We only have six weeks left before school is out for the summer.  Can’t believe that they school year went by soooooo fast!  I have started kicking around ideas for things to put on our summer to-do list.  Having gone through years of therapy with Ben, I try to really structure our summers so we have time for fun as well as get some things accomplished.  He does not do therapy during the summer – we work on getting those goals accomplished at home so we can have some family time without being overly scheduled.

Here are a few ideas to get you started planning some summer fun of your own!

  • Sign up over at KidsBowlFree.com so that the kiddos can bowl for free all summer!  They also have a form for the adults to sign up at a rate of $25 or so for four adults on the pass ~ that is a HUGE savings!
  • Regal Movie Theaters does the Summer Movie Express with $1 movies on certain dates during the summer
  • Michael’s craft stores have the free Passport to Fun kids crafts during the summer. Check your local store for details.
  • Home Depot has free Kids Workshops one Saturday each month
  •  Cinemark movie theaters has the Summer Movie Clubhouse program where it costs $5 to go see all ten films (or $1 per film if tickets purchased separately)
  • Going to the public library is free and ours has a great selection of movies and books that keep my kiddos entertained for hours and hours and hours at a time
  • Check around at local museums, science centers, etc to find out when their “free entrance days” are
  • We spend a lot of time outdoors, and usually go to the beach, springs or local pool at least once a week. I make sure to pack a cooler with drinks and snacks so I don’t have to buy any (BIG savings there!)
  • Family game day is always fun! We do board games or video games and snacks
  • Friday is ALWAYS movie night at our home ~ complete with movies from Redbox or the library or Netflix, pizza, soda, popcorn and candy
  • Pinterest is a WONDERFUL source for cheap ideas to keep the kiddos entertained!  There are tons and tons of great ideas and things to try!  Over spring break we have used a few of them . DIY slurpees were a total HIT   and my son thought that taking a bath in the dark with glow in the dark bracelets in the water was super COOL!
  • It takes a little planning but lots of fun can be had for very little money!  If you sign up for emails from Groupon.comLivingSocial.com , and HalfOffDepot.com  you can get INCREDIBLE deals for local attractions that might otherwise be out of your price range. For example:  I just got 3 tickets to CoCo Key Water park that would have cost me over $70 but I paid $31 !  That is more than half off and wayyyyyy less than the cost of one ticket to Wet N Wild!  We have also gotten great deals on ice cream, mini golf, an indoor trampoline arena, Monkey Joes, and various restaurants all for more than 50 % off!
  • Shopping centers and malls offer a lot of entertainment for free!  Here in Orlando we are lucky and have Downtown Disney which hosts a T-Rex Cafe complete with dino bones excavation area (free to walk through and see the dinos and play in the excavation area), Lego shop (free to go in and play with all the cool legos!), free boat ride across the waterway to the shops, and lots of other free and neat things to do and see!  Most malls have an indoor play area these days and the mall also offers an opportunity for the older kiddos to window shop.
  • Teach a skill ~ my kiddos all loved learning to cook and sew!  You can have some fun, get things done (hey, you have to eat anyhow!) and teach a valuable life skill all at the same time.  Pinterest is a great source of kid friendly recipes and craft / sewing ideas too!
  • On the weekends we usually wander over to the Dollar Tree so that the kiddos can spend some of their allowance money (you can see my post on WHY my kids get allowances HERE).  Kids get thrilled even when the only have $1 to spend!  At the Dollar Tree, the possibilities are endless!
  • Get a cheap game from Gamestop.  Not many people know that if you go into Gamestop and tell them that you are looking for Wii games under $5 (or whatever system you have) they will print a list of all the titles they have in stock that are under that price!  $5 for at least a full day of fun is a deal!  You can also rent the newer video games at Redbox for $2 plus tax.

Hopefully this list of ideas gets you inspired to schedule some summer fun of your own!  I would love to hear back from you if you have any ideas to add to my list!

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The other day I had a bunch of errands to run and also needed to get cash out to give the kiddos their allowances (you can see my original post on deciding to give children an allowance or not HERE).  I thought to myself, “Well, I will just get cash back when I use my debit card at Dollar Tree this morning.”  Then I remembered that Dollar Tree charges a fee to get cash back (I think it is $1).

Now I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal.  I would hypothetically save time and gas by just getting the cash back and willingly paying the $1 fee.  Then it occurred to me that I would be driving right by my credit union on the way to take Ben to school.  So I figured that, for the sake of argument, I would stop at the credit union to take the cash out and see just how long it takes me.

Here is what I determined:

  • It took me 4 minutes
  • It wasn’t out of my way
  • I didn’t waste any gas

I saved $1 in 4 minutes.  There are 60 minutes in an hour and 60 minutes divided by 4 minutes is 15.  By stopping at the credit union and getting the cash out, I was being paid an “effective rate” of $15 an hour. If I stop at the credit union once a week while on the way to Ben’s school, instead of just getting cash back at the Dollar Tree, I will save over $50 a year. Yep, I’ll take that 😉


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As a mother to four children I can easily understand that the decision about a kids allowance is difficult.  Should kids get an allowance?  On the one hand, kids chores should be done no matter if there is money tied to doing them or not.  Chores are a responsibility and part of being a family.  Everyone has things that they must do for the household, no matter if they get paid or not.  I totally agree with that point of view.  However, I recently changed my mind and here is why:  there is logic to giving allowances.

Out of my four children, two are still at home with me (my 12 year old daughter Shelby and my 8 year old son Ben).  I recently started giving the kids allowance ($5 each per week) because it accomplished several things, all of which are beneficial:

  • It makes them eager to do their chores:  they now understand if they don’t do the work, they don’t get paid or they lose money from their pay.  This is a good basic concept for Ben to learn early! Because he has a learning disability, sometimes it takes longer for things to really take hold for him.
  • It makes saying “No” a LOT easier: “Mom can I buy a book from the book fair?”  “Can I get some candy from the store?” “Can I get a new toy?” – I can freely say NO to all those requests unless the child wants to pay for the items themselves with their allowance!  This has saved me a lot of money!
  • It lightens my chore load : they do some of the things around my house that I had previously done all myself.
  • It holds them responsible:  “Mom can I go outside to play?”  Only if you have done your chores.
  • They learn how to keep house:  If they learn these skills now, they are more likely to take care of their home when they eventually move out on their own.
  • They are learning to save: Ben saved his money until he has enough for the Lego Batman 2 Wii game (he also made sure to use a coupon!) and Shelby saved her money to go buy some new clothes at the mall (she did not spend one cent of her money once we were there – she decided the clothes were too expensive and not worth it!).  When they ask for a large ticket item, I tell them to start saving their money.  If it is important to them, they save for it!

In addition to chores and an allowance, I have recently started a “Kids Cook” night.  One night every week, the kiddos are in charge of cooking dinner and making dessert.  Since I plan my menu in advance, they decide on a few dishes and desserts they would like to make that month and I put them on the menu.  Again, this lightens my load and teaches them life skills and responsibility.

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