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Posts tagged with: summer activities

Free Library Fun

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Summer has hit and we’re really trying to find ways to save on summer childcare this summer. Our schedules have never been more flexible. Hubs’ personal training schedule has him doing a split-shift. He works early in the morning and in late afternoon/early evening (the before and after work crowds), so he has most of the middle of the day “off” right now. And as it’s summer, I still have work to get done but I’m not teaching any classes and I can completely make my own schedule. There are far fewer meetings and obligations on campus so I’ve been working predominantly from home. It’s worked out well. I’m with the kids in the morning and evening, and hubs takes the mid-day shift while I sequester myself to my bedroom or go to a coffee shop to work for a few hours. Boom! No outside childcare required (note: we are going to do a couple of weeks with childcare 3/week when its needed, but so far we haven’t needed it since we’ve been able to trade-off childcare).

The only “problem” with this situation is that the kids complain that they are bored CONSTANTLY! We’ve been going to the neighborhood pool literally every single day, but we don’t last long as it’s been 110 degrees of sweltering Arizona death-heat. I’ve printed up free first grade worksheets so they’ve been doing educational activities. We have a closet full of games and craft supplies. But it’s still tough to find fun things to add to the mix that don’t include anything outdoors (again – see death-heat comment above) and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Enter: Public Libraries!!!

Our public library system has a great summer time program! We went a couple weeks ago and found out they’re doing a whole summer reading program. They had a Scholastic book fair thing set up and every kid got to pick out 1 free book! Plus they received reading logs so they can track their reading and bring it back in to receive stickers as rewards for reading.  In addition, the libraries have a variety of activities and special events lined up throughout the summer. We got a schedule and I put things on my calendar. Last week was our first special event of the summer season: it was ZOO day at the library!

The staff brought in many (maybe 8-10??) different animals for the kids to see and learn about. And at the end, they had a “petting zoo” with two of the animals: a ferret and a snake!

The kids loved it, and it was a fun and educational activity that occurred completely indoors during the worst heat of the day. A great way to spend an afternoon! And a fun free activity in general!

Do you participate in the summer library programs in your area?

What other free kid/family events do you recommend for summer (preferably indoors, due to excessive heat)?


Childcare Costs

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With summer approaching, I’m once again moved to think about the costs of summer childcare.  This is such an issue for us and while I certainly do not want to rush the kids aging…I will be happy when childcare is something of the past.

For the first time, we are comfortable with the boys staying alone BUT we still aren’t willing to leave them alone for more than 30 minutes at a time–and never with the youngest child at home with them.  We’ve done a couple of 30 minute runs to the store and all has gone well….but longer than that just isn’t in our comfort zone yet.  They’ve done nothing to worry us mind you–this is more our adjustment to the concept I think.  As for the 7-year-old–we definitely need all day care for her throughout the summer.

I’ve done just about every arrangment you can think of and am fortunate to have help from family for at least part of each summer.  For the last three summers I have created an online calendar for my ex and I to access.  We then fill in the weeks with various options–his parents always take one week for Vacation Bible School and my parents take another week…sometimes a sibling of his or a sibling of mine takes another week…we each take a week of vacation…and then the rest is usually filled by summer day camps but those do not come cheap!  So, this year we are trying something new.  We are going to have someone come to the house on the weeks we need care and my ex and I will be splitting the fees.  My friend is actually semi-retired and is not looking to make a lot of money. We will each pay $100 per week.  I know this sounds like a lot but summer camps are running $150 to $250 per week and the lower end is only 9 am to 3 pm–it is about $30-$40 additional per week if we need morning or afternoon care.  By having someone at home, this will allow some indirect supervision of the boys–they’re allowed to ride bikes in our neighborhood and go to the neighborhood pool (lifeguard all summer and over age 12 can go without an adult) and I like the idea of someone being at “home base” for them to check in with throughout the day.  My son also has boy scout camp and will be volunteering at least half days at the nursing home my Aunt resides at.  The youngest one will have various low cost (girl scouts) and free events to attend that the sitter will take her to and from.   That is a HUGE help that I am willing to pay for—to have someone run the kids here and there all summer b/c the time I  lose at the office really adds up by mid-June!  I will supply the vehicle and the gas but everything is nearby and the sitter is fully aware of our budget constraints–so I’m hoping that works.  Looking at 12 weeks of summer–we hope to arrange free childcare for 5, possibly 6, weeks of that timeframe.  It is a logistical challenge but the kids are at least not stuck in one place in front of a television for the entire summer.  The other aspect that ALWAYS impacts is the amount of food that is consumed when they are home…something to think about and start planning for NOW.

We pay $200/month right now for afterschool care for the youngest.  While I am sick of paying even that, I am glad the diaper/preschool days are over…that was running $600/month for just one.  I don’t know how young families are doing that these days.  If there are 2 kids in day care that’s easily $1000 a month in Texas…I’m sure it is more in other parts of the country.  That’s just crazy!