Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Money Saving Tuesday- Summer activities

I cannot believe May is almost over. Jon is almost done with another school year, summer is almost here and I am finally only 5 weeks away from not being pregnant anymore!
Since no one has started school in the house yet summer schedules are much like winter, spring and fall schedules. With the exception that it is much hotter. And Jon gets home from work around 1:30 instead of 4, he teaches summer school and it is 8-12 so a much, much shorter day for him. I can't wait for the time when he doesn't need to work during the summer, but that is the future.
Although it is hot during the summer it is much easier to find free and low cost activities to do that the winter. Because we can be outside we spend a lot of time at parks and playgrounds. There are several within a 15 minute drive of my house. To keep the kids from getting bored with a park we rotate which park we go to. We visit the park at least 2 times a week. Although my kids love our backyard, going to a playground is different, gets us out of the house and is fun for them. They have their favorites and sometimes will request a specific park. Most of the time they are happy to just go to the park, it doesn't matter which one. And I love the cost: FREE.
We also purchase a season pass to a local zoo each year (I know I have mentioned this before) as well as a parking pass to the park the zoo is located in. We go there almost every week. Once inside the park we visit the zoo, play at the playground, run around the sprinkler park and sometimes feed to ducks as well. Often I will pack a picnic lunch which always is a hit with the kids. I can feed them the same food as I do at home, but since it is a picnic in the park it is that much better.
One local park has a beach (on a pond since we are a few hours away from the ocean but still a sandy beach) that we go to a few times in the summer. We pack a picnic lunch (again making my kids very happy), our swimsuits, sunblock and sandtoys and head out for the morning. For a parking fee of $5 it is a very inexpensive way for a family of four (almost five) to spend a day!
Another thing we love to do is pick your own berries. Around here June and July are great for berry picking. And although this is not a free activity, we come home with fresh fruit! I also love that I don't have to pack a snack for these outings since what you eat while you are there is free. Last year we went strawberry picking once and blueberry picking twice. We froze a lot of our blueberries and they lastes for several months. Our strawberries were eaten too quickly to be frozen. I am hoping to go berry picking at least one time before baby #3 arrives, and possibly afterwards as well. The kids love it, Jon loves it and I love it too. And I can roll the cost into my weekly grocery budget.
We also still take advantage of our library during the summer. Although they do not have a weekly storytime the libraries around here run a summer reading program. It is for kids of all ages (from a read-to-me age to reading alone) and they run special programs during the summer as well. We will be at our library almost every week picking out new books just like in the winter. Another free activity (and one with air conditioning).
And for those rainy days we spend time at the local musuems. In our city, if you are a resident you have a free pass to the local museums. There are four of them and my kids love the Science Museum. We go there a few times in the summer, and each week the museum has a theme that they center different activities around. Kids can play dress up, make craft projects, sometimes listen to a story, all based around the week's theme. We also have our pass (thanks to my brother) to a children's museum and will be there a couple of times a month (more often if it rains a lot!) to play. I love it because my children have fun, but there is also a learning aspect involved. As much as I want them to play I also love that they are learning something (even if it is just how to wait their turn for a toy). The city museums are free and thanks to my brother our children's museum trips are free to us as well. Again, they also have the bonus of being air conditioned for those really hot, muggy or rainy days.
Summer is not my favorite season, I am not a fan of muggy weather. However I know my kids love to be outdoors and summer is great for them. We fill up our water table and the kiddie pool in the backyard and they are content for entire mornings! A few toys, a bathing suit and a freeze pop added to the mix and my kids are in heaven.
This summer will be different since we are adding another baby in late June. However having a summer baby is nice (so everyone tells me) because it is easier to take them out and about. I know with Owen it was easy to take him out in the warmer weather so I do believe it. I am wondering how I will do with three kids four and under at the park and zoo! This could be a stay at home kind of summer, we will see.

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