Summer Fun on a Shoestring Budget
This week, my oldest journeyed off to Girl Scout camp (and what a fabulous time she’s had!) and my youngest and I had mommy and daughter time. Flying solo was great. It’s rare I get to spend chunks of time with just one child at a time. I let my daughter navigate the week – choosing what we did and on which day, except for the scheduled see-the-live-animals at the library event. I gave her ideas, of course; things that wouldn’t bust the bank. And for under $20 we had a fabulous five days.
Our agenda (and one you can follow at home!) consisted of:
· Kids movies. Check your local theater to see if they are running a summer series of movies. Ours offers two movies each week – one generally geared for the younger set (we saw Kung Fu Panda) and one for the older kids (this week’s was Top Gun). The movie cost $1; popcorn and drink $1.50 each. For $5, we spent a few hours in the air conditioning with about 75 other kids. (My note: get there early! If it is anything like our summer series, it fills up with camp kids quicker than you can say “Roll it!”). My mom’s town offers free movies for kids in the summer; one day for singles, one day for campers.
· Bowling – for free! Well, not entirely. I wrote earlier about kidsbowlfree.com. Sign your kids up if there is a lane nearby; you only pay shoe rentals. We went on a full price shoe day – Wednesday you pay half price – and paid $6 total. This year, I signed up for a family pass, on which I put myself, my husband and my mom. For $24.95 (plus we got a $25 restaurant.com card) we can bowl free all summer, too. You sign up and receive the coupons in your inbox. Double bonus: you can sign up additional kids, so I signed up the girl I am babysitting next week and my niece, who will be coming for a week later this summer, so they can go bowl free with us, too.
· Bookstore. We love the bookstore, and this week my daughter wanted to drop in for chocolate milk and coffee ($3) and a new book ($2 on bargain rack). For $5 we spent about an hour reading and looking at books, sharing a snack at the snack bar, and talking about how much we were enjoying our one on one time. Then we dropped by the Dollar Tree so I could pick up a few items and she got a new toy ($1). Not a bad day all the way around!
· Library. We enjoyed a live animal show at our library. Check your local library to see what events may be going on for free this year. We have characters such as Junie B. and Llama Llama making an appearance; astronomy day; around the world events; and great story time programs, including a few puppet shows. We are also participating in the summer reading series; read books, fill in stars, and get prizes.
· Crafts. I stopped in both Michael’s and Jo-Ann this week and picked up craft items. Jo-Ann stores offer a variety of camp activities for forty to sixty percent off right now. We picked up flip flops for $1.50 per pair and jewels with which we can decorate the shoes for a dollar a sheet; pretty paper and ribbon flowers and barrette clips to make our own hair pieces; and a few additional craft activities for under $20. These will last us the month of July between our other activities. They are great for rainy days, or for days when you just want to spend some time indoors chilling in your PJs.
· Swimming. Today we are swimming, when I get it all in gear; a free, fun, physical activity for a few hours, followed by some down time with a play date.
What are you doing for fun with your little ones this summer that doesn’t break the bank?