I'm a single parent. Maybe not in the traditional sense of the word - I'm married - but I'm still a single parent to my children during the next nine months (deployment) which happen to run smack dab in the middle of the summer. I work out of a home office. Needless to say, summertime can be a challenge when mama needs to work and the children are out of school. Don't get me wrong, I love summer time but there has to be some balance.
I found myself starting off this summer creating that "balance" with a schedule of activities for my children that would rival one of an international celebrity. Quickly I realized that it might not have been the best of ideas - I hadn't done any proper planning of how my genius ideas of keeping my kids busy would affect my budget. We had summer camps, movie days, spa days, and even shopping trips on our calendar. Sounds fun - and it is - but it can seriously put a dent in your wallet before you know it. Have you been to the movies lately, taken two kids to get a pedicure, shopped with children, or enrolled them in summer camp? Just taking everyone out to lunch yielded a bill three times what I was used eating my Smart Ones at home. I needed a break not just from my kids, from extra expenses.
I've done a little bit of looking around and I've found some pretty easy ways to keep them busy. We visit our post library once a week - they even have movie time there and I can work via my laptop. We've ran a lemonade stand, had multiple family game nights, created a drive in theatre with old boxes in our living room, gone bowling, and made a billion crafts from Pinterest. We've gone camping, planned picnics, and we've even started a vegetable garden.
By far our favorite this summer is what the Crooks affectionately call our "redneck water park". We bought a large blow-up slide and set it up in the backyard. Yes, it was an investment but if you consider the hours played vs. water park tickets I came out way ahead. Though I will mention many water parks offer a military discount if you ask.
Speaking of getting out and about, if you are interested in taking on something outside your house be sure to check into your military benefits.
We've spent some time visiting museums in our area through the Blue Star Families free museum admission. If you're interested in finding some in your area check out their list here.
We visited our local zoo which offered a buy one; get one free discount for military families.
And if you're lucky enough to live close to any Sea World Parks & Entertainment you can get a free pass to any of their parks through the Here's To The Heroes program. Even Disney offers discounted passes through September 30th.
What do you do for inexpensive summer fun? Share ideas!
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