Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: It's Chic to Be Cheap {17}

Who needs season tickets to a fancy amusement park when you can just let your kids create their own death-defying carnival rides in your living room?

I was washing dishes a few evenings ago when I heard mischievous laughter coming from the other side of the Dutch door to the living room. Upon inspection, I see Michaela Byrd holding onto the old office chair for dear life as her sister spins her at top speed. So I did what any good mother would do.
I grabbed my camera to document the insanity.

Through the blur, Michaela Byrd is squealing with joy. Natalie was so proud that she was playing with her sister instead of pinching her.

Trying to walk it off, but a little too dizzy. Must take a breather against these books....

Most kids will tire of chair spinning after an hour or five, so it's always good to have some fun and ChEaP alternatives to keep them busy in the summer. I myself am looking for some ways to keep from having to chant "Serenity Now" repeatedly to myself, so this article is written selfishly. Hope that's okay with you.

I did a little Googling and brainstorming, and here are a couple of ideas I stumbled upon:

1. Library/Bookstore Story Time- our libraries and local Borders each offer storytimes for children each week. Natalie is beginning to look forward to Thursday mornings because she knows we'll get to hear a story or two, maybe see a short movie, and sing some songs with other children. I think it reminds her of preschool. Michaela Byrd likes saying "hi" to everyone while the librarian is reading.

2. Vacation Bible School- many churches have a free, weeklong "day camp" of sorts. We attend a large church that opens VBS to the entire community. Last count was around 800 attendees for this week. Churches provide snacks, crafts, sing-alongs, skits, and more. This is a wonderful way to get your kiddos out of the house for a few hours in the morning. I've been volunteering in the "Snack Shack" with two friends this week, and we've had a blast! I know my girls are having a good time in the nursery provided for the workers' kids. Natalie has a review of the snack each day, and Michaela Byrd just beams when she sees her teachers in the hallway.

3. The Great Outdoors- plan a playdate at a local park. Check your local parks & rec website for park locations. We have a park with a fabulous play ground not too far from our house. I like the shaded area and the picnic tables. Have all your friends deserted you for Myrtle Beach? Pack up your kiddos and go solo! Wear 'em out, bring 'em home for naps or some cartoons, and sit with your feet up while you relax with some lemonade.

4. There was a wonderful post over at Party Planning Mom's blog about hosting a Children's Book Club-this is clearly a better idea for older kids, but think of the themes you could come up with! My friend Tracy was born to host something like this! Get your kids together once a month to "chat" about a favorite book. They can do a craft or worksheet that corresponds to the book or theme, have a snack, and then run wild while the mamas socialize.

5. Grow a Green Thumb- it's not too late to pick up a few pots and seedlings at Wal-Mart or Lowe's. Your little gardener would probably love to help you plant and water some new marigolds.

6. Be a Brainiac- If you live near a big city, plan a trip to a museum or zoo. I love the National Zoo because admission is free. When summer winds down and the weather turns a bit cooler, I'd like to take my girls up to DC to gawk at the animals.

7. Veg Out every once in awhile- I already told you about the mistake I made when I took Natalie to the local movie theatre for a FREE movie. I won't mess that up again! Next time, I'll sneak a juice box and some crackers in for her and call it a day. The free movie offerings can be a fun way to have an easy, no planning required outing with the kids.

8. Check out the Free Craft Demos at Local Craft Stores- our Michael's and AC Moore often host free craft demos for older children. A great way for them to get their creative juices flowing!

9. Start a Play Group-Keep it informal, maybe with just one other family. Plan some snacks and games to occupy the children while you have a chance to chat with another adult.

10. Weigh Your Options- T and I decided to splurge and join the pool just down the street from us. He cashed out a week's vacation so we could pay the "stock fee" and yearly dues. We never go anywhere. Ever. Heading down to the pool is like a little vacation unto itself. So far, we've been swimming every afternoon but one, and when VBS is over we'll start visiting the pool in the mornings. We've already met some really nice people, and Natalie makes friends with every little girl who looks close to her age. Pool time has been a great behavior motivator for Natalie, who knows that she won't get to go swimming if she doesn't take a nap, acts out, etc. T and I decided that if we took a real vacation, we'd spend an awful lot more than what we spent on the pool fees. And this is something that "gives back" all summer long!

{Do you have any good ideas for fun, cheap (or free?!) activities that will keep you and the kids busy this summer?}

Leave me a comment with your ideas, and I'll feature you in this weekend's Spend Less post!

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  1. Hi Amanda! What a lot of good ides! And yes, I can even remember spinning in any chair that would spin! I took my grandson to the museum this week to see Monet's Water Lilies...great fun! Have a wonderful weekend...Debbie

  2. Hi! Stopping by from SITS!

    I too take advantage of the free kids programs @ our local Michael's store.

  3. My brother and I still spin each other in the swiveling deck chair in my parents back yard. Umm, we usually tip over though. We spin each other, then we have to imediately get up, run across the lawn, and around the power pole that is on the edge of the yard and back to the chair without falling down. I'm not kidding...we actually do this.

    We love to go to the park for a picnic. We also have lots of Mountains, so you can take a short drive and go for a picnic in the mountains! Throw a littl hike in too!

  4. Great ideas. I love those free summer movies...but you HAVE to sneak in your own snacks or you might have to get a second mortgage! I soooooo wish we had a pool to join. I would be all over that! Although...we do have that wonderful above ground pool (ghetto pool as I lovingly refer to it) just WAITING to be put up. hubbs needs to get it in gear. This heat and humidity is killing me!

  5. Love your list of ideas. A local movie theater here does $1.00 movies during the summer so that's great. We hit the neighborhood pool, the girls play with legos for hours and hours. We also do VBS and the library. I take the girls to the gym too which has a computers, a gym, a maze and outside playground. So there are plenty of cheap stuff...oh and the beach. But I'm a little anti-beach:)

  6. Love the chair-spinning pictures!! Those are awesome, and I have caught my kids doing the same thing!

    Thanks for the ideas, I'm always looking for entertainment!:-)

    Have a great day!

  7. You have listed some awesome ideas, and things we do as well. I'm a big fan of the $1 store and Target $1 bins. I can't have enough Superhero and Princess mini-notebooks to write on. The kids and I also like to do "projects" too. Over the past few weeks, we've made a lot of handmade cards and actually sent them in the mail to people.

  8. OMGosh! That was hilarious! I sure wish I could have seen a little video clip of that experience. I'll admit I haven't been following your blog lately due to the many vacations we've been on and the fact that you are just amazingly productive and it would take me months to catch up on what I've missed. But, I'm so glad I read this post because I LOVE THE CHILDREN'S BOOK CLUB IDEA! WOW!!!! I SOOOOOO want to start that! Would you be interested in joining with your girls?
    Super great post! I appreciate all the hard work you put into informing us of our cheap options to having fun. Hope to see you July 11th (invite in the mail).

  9. What great ideas!!! Wish I still had kids at home; BUT being a grandparent is the BEST!!!!
    Wish I could have seen the free ride on video, looked SUPER fast!


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