summer

How to Make the Most of Your Summer Without Breaking the Bank

Every time I think of summer, I think of the summer of 2013. For me, it was the best summer ever!

It truly was.

I felt as though we took each and every day of our summer and squeezed as much fun and adventure out of it as we possibly could.

But, I could not have pulled it off alone.

As someone who loves being (and staying) at home, I needed help finding ways to get out with the kids to enjoy this season of lazy days, rainy afternoons, and looser schedules.

I discovered that our community was filled with opportunities for us to make memories together and individually by keeping my ears (and eyes thru Facebook) open for announcements. Here are some of the things we found here in our county that have worked really well for us over the last few summers.

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Library classes- Our library system does a series of classes throughout the entire summer. They are educational, entertaining, and the kids really had fun. We have brought home meal worms, planted seeds, learned about our local wildlife and participated in fun science experiments through some of the activities the library provided.

Our library also has a Summer Reading Program that encourages children to spend at least 24 hours worth of time throughout the entire summer reading. At the end, our children can earn a ticket to see the Tampa Bay Rays play. Our sports loving family really enjoyed this in years past and will continue to participate for years to come.

Check your local library system’s event calendar to find out the activities they have lined up for the summer.

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Arts and Crafts- We discovered that Michael’s Crafts Store has a program called Passport to Imagination which runs all summer long, three days a week. The cost of the 2 hour class is $4 per  child per day. It’s a great way for kids to explore their artistic side… without giving Mom a mess to clean up. That’s a win/win in my book!

Movies- Check into your local movie theater’s schedule to see what they are offering for children during the summer. We have a couple of theaters in our area that offer $1-$1.50 movies once or twice a week. We have taken advantage of these. It is a great way to get out of the house but still be in the air conditioning.

Season Passes- Do you have season passes to a local theme park? Summer is a great time to use them and get the most out of that pass. On evenings when you find yourself wondering what you could do, pull out that pass and enjoy your theme park for a couple of hours.

July 11th- Don’t forget that on 7/11 each year, 7 Eleven offers free Slurpees!

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Fruit Picking- Here in Florida we kick off our summer break with blueberry picking. It is always a great way to get us outside, and we bring home pounds of blueberries for a fraction of the cost of buying them in the stores. What fruit comes into season in the summer in your area? Look into where there may be a U-pick farm near you and have some fun!

VBS- Vacation Bible School is a free week long program that churches offer to their communities. Many times, the churches in an area or community stagger their VBS weeks so parents can utilize as many of these programs as possible.

Beaches and/or pools- Are you located near a beach? Are you a part of a community that gives you access to a pool? Do you have friends who invite you over to use their pool? Does your area have a sprayground? These are all great ways to get out into the summer sunshine, keep cool, and get that summer glow. Just be sure to keep the sunblock generously applied, hats on small heads, and lots of liquids on hand.

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Sporting Events- Baseball season is under way and football season is gearing up. Summer ballgames are almost an all-American must! Some ball fields will allow you to bring in your own food which helps to keep costs down to a minimum.

Football season is also gearing up. Our local team (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) has a Fan Appreciation Day and open the gates (free of charge) for the fans to watch a practice. Check your local team to see if there are any free fan events happening in the summer.

Cow Appreciation Day- One day our children look forward to each summer is Chick-Fil-A’s Cow Appreciation Day. The idea is to dress like a cow (as much or as little as you want). For minimal participation you get a free chicken sandwich. For maximum participation you get a free meal! Each year, we haven’t paid a dime for our dinner.

American Girl Movie Premier- I don’t know how it is in your house, but in our house the summer television premiere of the American Girl Doll of the Year movie is a big event. It is a free night, we don’t have to leave the house, Addie gets to pick out her own fashionable outfit, and I give her a special hair style using my hair supplies. It’s a tradition.

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Make the Most of the Holidays- Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day are all considered summer holidays. Why not make the most of these with crafts, special snacks, and activities? My 4th of July Pinterest board was a huge help to me last year in coming up with a week’s worth of stay-at-home activities and fun.

Kids Bowl Free- Although the Kids Bowl Free program has been around for a while, we plan on taking advantage of it for the first time this year. Through this program, children receive two free games per day throughout the summer (cost of shoes is not included). There are also discounted rates for parents to play throughout the summer, too. It’s a great way to get out as a family for some fun. (Check your local bowling alley for restrictions)

I hope I have given you some ideas on how to make this summer your best one yet. I think the most important lesson I learned during the summer of 2013 was to make a big deal of the little moments.

Those are the moments that our children will always remember.

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purposeful-moms

Learning to Enjoy Things without Owning Them

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I want my children to have access to as many things as possible that will teach them and help them reach their highest potential. However…..

I do not want to own all of those things.

So how is it possible to give my children the resources they need without feeling the need to purchase it all?

One thing that I remember our mother doing with us as girls was taking a weekly trip to the library. We would walk there (it was a five minute walk from our house) and spend a couple of hours doing school work (we were homeschooled) and looking through the books. We became friends with the librarians and looked forward to our time spent there.

Fast forward twenty-something years, and I am now the mother taking her children to the library.

 

purposeful-moms

The library has changed a lot since I was a kid- there are now computers, games, puzzles, and cool bean bag chairs for making yourself comfortable  with a good book. There is now story time for children under the school age during the school year and learning class time for all ages during the summer.

The library has thousands of books, that are available to enjoy. Toddlers, children and adults alike can enjoy all of the books free of charge (unless one is late returning these books, then there is a late fee…. speaking of…..).

One of the steps to simplicity found in Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster is learn to enjoy things without owning them.

There are so many books I want my children to enjoy, but it would be impossible for us to buy them all. A library offers access to a plethora of materials for education and entertainment.

Learning to enjoy things without owning them can reach far beyond books. There are parks, beaches, festivals, and other things that can be enjoyed for free or for a nominal price without having to own anything.

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The beauty of learning to find ways of enjoying things without owning them is two-fold. In some cases it teaches patience in waiting your turn before you can enjoy something. It also reduces the amount of stuff brought into your living space which keeps clutter at bay. Clutter is an enemy of simplicity.

I want my children to grow up understanding they do not need to own everything in order to enjoy it.

They do not need to have an extensive video library; they can borrow movies from the library or rent them for a $2.50 at a local kiosk or wait for them to arrive on Netflix. They do not need to download every song they like; they can enjoy Pandora or Spotify free of charge and enjoy their favorite songs and find others like it. They do not need to purchase every book they want to read; they can borrow it from the library.

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What important lessons will this teach them in the long run?

  • Not everything needs to be owned in order for them to enjoy it.
  • To save their money for things they really want or need.
  • To critically think about purchases they do make.
  • Less clutter equals less stress.

How will they learn this lesson?

It starts with me and the example I show them. Children will not learn this lesson on their own. They need to be shown that we can learn to find ways to enjoy things without owning them in order for them to learn how to do the same.

The library is a good place to start.

This post was originally posted here at The Joy of Homemaking.