I really enjoyed writing & reading the comments in part I of this series. There really are so many ways to create an enriching, loving childhood without spending a great deal!
In part II I want to share a few more ways I parent simply and frugally, while still enjoying a fun summer!
11. Educate - While I’m a big believer in experiential learning and teaching through engagement in experiences, we do a variety of home-based educational activities each day in the summer. Each week I set my children up with the books they will be reading, word lists for site words, math sheets, mazes and puzzles, spelling words, flags to learn, a bit of geography or history and some art history. I record what their daily activities are in a book and they pretty much spend about 3 hrs each day working their way through the lists and in lessons with me. As this takes up 1/2 the day we have less time to think about activities which cost $!
12. Memberships - While there are lots of local theme parks, zoos etc. nearby, I opted for us to join the Art Gallery. We have a family pass, which means we can visit the regular exhibits and special exhibits without paying an admission fee. This is allowing me to expose my children to art, history and art history (things they haven’t yet been exposed to in their previous families) and not have to set limits on our visits, or worry about fees. Choosing the membership which is right for your family may be a good, frugal choice for summer activities!
13. Arts & Crafts - Learning to knit, painting rocks, making books, colouring, sketching, painting, lacing and the list goes on. Our home is continually filled with frugal fun in the form of art making! We have no fancy supplies, pretty much: paper, paints, paintbrushes, colouring pencils, rocks, leaves, crayons, pipe cleaners and everyday items from around the house we use to create. For pennies we have a couple of hrs entertainment!
14. Baking and Cooking – Now we have more time, the children are even more involved in our growing and making of food.
15. At-Home Days - I would say on average, the children are at home fully about 3 days a week. These days are filled to the brim with activities which cost nothing. By having days at home, we are able to spend nothing by reducing temptation.
16. Planning Treats - I use a calendar and update it so the children know what days we have special activities like visiting our favourite independent ice-cream shop. I also find knowing it will happen soon reduces impulse splurges (I mean, knowing good ice-cream is 3 sleeps away, will pretty much stop me from saying “I need ice-cream today”!).
17. Finding low-cost alternatives – The other day we were invited to see a 3-D film at the cinema. For the three of us, it would have cost about $45! Gasp – that didn’t even include petrol, or any food (not that we would purchase any)! Yet, another cinema offers the same movie (not in 3-D) on a weekend morning for $22. I decided we wouldn’t see the film, but it was a good lesson in the importance of looking for lower-cost alternatives.
18. Don’t Buy Into The Boredom Myth - I am amazed at the number of people who spend money to prevent boredom. The way I view it, boredom is my children’s issue and certainly won’t be fixed by me. I provide plenty of fun and engaging activities, but I also expect them to be happy, content and satisfied with what they have and to entertain themselves for a period of time each day. They have puzzles, craft supplies, books, games and workbooks, as well as 2 cats to play with and each other. In our house the word boredom is never used now because my son (who came from a family with 1 million toys and more than 500 dvd’s, as well as personal play stations and electronics) quickly learned saying he was bored led to 2 extra chores being doled out to him! I think it took 2 x until he realized Mummy was serious!
19. Let Everyone Choose One Program - Each of my children had a choice of what activity they would like to do this summer. We read through our local program guide, perused websites and talked about it. Having a choice of 1 thing helped them understand budgeting and delayed gratification, while being able to pursue something they enjoy.
20. Strive For Simple – It sounds basic enough, but oh how I forget! Each day I ask myself if it will be simple enough, will be relaxed, restful and reflect our lifestyle and values. I also look at each week and try to make sure we aren’t over-scheduled. Today, for example, we could have attended a fun dance program, but as we have another committment in the same area 4 hrs later (and it is an hr drive) I fought the urge to go to both and be out from 12-6:30, the reality is, it is too much. One late afternoon activity, plus an early am walk and plenty of home time is much better for us all.
What frugal activities are you enjoying this summer?