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Low-Cost Summer Activities for Kids

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Low-Cost Summer Activities for Kids

So how are you parents doing with this COVID summer? Ready to start another COVID school year? <insert eye twitch>

Although this season has been full of a lot of survival (so.much.survival), there has been a silver lining for us: we have been saving a LOT of money on summer activities for our kids. Anybody else?

In a way, it’s sad because there are still so many no’s for the kids. No swim lessons, no summer camps, no trips to the pool, no bowling, no playgrounds, no movie theaters. We have still vacationed a bit—camping and a trip to a cabin—but we aren’t running to amusement parks, flying to visit family, or taking the kids to play centers.

But really, we are playing just as much. It’s just different than usual, and typically costs us very little.

Ideas for Low-Cost Summer Activities

Here have been some ways we’ve been saving money on summer fun:

  • Playing for hours at a nearby creek and swimming hole (we didn’t even know it existed until this year!)
  • Visiting a family of owls at dusk at our neighborhood park
  • Climbing trees in the woods
  • Creating pool parties in our backyard with sprinklers and a baby pool we bought 3 years ago
  • Using our annual zoo pass. It should have expired in June, but it’s been extended to September due to the pandemic. Things are far from normal there (you have to wear masks, indoor sections are closed, and you have to wait turns at certain exhibits), but it’s one of our favorite outings.
  • Taking simpler trips to the coast. Normally we’d get ice cream, ride the carousel, browse the shops, etc. Now we pack food and it’s just all beach time—splashing in the waves, building in the sand, and collecting crabs and shells.
  • Using up craft kits and science sets. We have a bunch of half-used sets, so we’ve kept busy finishing them off.
  • Learning to play basketball. Our neighbor got a free hoop and put it up in the street. I thought our kids were too short to play, but they are figuring out how to shoot and they think they are pretty hot stuff.
  • Taking advantage of curbside pickup at our library. It’s so nice to get stacks of “new” books again!

Letting the Kids be Bored

Honestly, letting our kids get bored has been enlightening to me. We don’t keep a super structured life for them, but I still worry about keeping them busy in the summer. But they have gotten so creative at home, and that doesn’t cost a cent! They make up games on the trampoline, create cool LEGO houses, and play airplane and travel to cool places.

My favorite game they created uses planks of wood to launch apples they find on the ground from a nearby tree. The amount of time they spend on this alone cracks me up, and they think it’s hilarious.

Why did I ever worry about spending money on keeping them entertained?? I hope I never forget how much joy that these low-cost summer activities has brought our family.

Let’s See How Ridiculous We can make Our Food Plan

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We are just starting a mostly no spend month. I’ve already kind of broken that by spending $25 on a parking pass at the high school. (Remember, up until this past week, I wouldn’t have needed one at the high school as I had not drivers attending there.)

Anyways, as we begin I realize just how ridiculous our eating plan in. And I’m fairly certain it’s not at all typical. I mean, we’ve gone years with odd eating times as homeschoolers and then with Gymnast training 20-25 hours a week at night. But now it’s just crazy. Let me explain…

In our household of 6 we have:

  • Three who fast regularly – I fast 42 hours, 3 times a week, Sea Cadet has a 6 hour eating window every day and Gymnast does marches to the beat of his own drum and rarely eats any planned meals.
  • One vegan – Beauty cooks most of her own meals and while she is happen to cook for everyone, most of the time, no one eating wants what she is cooking. Although I will say she is an excellent cook and I enjoy the meals I have with her now and again.
  • Three who primarily work evenings/nights so don’t show up until 9pm or later.
  • One who works crazy long shifts sometimes up to 40 hours at a time.
  • Two restaurant works who can eat at work when they want too for free.

With all that, meal planning just has flown out the window! And while the start of school may bring a bit of normalcy to the schedule. Most of the above will still apply.

Nevermind, trying to have all the family sit down for a meal. I really miss that and constantly look for windows when everyone will be home at the same time that is not the middle of the night! Any other moms of teens feel this pain?

Change in Kitchen Routine

With that being said, the kitchen routine has changed a bit.

  • Everyone gets a say in the typically weekly grocery trips.
  • I rarely buy any prepared foods. (The twins purchase their own if they want them.)
  • I still chop veggies and have them in plastic ware or frozen for quick snacks or to save prep time when cooking.
  • I plan meals for Tuesdays and Thursdays, my weekday eating days. The kids know they will come home to food or can eat it as leftovers the next day.
  • We handle the weekends as they come. If no one is really around, I typically just eat a raw diet. But if lots of the kids and their friends are around, I will cook a big meal.

Anyone else’s world change completely when all the kids became teenagers with driver’s licenses, curfews and social lives?

I am loving it. But I do miss regular family meals! But I guess after our months of quarantine and living in a smaller house, we all need so space.