We are now more than half way through summer and we have been to the pool more times than I can count. Don't get me wrong, I love the pool. But some days I just don't feel like putting on the whole get-up: suits, sunscreen, snacks and/or lunch, ginormous beach bag that weighs a million pounds--you get the idea.
I like to have a list of things to do or places to go on hand because heaven knows I can't keep that boy cooped up inside all day (hello, human tornado). There are the obvious - pool, play dates, local parks (gotta go early here in the South...I'm talking before 10am...or else you will suffer the fire of a thousand suns beating down on you). I've listed some other indoor & outdoor ideas because we all know moms love a good list:
Annual Passes - One thing I highly recommend is getting a couple annual membership passes to places you know you will visit a lot throughout the year with your kids. It saves you tons of cash and gives you the option to come and go as you please. You normally get discounts to other things as well when you are a member like special events, food and gift shop items. We've had passes to the zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, history museum (if you're lucky like we are in Atlanta, your history museum is actually a super fun place for kids), and our local indoor play center (ie: Catch Air, Monkey Joe's, etc). It's so nice to have these passes in your back pocket and it's a special treat for the kids as well.
U-Pick/Farm - I truly do love taking Sam out to our local farms. He has the best time, learns a little (I think?), and loves to run wild and free. We've been to a dairy farm, pumpkin farm, and a few U-Pick farms (where you pick your own fruit and pay for what you pick). You can google farms near you and an entire list of places will pop up that offer kids programs, tours, fruit picking, etc. I recommend going early (to beat the heat) and on a weekday if possible (to beat the crowd). It's definitely worth the dirt you'll get under your fingernails and the sweat that forms on your upper lip and on your chin. Wait, is that just me? I digress. Anyway if you do find a fun U-Pick place (here in Georgia we have strawberries in spring, blueberries & peaches in summer, apples & pumpkins in the fall) the price per pound is SOOOOO much cheaper than your local grocery store! So you're winning at momming AND winning at your grocery budget. Yay for you.
Splash Pads - As I've already mentioned, we live in the South so being outside after 10:00 a.m. without any sort of water to play is like standing on the surface of the sun. I love the splash pad option because I don't have to actually submerge myself, I can stay cool and I can enjoy watching my little guy have a blast running through the fountains while I sip on wine...I mean water. I meant water you guys. Splash pads are also great because they are everywhere. We've utilized local splash pads in almost every city we have visited because we know it will be cheap & easy entertainment! So they are a fun option for those of you that are traveling with kids as well!
Library - My little guy loves to grab a ton of books, read (ie: flip through the pages really fast) a few at the library, and then bring a few home. Most libraries have story time and other programs for kids as well as air conditioning. You're welcome. ALSO--check your local library for free passes to local museums, the zoo, etc. Our library system in Atlanta offers a one-time per year family pass to the zoo for absolutely free. All you have to do is check it out.
Local Museums/Gardens - Children's Museum. Train Museum. Art Museum. History Museum. Firefighter Museum. Botanical Gardens. There are so many different kinds of museums out there you guys. You can check them out online to see if they offer children's areas and/or programs (they usually do). Also a lot of museums offer free or discounted days to residents once a month so that is another option if you just want to check it out without dropping $40 for a 1 hour trip to see a dinosaur skeleton. Most cities know how important the toddler/kid demographic is and are always looking for ways to cater to them so don't be afraid to ask!
Camp - It might be a little late now, but next year think about finding a camp to drop your little one off at for the morning/day. From preschool morning camps to all-day camps to sports & art camps, a little time apart is good for you and good for them (especially if you are a SAHM who is with them all day, errryday). I promise. Allowing them to develop the social skills they need without you hovering around is monumental for their growth. And you get some kid-free time to get things done (or just wander around Target with a Starbucks in hand). It's good for you and good for them. It's a win-win.
Volunteer - We have 3 house rules that we talk about everyday: 1) Love Jesus 2) Obey Mommy & Daddy and 3) Be Kind to Others. It's so important to teach these little lives that are entrusted to us how to be kind to others. Finding somewhere to give back is a great way to teach your kids just that and more. Although a lot of organizations won't allow you to bring your child along with you for liability reasons that doesn't mean you can't still do good. Sign up for that meal train and let them help you make & take it. Help out your local animal shelter by taking a puppy or two out for a walk. Pick out a few toys that can go to another child in need and talk about what you're doing and why, then take it to a toy drive/goodwill/local church. Sign up to work a water station at a race and teach them how to encourage others! There are so many ways to teach kindness you just need to look for them.
Enjoy what's left of summer!!