Editor’s note: Liz Seymour is a stay-at-home mom and author of ‘Moms and Money,’ a new clark.com series focused on helping moms establish a solid financial plan and better understanding of household finances — all while juggling the endless duties of a stay-at-home parent.
Those who know me well know that summer is not my jam. I do not enjoy the heat. I do not enjoy the gallons of necessary sunscreen. And I really do not enjoy the aimlessness that accompanies the lack of school. I prefer schedules and routines (okay, and alone time).
I also really dislike the amount of money that seems to get spent in order to fill all the free time. I know much of it is my fault, as I tend to get cabin fever easily. And here in Atlanta, spending the day at a park isn’t really an option past 9 a.m. as far as I am concerned. Yes, we go to the pool – daily. Yes, we have the list of items that everyone must do every day around the house. But thanks to the joys of Daylight Savings Time (also not a fan), we have many more hours to fill. So, we meet friends for lunch. We catch a movie. We visit a museum. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.
I haven’t even mentioned summer camps, either. They are a sanity saver for this mom who craves structure and alone time, but of course they are expensive. Obviously cheaper than the therapy I would likely require without them, but I do have to pick and choose my weeks carefully.
So, the expenses clearly add up quickly this time of year. What’s a mom to do? Besides consulting The Free and Cheap List, here are just a few tips I’ve figured out over the years to keep everyone happy!
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Ways to save on summer activities for the kids
Groupon, Living Social, Scoutmob: These sites offer discounts for area attractions, restaurants, etc. By scanning the available offers, it also helps you brainstorm some new ideas to keep everyone engaged and amused.
DIY: More of often than not, kids are happy creating. Have them set up their own circus, puppet show, or front yard water park – you get the idea. Better still if you can import some friends. (And boy, will you earn points with those kids’ moms, who may then return the favor!)
Babysitter: Sometimes you just have to outsource the parenting. Book that teenager down the street for three hours and get thee some freedom. You’ll save by not hauling the entire crowd out of the house to some pricey amusement or restaurant, and they’ll enjoy the fresh perspective of someone else to play board games, hide and seek, or even watch a movie with. (No one will ever know if all you did was drive around the corner and nursed a single iced latte for 3 hours while you read your book in peace. Or so I’ve heard.)
Read more: 12 cheap ways to keep kids busy this summer