For a Stay-at-home mom the transition to summer can be a little rough. We try to keep the kids as busy as possible, but it seems like Summer is so long! I start out strong, taking them to all kinds of things each week, but halfway through I get tired and start slacking and trying to declare more “pajama days.” Each day gets a little more chaotic until I’m ready to ship them all off to the circus.

It can get expensive trying to fill the summer schedule with activities, but it doesn’t have to. Luckily there’s a ton of things you can do for free or cheap that you can take advantage of to keep the kids entertained and yourself sane.

movies

Free and $1.00 movies. In my area we have several options for movie theaters that offer $1.00 movies, and even one that does free ones each week. Sometimes I’ll buy a snack or drink, but most of the time we pack a lunch and eat it afterwards. The most I usually spend is $3.00 for a couple of hours of entertainment for the kids.

City resources. Our community center actually offers a drop-in recreation program that costs $40.00 for the entire Summer. This is really awesome for older kids, and a great way to help them make new friends and try new things. For younger children the local libraries often offer story time, crafts and other activities for free. We often spend several hours at the library just hanging out in the children’s area.

bowling

Free bowling. There are a couple of nationwide programs that offer free bowling for kids. I even bought bowling shoes for my older two boys to avoid paying the $4.00 per child shoe rental fee every single visit. This is especially great during the hotter part of the afternoon since it’s nice and air conditioned in the bowling alley.

Discounts and specials. Look on the Facebook pages of some of your favorite places for any kind of special discounts they might run on slow days. Places like trampoline parks or indoor bounce houses will sometimes have special prices for an hour or two when they need to drum up some extra business. If you want to take the kids out to lunch, look for places with kids eat free days to make it cheaper. Check Groupon deals as well for something you can plan on a day when you’ve run out of ideas.

park

Parks and pools. Pack a lunch and head to your favorite park, playground, pool, or splash pad. We live right across the street from a great park with a playground, and I often take for granted that it’s there for us to enjoy. The kids love running around outside and I can sit and relax in the shade. If I bring snacks or lunch along I can guarantee we will be there for at least a couple of hours.

playdate

Play dates. Don’t forget to hang out with friends! A play date doesn’t have to be a lot of work or planning. I love having a potluck-style hang out where the kids can play and eat and us moms can have conversations with actual adults. I sometimes pull random things out of the craft supply closet and let the kids have at it. Easy peasy.

When all else fails, it’s totally okay to declare it “pajama day.” Turn on a move, pop some popcorn and just stay inside. Sometimes I even let my kids turn the living room into a giant fort which makes movie-watching even more exciting for them. And I keep my sanity for at least one more day.

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