This week was wonderful for us. We got to spend Monday together as family, because the kids and I were off of school and my husband was able to take a personal day. Even though we have a lot of work going on right now, my husband really wanted to do something fun with the kids, he decided to do the Children's Museum, and when he checked to see what their hours were found out even better news: It was FREE.
This was one of the special Free days at our museum! That pretty much made the decision for us to go so much easier. I know not everyone would be happy at the thought of a free day (not because of the price, but because of the crowds), but I have a few tips on how to survive if you plan to brave it.
1. Go early. So the free day lasts from 10-4? Get there at 10. The closer to 10 the better. People arrive constantly throughout the day, getting there early ensures you'll be able to walk in and see a few things before it gets completely packed and you can't even maneuver around the crowds or keep track of your kids. Best bet is to arrive with a list of 3-4 things you want to see and plan the best way to work them in.
2. Don't bring a stroller. Just don't. Normally they are helpful with holding things you need and are a place to put the toddler at the end of the day. On free day they are constantly stuck in one place as people walk around you and cut you off from your family. There are fewer places to park the stroller so you have to choose to stay with it or leave it and wonder if you'll come back to it later. Honestly, you won't be there long enough to really need it.
3. Leave early. Yes, the museum is open until 4, but as you arrived at 10am the steady stream of people hasn't stopped. Lines begin to form, parents get grouchy, and your stroller is stuck. Just because you can stay, doesn't mean that you'll enjoy the time you have. This is why making sure to visit the few exhibits you really wanted to check out helps. You've done the stuff you came for, quit while you're ahead.
4. Eat before. Eat after. Don't plan to eat at the museum on the free day. Not only is the food not part of the free admission, but you're wasting time in a big crowd eating overpriced food while you could be going to a restaurant or having a picnic lunch somewhere else. If you eat before you get there, and plan to eat after you leave, it'll work out perfectly.
5. Have fun. You'll see kids crying (they may be your own). You'll see parents losing their cool (they may be you). You may not get to do everything you planned. You'll swear you will never come to a free day again. Then your kids will thank you and talk nonstop about all the fun they had that day. You'll know that not only were you able to do something fun, but that it was of little to no expense. And you'll do it again if you get the chance :)