School is nearly over and it has me thinking about how I will keep two boys entertained all summer on a budget. We have some trips planned and will use our pool but there is always some downtime during the week (and on rainy days) so I like to have some go-to-activities I can use with a bit of planning ahead.
The key to kids happiness (and mommy’s sanity) is to have a plan. My goal is to have 2-3 planned activities with their friends each week, which leaves us with a few free days left over to see where the day takes us. I like to keep the activities during the week cheap or free so we can budget in the expensive activities like fairs, zoos and amusement parks when we are with daddy (he likes to have fun too you know!)
Here’s a list of some of my go-to-activities and resources. You might have to do a little research in your area to customize this list but many of my links are national.
1) Go to the movies: Participating Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres is offering selected G or PG rated movies for only a dollar on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00am. The movies aren’t first run but the kids still love it. I also think it is a great ‘trial run” to see if your child is ready to sit through a full length movie.
2) Go Bowling: Kids receive two free games every day, all summer long at participating locations when you register at www.kidsbowlfree.com
3) Visit a fire or police department. This might take a bit a planning but is well worth the effort. Every year our local fire department holds a “Fire Safety Week” where kids get to see and climb aboard emergency vehicles. It is a big hit in my house.
4) Browse your local pet store: I know this sounds simple but honestly, I have been using this tip with my kids for years. I live in a large city so I am fortunate enough to have at least 6 large, local pet stores within a 10 mile radius. My kids love the speciality stores the best so we visit the bird, reptile and fish stores at least twice a month.
5) Use Pintrest. This website has been an amazing tool for for me. There are endless ideas for fun, inexpensive crafts and activities for kids. I can’t list them all but I can share a few that I will be using in the upcoming weeks. Dinosaur exacavation, jello and cars messy play and toys in ice. The Dinosaur craft needs a few common supplies that you might not have on hand like plaster but the jello/car craft and ice craft uses things most people have on hand already like toys, jello and of course, water : )
6) Look into your gym membership for kids perks. My gym happens to have a pool where children are welcome so I will be taking them on those rainy summer days. See what your gym offers. You might be surprised!
8) Explore your local library’s perks: These can be a valuable resource for educational entertainment. My library offers free passes to museums year round. You have to reserve them ahead of time but the savings is well worth the effort. We also visit a local library out of our district because of its amazing outdoor enclosed play area. My kids have been known to spend an entire afternoon playing with the water features, musical instruments and truck sandpit.
9) Take advantage of Free Entrance Days: Visit a participating national park on a Free Entrance Day. You can also do alittle research to see if your local zoo has reduced or free admission days. The only caveat is that these days tend to be very crowded so be prepared.