As the weakened economy continues to shed jobs, countless parents find themselves exchanging briefcases for diaper bags and board meetings for play dates. For parents used to power lunching, trying to fill an entire day with activities for kids may seem like an overwhelming task. However, with time and experience, being laid off into a stay-at-home-parent can actually be fun. Below are tips on what to do and where to go for new stay at home parents who've never had to worry about anything other than making it to daycare on time.

1. Visit the library. Most public libraries not only have story times, but also host free events for children of all ages. In addition, many have toys that will engage children for a good amount of time. In urban areas, make an effort to visit a variety of libraries as the amenities vary from library to library.

2.Play in the park. Don't just go to the closest park, branch out and go someplace new. Every public park is different and kids will delight in the variety. Also look around to see if there are any 'splash pads' in your area. Splash pads are intricate sprinkler systems for kids that many communities make available at no cost. Pack a picnic to make a park outing extra fun.

3.Hang out at the mall. Most malls have indoor playgrounds and quarter rides that kids will love. This is a great way to pass a rainy day or to escape from a blistering heat wave. To avoid tantrums when it's time to leave, park by the food court entrance and entice kids with a small snack on your way out (such as a smoothie).

4.Go to Nature Centers or Animal Rescues. Most nature centers don't charge entrance fees and only ask for donations, so this can be an inexpensive way to pass time. And, unlike zoos, nature centers and animal rescues are smaller and not as overwhelming. One nature center we have been too has a lovely play area well stocked with toys and a hollowed out tree that serves as a crawl tunnel. There are animals inside and outside and it's very easy to kill two hours.

5.Find local festivals. Every town has annual festivals that celebrate everything from cultural backgrounds to agricultural products (ever hear of the Mushroom Festival or the Corn Festival?). Check the town calendar to find out what wacky and wonderful events are hosted in your area. These types of festivals are great ways to learn about new cultures and the world.

Most importantly, network with other parents because the grapevine is the best way to find out the latest and greatest things to do. Also keep an eye out for local family magazine which are often available at libraries. These free publications are oriented toward parents and will have a listing of events in the area.