Finally, I think we can officially put away the winter clothes. Here in the DC area, the weather has fluctuated between early Spring and straight summer. Just a couple of days ago, it was back to wearing sweatshirts and jackets. But I think mother nature has finally decided to allow the warm weather to come our way for good, and I’m all for it!
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t sure if we would ever get there! And this year, I decided to commit to planning the summer months out in advance. I want to maximize the time and sun that we have as a family, and I don’t want to waste time trying to figure out what to do. So I’ve decided to start planning now for the months ahead.
Here are 8 easy ways to save BIG on family summer fun:
Be sure to check out these fab bowling deals. My family loves to bowl but it can also get pricey. So I love that sites like kidsbowlfree.com has free bowling for kids (up to two games a day). Head on over to the site, click on your state to see the nearest participating bowling alley, and then register your child.
With bowlsummergames.com, each pass entitles you with up to three games per day all summer long (May 18-September 7). Although these passes are not free, they are steeply discounted and nearly free (when you consider the retail cost). So check it out. The kids really enjoyed having the opportunity to bowl regularly last summer.
What family doesn’t love movies? And guess what? The summertime is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of free (yes, free) movies for the little ones. I took the kids to a couple of them last year, and definitely plan to take advantage a bit more this summer.
Xscape Movie theatres also offers free movies all summer long on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Seating is on a first come, first served basis, so get there early. Find out the details here.
Regal Cinemas also has the Summer Movie Express – all movies are only $1 and start at 10am. You can also click here to see the entire lineup of movies for the whole summer so you can plan accordingly.
Also related: 4 Fun & Nearly Free Staycation Ideas For Families
Your local public library most likely has several events and activities throughout the summer for your kids. Our library offers story time reading several different days and times during the week. They also have a Spanish class for “little amigas”. They also have a chess club, teen retro game night, a writing club for tweens and much, much more. So don’t sleep on this free resource right in your own backyard. My kids got a kick out of signing the back of their own library cards, and then checking out their own books.
4. Read for fun
While you’re at the library, don’t forget to let your kids check out their own books. Did you know that Barnes and Nobles has a summer reading program where kids can win a free book? All they have to do is read any 8 books and record them in a reading journal (my son has already done 6 in the last few weeks), and take it to your local B&N book store. They can then cash in on their free book from the store’s book selection list. I’ve been challenging myself to read more, and create some more family reading time. So this will fit perfectly into our summer activity plans.
What kid (or parent) doesn’t love free money? Well TD banks is offering a cool reading program as well. If you have a child in grades K-5, then get them on their reading tip. All they have to do is read 10 books (so, really only two more once they finish with the B&N program listed above), and write down the names of the books they’ve read (using this reading form). Once the form is filled out, take it to your local TD Bank, and they’ll receive $10 for a new or existing Young Saver Account. Click here for full details.
5. Get crafty
As a homeschooler, I’m always looking for fun crafts to do with the kids. So Pinterest is generally my go-to because there are sooo many fab ideas on there for all ages. I created a homeschool and DIY board just to keep track of all the great printables, crafts and activities to keep us busy.
But you can also check your local Michaels craft store for the kids club activities they have. Your kids can enjoy some great crafts for as low as $2.
I also just recently discovered YOXO Toys…if you really want your kids to explore and use their imaginations, this is awesome. The best part is that these toys are 100% recycled and made in the USA. I love how it teaches the kids independence and creativity.
6. Beach time
Nothing says summer like sand and ocean. I don’t know what kid doesn’t like going to the beach, and our kids are no exception. We’ve done day trips and overnight trips. Even if it’s just a short while, the kids love it because it’s “new’ to them, and it’s a different environment. We make sure to go at least once during the summer. We pack our coolers with lunches, drinks, snacks and of course beach toys. This year, we’ll be packing our own umbrellas so we can save money on renting them at the beach.
Also related: 3 Ways Moms Can Plan a Getaway When They Can’t Get Away
7. Waterparks & Pools
Even if you can’t make it to the beach, there’s bound to be several dozen pools and watermarks within a fifty mile radius of your home. Last year, we drove an hour a couple of times to different water parks that were kid friendly. We packed lunches for the kids and spent the day splashing in the sun. This year, we already have a trip schedule for Busch Gardens which will be a first for all of us. So I’m excited about creating these new memories with the kiddos. And right now, Groupon is having a 50% off Busch Gardens and Water Country USA tickets. Click here to check it out.
Also related: 5 Tips for Easy Family Travel
8. Local museums
If you’re like most people, you probably have some amazing museums and landmarks right in your city, but haven’t been to half of them (*raises hand). Be sure to check places like Living Social or Groupon for the latest deals for places close to home (or for a getaway). Seriously, I’ve gotten some amazing deals from these sites.
As you can see, there are so many ways to take advantage of the summer months, and create some fabulous family memories in the process. Make the commitment with me to plan your months out from now until September. For example, every other Wednesday is going to be our library day. I am planning field trips to local museums twice a month on Tuesdays and Fridays. Will you take the challenge with me?
What summer activities do you have planned for the family this summer?
This article was originally written for Black and Married with Kids.
UPDATE: These tips were later shared on WBAL News Channel 11 in Baltimore. Below is the clip from the live interview.