Part-time working moms cannot live by camps alone during the summer. Day camps are great–my kids can learn new skills, like acting or surfing, while I have a good chunk of time to get work done–but I can only afford so many of them, plus I do like to actually hang out with my kids during summer. So I am always looking for affordable things to do with them. Here’s some things we’ve found that are tried-and-true winners:
1. Dollar movies. Our regional chain, Regal Theaters, offers a summer-long lineup of movies for $1 admission. (No discount on popcorn, unfortunately, but if you are looking for cheap dates with the kids, you probably already pack your own.) These aren’t summer blockbusters, but stuff you could rent from Redbox, order On Demand, or maybe see on premium cable. We got to see “Paddington” this summer after we missed it during its first run because our showing was sold out. On a hot day, there’s nothing better than a movie, unless it’s…
2. A pool or beach. We are exceptionally fortunate to live near the beach and we’ve already spent quite a few days of this summer break going there in the morning and hanging out (and hanging 10) for half the day. (I pack a few snacks from home and we usually are home in time for a late lunch to keep our beach gear to a minimum.) We also have a pool in our community, as well as friends and relatives whose invitations we happily accept when they are extended.
3. Summer library programs. I loved these when I was a kid, so I make sure my kids participate in them every year. They sign up, read a certain number of books or hours, and get prizes when they reach their goal. Along with the reading, there are usually a lot of special events–magic shows, ice cream parties, animal and science shows, music and dance performances, story times for little kids–and it’s all free. Plus, the kids are reading, and that’s always a good thing.
4. Groupon, Living Social, and other deal sites. So far, we have gone paddleboarding, ice skating, and trampoline jumping on the cheap thanks to deals from these sites. Sign up for e-mails from them and you can usually score even cheaper deals at 15% to 30% off the already discounted price.
5. DIY camp. If you’re like me, you have a ton of stuff lying around the house. So put it all to use–break out the paper and paints for art day, make a family meal for cooking camp (and bonus–you can teach your kids to make their own lunch at the same time), or round up some neighborhood kids for a game of soccer.
What’s your favorite cheap date with your kids?