Ideas Needed For the Recessionista's Guide to Life WIth Kids in Fairfield County

Here's what prompted this post: #1 Obama's doom and gloom news conference last night about the state of our economy. # 2 And a few hours earlier, a little birdie told me that perhaps this blog has become a little too focused on shopping and material things. 

I told that birdie that I never meant to turn it into that, and from here on in I will do my best to remedy that. The ironic thing is that in my own life, I'm a little obsessed with saving money. I've really cut back on shopping for both myself and my 2 year old (no more ridiculously over-priced classes or clothes she'll outgrow in no time). And I'm constantly on the lookout for FREE ways to pass the time with her. So I'm going to share some of my favorite inexpensive/free discoveries in Fairfield County and would love if you could too. Please leave a COMMENT below with your favorite recessionista discovery. I'm sure my readers will thank you. Here are some of mine:
  • One a recent cold day, I met 2 friends and their kids at the Stamford Mall's little Warner Brothers play area on the 7th(?) floor. It's relatively new and a very nice spot for kids up to about age 5 or so to blow off some steam. Now before you go saying "eww the mall is gross/sketchy/gloomy" do yourself a favor and check out this spot. Plus, there are a bunch of little inexpensive eateries nearby to grab lunch, as we did.
  • While you're at the mall, you might be able to catch a free storytime at Barnes & Noble. Or you can just hang out in the children's area. Lots of books, toys and a Thomas the Tank play table.
  • When the timing is right and in nice weather, we head directly to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center because it's free for Stamford residents on Wednesdays. I'm not sure if they're really strict about that resident thing though. Lots of live animals to check out and just a very nice place for kids to run wild. 
  • The library. Free classes, tons of books, etc. Click here for a guide to all of Fairfield County's children's libraries, searchable by town.
  • Consignment stores. Two to look into - The Children's Attic in Darien and Juliet & Chloe (www.julietteandchloe.com) in Stamford.  It's a little hit or miss, but last spring I scored several brand new (with tags) Lilly Pulitzer dresses for $9 each at Juliette & Chloe plus it's a great place for inexpensive books, puzzles and other toys. Check them out!
  • Plus, check out the FREE STUFF tab for more fun stuff to do on the cheap.
  • How about you? How are you saving money these days? Please leave a COMMENT below. Thank$!


Tina said...

I am cutting back on my 2-a-day Starbucks addiction. I know it sounds crazy, but I figured I spend probably like $3000+ a year on coffee drinks!!!! So, I've been making a pot of coffee in the morning and buying yummy flavored creamers at the grocery store. It's not the same, but...

Ally's Mom - Fairfield said...

I know I'm going against the grain, but I've actually been continuing to shop -- especially at my favorite little stores. Think about it - this recession is probably hitting boutique stores the hardest and I want my faves to stay in business.I can't imagine our country with just Wal-mart & Amazon. So please don't give up on ALL the shopping advice, ok!

Anonymous said...

I've cut back in a big way on things for myself, but will never ever ever cut back on things for my kids. Alot of my mom friends tell me they are doing the same.

-- Karen M.

meg said...

Thanks Ally's Mom! I hear you. I struggle with that too and I think that's why I like to feature the small boutiquey shops here on FCC. They tend to be more pricey, but you get what you pay for, right? And I love supporting small business owners! Thanks for your input and please bear with me while I strive to find a good balance that will please our wallets and our communities. Thx, Meg

Anne said...

OK - here are my favorite fun, free (or sort of free) things to do w/ kids:
1) Parks!!! Baker & Cherry Lawn in Darien, Chestnut Hill in Stamford
2) Sledding Hills - Good ones near Baker park in Darien and by the Stamford Golf Course (near Westover road)
3) Kid-friendly grocery stores - Trader Joe's (my kids love the tiny shopping carts) and Stew Leonards
4) Beaches - most are open free to the general public and non-residents until the season begins
5) Farmer's Markets - Westport one is great

Okay - I know none of these are super-exciting, but are good ways to multi-task or kill an afternoon.

Anonymous said...

There are so many parents at my son's school that have lost their jobs - it's so sad. I can't say I've done any dramatic cuts myself, but I've been trying to do more for others - like donating to Goodwill. A few women and I have also started rotating helping out one of my son's classmates whose family has been particularly hard hit - taking the little girl for afterschool play so her mom can look for work and making dinners. Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not doing more. It's really sad how many people are affected right now.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten rid of my part-time sitter, which I'm really bummed out about. I love my son, but it was really nice having those few hours of "me" time every week.
- Elise, Westport

AmyBow said...

The Stepping Stones is free from 5-8 on the last Thursday of every month. If the weather is good, you can hang out in the nice big playground adjacent to the museum while awaiting 5pm.

Many of the public libraries have lots of free events - and they are a great way to make sure books and reading stay in your child's life. (The Norwalk PL calendar is here: http://www.libraryinsight.com/calendar.asp.)

Stamford Talk said...

No cutting back here... spending voraciously prepping for this new baby! Nah, it's going OK... shopping at Target/Babies R Us/IKEA rather than giggle, but there are some things you just gotta spend cash on. Once baby is here, we'll be cutting back naturally on going out to eat (dur). I think I might try to head over this week to a couple of the thrift stores you mentioned. Thanks for a post with great tips- also enjoyed all the comments by readers.
I cannot WAIT to come back to this site when baby is 2-3 months old to reacquaint myself with all of these free activities!

Marcella B said...

I just found this web site, I think is a very good deal and i wanted to share it with you!
you can buy, sell or donate used items from strollers to toys and the service is free!

Brenda said...

I think one of the best ways to "save" money is to have your estate plan in order and wills written so that your money is protected should anything happen, especially once you have a family. Check out:
He is a very sharp T&E attorney in Darien.

themarusters said...

Meg, thanks for the info on the 2 consignment stores. Those are new to me. I've been to Little People Consignments on Main Ave in Norwalk. The selection there is hit or miss. I'll check out juliette and chloe soon!

hiyaamy said...

Make your own playdough, fun activity to do with your child plus they can play with it afterwards. Made with simple things you have in your kitchen pantry, and it's edible in case the little ones decide to eat it.

Rhonda said...

My friends and I are doing more home group play-dates where we will set up sledding (my house), baking cookies and decorating them at another home, or simply having a fun movie afternoon complete with popcorn and juice boxes. We take turns and it is turning out to be something we all look forward to each Thursday.