I don't know how your winter is shaping up but having only arrived in this incredible country 9 months ago from the U.K, I thought I was ready for an Australian 'winter'.
Well it turns out that thanks to a lack of double glazing and central heating (the kind with pipes and radiators if you're unfamiliar) I have actually been cold, and we've even succumbed to winter illnesses in my house. Shocking I know!
That said, we were paddling in the sea the other day in the stunning sunshine so it's not all doom and gloom.
But I've been thinking about all the things that are great about being a full time mum to 2 kids under 3 in Melbourne and my first rave of probably several is as follows - Melbourne libraries are amazing! Here are 10 things I love about libraries in this marvellous city of Melbourne and why they may well be your salvation this winter.
1. Free fun.
Ah the wonder of free activities when you have enough bills to pay in life right?! How awesome to have well stocked, warm in the winter / cool in the summer, safe and spectacular spaces to go with the kiddies for FREE.
State Library Play Pod
My first love is the brilliant play pod at the State library, which has loads of good colouring, craft, books and toys to play with on an inspired theme. Play Pod
2. Kids learn to love books.
Libraries equip me in my battle to reduce the amount of screen time my kids enjoy and instead enable them to LOVE books and reading and learning new things about life. The latest campaign to read 1000 books before school totally appeals to the competitive side of me, too!
I know you can count the same book 10 times if your beloved child wants it read again and again, but I'm aiming for 1000 unique books and it's doing me good too as I develop my ability to write for children.
Yes someone who is actually good at it and has had (probably) more sleep than me is both willing and able to engage a noisy group of pre-schoolers and get them (well most of them) singing and doing actions and listening to stories! Now that is worth getting me and my lovely kiddies out of the house for!
Being a regular at a particular storytime session has helped me make some great friendships and we all need support in this wonderful but challenging time of life right?!
5. Helpful Staff.
Now we will all have our favourites, but my experience is that the library staff want everyone to use and love the library like they do which means they are willing to help! That's no small matter when both kiddies are screamy. One amazing woman put all the reserved books I had ready for me under my pram so I could make a quicker, quieter exit towards nap time. Everyone needs people like these in their lives!
Imagine this- both kids were sleeping and I'd made it to the amazing library at the Docklands with a brilliant philanthropic cafe and magazine section. Whilst occasionally bouncing from foot to foot with the baby in the sling and rocking a toddler in a pram I was blessed with an hour, yes ONE WHOLE HOUR of magazine and coffee bliss. The extrovert in me coped marvellously well with the silence as there were enough humans nearby to reassure me but not enough to disturb my little moment of tranquility.
7. Someone Else's Toys!
I don't know about you but my kiddies don't need much to make life interesting. Even playing in a different room of the house can bring 30 minutes of joy! Libraries have interesting chairs, people to say hello to, carpet tiles to jump on, and St Kilda library has recently installed giant bean bags, dressing up clothes and a hop scotch rug. That's a whole morning sorted for us :)
8. Books, etc!
Isn't it amazing to think about how many stories a library holds?! And not just in the books. I know there's tonnes of research into literacy and how to help children love reading but I reckon a great way is to love reading yourself, to love going to the library, to love discovering new facts about life from books and to love the adventure of finding new stories that reflect the beauty and wonder of life with your children. This journey is about them but it's not just about them. There is always more joy and adventure and fun to be found right?!
For those moments when we need the internet to send hilarious videos to our loved ones or when we need to lose the screen time battle (but win the overall war) and put Peppa pig on, there is WiFi. Unlimited, quite fast, free and easy to use WiFi, which we really can't take for granted when the internet does apparently not come cheap in this country.
Sometimes we just need somewhere safe away from home to be. One day I got caught in a torrential downpour in the CBD but to my joy discovered I was next to the City library.
City Library Kids Corner
We sheltered inside and played until the rain stopped, and our afternoon was transformed by books and games and colouring.