Summer parenting.

I look forward to summer, starting pretty much after Christmas. I hate the heat, so these 90+ degree days make me crabby….I look forward to summer because I see more of my kids. And, although we are incredibly rushed (hello, 2 in high school), the time we have is more relaxed. We don’t really vacation in the summer (hello, 2 in high school) but I love to take them on mini trips during our 3 month hiatus. A 1 day drive to the beach, checking out a new zoo, visiting family, or just driving up to an ice cream shop is fun for them. Summer time IS expensive if you have kids in activities….but keeping them entertained doesn’t have to add to your financial burdens. Here’s some quick tips on surviving summer with kids in tow….

  1. Google nearby beaches. There are probably several within a 3 hour drive. Pack some food up, and GO. You can get there and back in 1 day, and enjoy a mini vacation for nothing more than half a tank of gas.
  2. Search nearby parks. My town alone has a dozen different parks. We made a list at the beginning of the summer, and we’ve been slowing visiting new ones and crossing them off our list, while rating them on a scale of 0-10. PS-take a picnic to add even more fun to an already free adventure.
  3. Movies. If you have a movie theater in your area, I’d be willing to bet, they have discounted days/shows available during the summer months. We have 2 major theaters here in town, and each have different specials we can take advantage of. has $5 movies on Tuesday mornings, which include admission and a small popcorn. We take bottled water, and a small lunch! provides $4 movies+kidspack (snacks) every Tuesday! So…if the weather is bad, or you just need a fun/cheap outing, there are 2 options each week for seeing a movie.
  4. The zoo. I usually include a zoo membership in our early budget. That way, if we have time to kill between activities, or just need something to do – we can stop by our local zoo. Usually you can grab a family pass for $80ish or less. Not a bad price considering, we go at least once a week during the summer and several times in the spring and fall. AND, usually your family membership gets you free or discounted admission to other zoos – so again, for the price of some gas – you could adventure to another zoo for practically nothing. And as always, pack food.
  5. Golf. If your kids like hitting balls with sticks (probably all of your children love that) then you should check out your local golf courses. For just a few bucks you can grab a bucket of balls, and chip away at the driving range and/or putting green. Wear a hat, go early, and take a water bottle. Combine this with stopping at a park with a picnic – and you have a whole morning adventure checked off.

There are a lot of things out there to do to keep your kids entertained this summer, but its also a good idea to take this time to do some things around the house. Teach them all a new chore. My olders have both learned to make 2 entire meals from start to finish. The youngers have both learned to properly clean their rooms. My 6 year old had been in charge of keeping all of our shoes put away and the 4 year old makes sure the dogs always have fresh, clean (and cold) water. They take their jobs pretty seriously, and it takes something off of my plate. Summer is also a great time to clean out closets, go through clothes and get rid of whats too small or not being worn. Make a list of what is needed. Same goes for school supplies. I am sure you have some scissors lying around the house…no need to buy more! Make a list of what you have that can be used again and cross that off of the supply lists.

Finally….google “kids eat free” and see if any local restaurants have deals! You could eat out as a family for much cheaper by making a plan, and going on specific days. Here is a list that I have saved:

-Alexanders Steakhouse: free kids meals ages 2-10 with adult entrees
-SteaknShake: kids eat free on weekends with $8 adult
-Moes: kids eat for 99 cents with adult entree
-I-Hop: kids eat free daily from 4-10pm

-Flat Top Grill: Kids up to 10 eat free/adult
-I-Hop: kids eat free daily from 4-10pm

-I-Hop: kids eat free daily from 4-10pm
-Fazolis: kids eat for 99 cents, 2 kids per adult
-Chillis: kids eat free/adult
-Dennys: kids under 10 eat free/adult from 4-10pm
-Pizza Ranch: Kids eat free/adult

-BWW: $1.49 kids meals 5-8pm
-LaGondola: Kids <12 eat free/adult (by location)
-Logans: kids eat free all day/adult
-I-Hop: kids eat free daily 4-10pm
-Applebees: kids eat for $1.99 with ice cream bar (by location)

-I-Hop: kids eat free 4-10pm
-Schlotzkys: kids eat free/adult
-Hyvee Market Grille: kids eat free/adult

-I-Hop: kids eat free 4-10pm

-SteaknShake: kids eat free on weekends/$8 adult
-I-Hop: kids eat free 4-10pm
-Dennys: kids 10 and under free 4-10pm/adult

If you have any advice for raising kids in the summer, drop a comment! #wereallinthistogether

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