It’s been a year since I made the decision to leave my stressful job to be a stay at home mom. The timing was perfect- it was right before Summer, and by staying home I didn’t have to pay for expensive camp for the kids! Yay! BUT I also didn’t want my kids to turn into couch potatoes and become slaves to the Xbox. What to do?
To keep my kids engaged, and hold myself accountable for facilitating a fun summer, I created Mommy Camp.
Mommy Camp is an alternative for the engaging camps that parents spend way too much money on every week during the summer. As a stay at home mom, the funds are in limited supply, so I have to get very creative to keep everyone entertained.
Each week I create a schedule and post it on the wall with the week’s activities. Each day is broken down into 3 parts- morning, midday and afternoon. My son, who is 15, is allowed to opt out of ONE activity each day.
A typical day would look something like this:
Morning: 10am- $1 movie at Regal Cinemas
Midday: 12pm- 2pm- lunch, read for 30 mins, make homemade ice cream!
Afternoon: 2-5pm- geocaching
You’ll notice the 30 minute reading in the plan. It’s daily, and it is not optional for either of them. I don’t care what they read (within reason) as long as they’re reading!
To limit spending, I try to have only one activity per day that actually requires money. So if we pack lunches to eat on the go, or have a picnic, we will often stop for ice cream or frozen yogurt in the afternoon. Sometimes we go out to lunch, and the rest of the day is made up of free activities.
We also have one weekly “field trip,” which is a more expensive outing. I look for ideas on Groupon and typically find good deals on bowling, mini golf, laser tag and indoor trampoline parks. Both of my kids LOVE Dave and Busters so we work that in about twice a month on “Half-Price Wednesday.”
Some “free” things I have found that the older kids like are:
- Making YouTube videos
- We like to buy unusual food at the Dollar Store and eat it, or buy odd products and review them.
- Sports (tennis is a big hit with my son)
- Games (video games, board games)
- Scavenger Hunts
- We take advantage of the air-conditioned stores by finding the store’s recent ad and splitting into teams (my son versus my daughter and myself) to find the items. We have to take photos of the items to prove we found them. First team done wins!
- Geocaching (I’m going to do a follow-up blog all about this! Stay tuned!)
- Playing “Chopped”
- Clean out the pantry! Assign the kids 4 ingredients in an Easter basket covered with a towel. They then have 10 mins to create something yummy! No using the stove, and plastic knives are a must. We do this right before my husband comes home so he can judge their creations.
- Activities that pertain to their hobbies (my son loves to collect cards, so we visit card shops so he can spend his allowance)
- Parkour at the park
- I make my son create the challenge, which my daughter and I attempt to do. As the mom I get veto power in case he gets crazy with his stunts. Typically he is pretty good and tries to do things that are safe, requiring only balance or the ability to memorize the pattern he created.
Here are some free (or nearly free) ideas for the younger crowd:
- Swimming at the local YMCA (if you live in the same city as the YMCA it is only $3 a person)
- Picnics at the park
- Beach trip
- Library visits (most libraries have free classes throughout the summer for all age groups)
- $1 movies in the morning at local theaters (Regal and UltraStar)
- Museums (most museums have “free days” so if you can stand the crowds they are great options)
- Popcorn and a movie at home
- Sidewalk chalk creations
- Hula Hoop spin offs
- Backyard Croquet
- Obstacle course
- Water balloon toss
Do you have any ideas for Mommy Camp? Share your suggestions in the comments!
Enjoy your summer!
🙂 🙂 🙂 Melanie
PS: I’ve mentioned geocaching a couple of times in this post. It is a free activity for the whole family that provides hours upon hours of fun! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss my follow up post all about geocaching. I’ll go over everything you need to get started, and I’ll have some tips for the experienced geocachers out there too!