than eighteen months old called diaper gym, a class for older toddlers, and another class for threes and up. They offer the lowest price, but if you don’t want to commit to a full season, check out their fantastic Friday events for ages ten months and up. The kids are led through a fun obstacle course in the Bishop Park Gym.
Canopy Studio’s offers a parent child trapeze workshop every Sunday morning for children a year and up. My daughter loves pushing the swings around and running on their padded mats, and the two year old I watch has a great time swinging.
Have Some Fun: If you’re not looking for a structured class, 1-2-3 Jump, and Pump it Up, has toddler friendly spaces, if you can get there when they aren’t crowded. Good Dirt has a family day so you can all play in the mud. My daughter had a blast picking berries and pumpkins at Washington Farms. If you’re willing to travel, Babyland General Hospital offers free admission to see where the cabbage patch babies are “born.”
Join a mom’s group: The Athens Mothers Center meets once a week; the Athens Mommies Group has play dates, meet ups, moms’ night out, and more. There’s even a moms group for Jackson County and Barrow County. Not only will you find lots of child friendly events, but you’ll also meet more moms. Not only do I keep my eighteen month old busy seven days a week, but most of the activities are appropriate for the infant and the two year old I babysit. There is a hidden wealth of infant and toddler activities in Athens, Georgia.
Where can I find the dates and times of these events?
Athens Clarke County Gymnastics: http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/index.aspx?NID=596
Athens Leisure Services: http://ga-athensclarkecounty.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=535
Athens Libraries: http://www.clarke.public.lib.ga.us/, select events and classes, and select your library.
Or stop by your library and look at your Childrens brochure.
Athen’s Mommies Group: http://www.meetup.com/Athens-Mommies/
Athens Mother’s Center: http://athensga.motherscenter.org
Athens Regional Medical Center: https://web1.armc.org/body.cfm?id=221
Full Bloom: http://fullbloomparent.com/resources.php
Jackson County Mom’s: http://www.meetup.com/jackson-county-moms/
Natural Baby: http://www.thenaturalbaby.com Select view events
Mom’s In Barrow County, Ga: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=116398065063726
St. Mary’s Hospital: http://www.stmarysathens.com/programs/ Search support groups for the bundles of joy and toddle time programs.
YMCA Swimming Lessons: http://www.athensymca.org/youth-aquatics
For all other businesses I recommend calling because they’re online calendar often include classes that have been cancelled due to lack of interest.
160 Tracy Street
1260 South Milledge Avenue
Georgia Elite Gymnastics Center:
Georgia Elite Gymnastics – Place page
1235 Cedar Shoals Drive
Oconee Gymnastics Center:
1071 Jamestown Blvd. Suite E1, Watkinsville
Are you a local business that offers infant and toddler friendly activities to Athens Locals? Contact us and tell us all about it!