Summer is 2/3 of the way over--phew!Â Some parents, like me, may feel a bit *over it* and ready for school to begin.Â But then I check myself--I won't have all this *free* time with the kiddos once school starts; it will be schedules, homework, and obligations.Â So I'm trying to do one fun thing a week that is structured.Â The usual activities like waterparks, Great America, mini golf are all great fun, but boy do they add up, especially in multi-kid households and when friends tag along.Â It is possible to have summertime fun while keeping the pocketbook moths at bay, with some pre-planning.
Â 1)Â Have a low-cost rain contingency plan.Â Rainy days are the PITS because the kids are so accustomed to playing outdoors, they don't know what to do with themselves when forced to stay inside.Â Â I keep a list of fun things I want to do for those rainy days.
Â 2)Â Find out the free days!Â Many zoos, museums, and other fun places with admission fees will have a day of the week that is free admission.Â Research each destination's free day, and take advantage of it!Â To further save, pack snacks, lunch and drinks so you are not paying an arm and a leg for these necessities.Â A friend of mine will actually buy *souvenirs* of the places she visits from discount or dollar stores (animal themed items for the zoo, etc.)Â I thought that idea was ingenius! If you live in a larger metropolitan area, see if your library offers passes to zoos or museums at the library.Â The city of Chicago does this (you check them out much like a book) and I recently learned that our suburban library also does this for the zoo!
3)Â Read the local paper.Â There are TONS of free activities in your town and surrounding area, but if you don't know about them, you can't participate!Â Look for free concerts, outdoor movies, festivals, etc.Â If they offer mailing or email lists of such activities, get on them!
4) Go on a treasure hunt.Â There is a fun hobby called letterboxing, in which you follow clues to find an actual buried *treasure*.Â Kids think this is the coolest!Â All you need is a map from the letterboxing website (http://www.letterboxing.orgÂ ), a journalÂ and a stamper (buy a rubber one at a craft store, or make your own).Â See if there are any letterboxes hidden in your area!Â It's a really interesting hobby; we plan to leave our own letterbox soon, once we get the hang of it.Â Basically, you find the hidden box and use the stamp inside to mark your journal with that particular find.Â Then you use YOUR stamp to sign the guestbook inside.Â Some boxes will leave a trinket for you to take as well.
Â Summer might be over, but there are still plenty of opportunities to have frugal yet fun days!