There are 4 kids in my house under the age of 8. So things can get pretty noisy sometimes. The best way to get them to quiet down? Books. (Yep, those are my kids in the photo, in a very rare quiet, still moment!) All the kids love to read, even the toddler. She likes to sit up on the couch with the rest of them and page through a book like they do. The older two can read on their own, and the 4 year old loves to look at pictures and memorize books so that it sounds like he is reading them back to you. But most of the books we own are no longer very interesting to them. So the very best way to get their attention and keep them quiet? LIBRARY BOOKS.
I love getting new library books, because I know that for at least a day or so, they will all be excited to read something new, and they may actually entertain themselves quietly for a few minutes at a time! That means the world during a deployment, when I am barely holding onto my sanity! The tricky part is getting the books from the library. If I take all 4, it is like going to a circus. Each of them has their books in a different section, and the youngest runs around all the shelves screaming as loud as she can in her worst possible “indoor voice.” So I try to go during Story Time, when at least there are other children there making noise, and maybe my kids will be distracted by the crayons and art projects long enough for me to find something for everyone and throw it into our bag. I may even have a moment to look at something for myself!
And in case you thought libraries are only for books, let me tell you 10 other things you can do at a library besides check out books:
- Use a computer and or/print something. (especially helpful if you just moved and don’t have your internet set up!)
- Send a fax. (Usually one of the few places on base that still does has fax machines!)
- Make a photocopy.
- Get a test monitored, if you are taking classes online and need to have one witnessed.
- Find several seasons of some of your favorite shows.
- Borrow a DVD for date night.
- Browse a selection of music CD’s.
- Check out an audiobook player or book on CD. (I use the Audiobooks to-go units when I go running.)
- Acquire old books for free! Our library puts out dated or worn books to take for free. I love this, and often pick up paperbacks to send during deployment.
- Attend Story Time activities.
How old should your child be to start going to the library? Well, that might depend on the child, but you do NOT have to wait until your child can read before using the library. There is an entire children’s section of books that are meant to be read aloud to babies and toddlers. And most library Story Time programs are designed for toddlers, too. There will be songs and little dances, and possibly craft activities, all designed for children who don’t even attend preschool yet. I didn’t go to a library for the first few years I was a Mom, because the thought of taking my wild child to a place of public silence was too intimidating! But when I finally started going to our local public library, I was amazed by all their activities for different ages of children. Even babies who couldn’t walk or talk were welcome at Story Time.
If you live near (or on) a military base, you can use the base library by showing your dependent ID. Our current base has multiple libraries, so if the one closest to you doesn’t have something, they can order it from the main building. I like how they send me an email when books are due. But just a heads-up: if you have overdue books at a base library and don’t pay the fines, eventually the library has the right to contact your spouse’s chain of command! Don’t let it get to that point–return your things on time!
So if you are looking for a fresh, new way to entertain your kids this summer, try taking them to the library! If you go during Story Time, you may meet some other moms and friends. You could even run into me. I’ll be the one lugging a canvas bag filled with 30 books, chasing the world’s loudest toddler out of the Young Adult section, while simultaneously looking for The Secret Garden and ‘something about Egyptian mummies.’