These are words moms dread hearing over and over during summer vacation.
When it’s too hot to run around at the park, and you don’t want to spend a bunch of money, what do you do?
Thanks to a wonderful program calledKids Bowl Free, your kids can bowl 2 free games every day all summer long. That’s a lot of bowling!
This summer I decided my 2 preschoolers were ready for the challenge, so I signed them up for the program. Did I mention it was free? (I love that!)
So I loaded them up in the car and we headed off to check it out.
It has been a while since I’ve bowled. Things sure have changed!
The lady at the desk was super helpful. Pretty soon our lane was outfitted with bumpers and 8 pound bowling balls. Once we were decked out in our bowling shoes (just $2 to rent), we were set to give it a go.
Little Peanut went first. She gave that ball a mighty shove…
Can you tell she was proud of knocking down the pins?
After rolling the balls down a few times, the kids decided to try the ramp.
Yes, I said ramp. Who would have thought that they would have a ramp for preschoolers to roll the ball down? I mean, how neat is that? It makes bowling easy and fun for the whole family!
And you know what?
I found out my youngest is a bowling natural! In his first game, the four-year old got 4 spares and the only strike between us!
The whole place was full of moms with kids bowling — so great to see!
We will definitely be bowling a lot this summer… After all, I have to redeem myself!
The four year-old beat me!
See that? He got 97 to my 93… And that was with me keeping the bumpers on when I bowled!
Want to bowl with your kids? If you plan to bowl more than a couple times, save money and get the family pass, which is good for up to 4 adults, for just $24.95. Remember, kids are free all summer long as long as you sign them up!
And, if you are looking for more free (or almost free) summer activities, check out my Free Summer Fun post.
As mentioned previously, this is a sponsored post on behalf of Kids Bowl Free. I received a family pass in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
“Oh, you’re a stay at home mom? Boy, that must be nice. I’d love to be able to stay home with my kids…”
I’ve heard that one a few times.
And I’ve bit my tongue when the person speaking then pulls their brand-new Smart phone out of their designer handbag or helps slip brand new designer sneakers on their little one’s feet before walking out to their brand new SUV, all so they can get home to watch whatever show they’ve TiVoed.
Yes, I know, sometimes it really isn’t possible for every mom who wants to, to stay home. There are single parents, there are homes where mom is the only one who is working at the time, there are huge medical bills that need to be paid.
I get that.
But then there are those who really could do it, if they truly wanted to.
I don’t have a new car. It’s the same one I got before we married; it has over 100,000 miles on it, and I’m not planning on replacing it any time soon. My husband’s truck? Just as old with 150,000 miles.
New cell phone? Uh, no. Mine is 4 years old now. And it is far from high-tech. My cell phone makes phone calls. That’s what phones are really for, right? Actually, it can also take pictures, too. That was a bonus I hadn’t expected with the phones we got free with our cell phone plan. Free. I like free.
Speaking of that phone plan; there is not texting or Internet on it. I guess the phone can physically do those things (Once my daughter texted “A” from my phone to her daddy’s phone when she was a year old…The kid is light years ahead of us!), but not using those features and having a basic plan saves us money.
You won’t find cable t.v. at our house, nor do we have satellite or whatever other stuff there is for televisions today. When the government decided everyone should have digital signals, we went with the converter box. The basic one we could get with the government issued coupon. What sucked is we had to build a huge antennae for the converter box to even work out here… But my husband and his dad installed it all themselves, saving us labor costs at least.
Notice our t.v. is over 20 years old and far from being a flat screen.
Kids clothes? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, hand-me-downs rock! Seriously. So do consignment shops. 8 dollars for a winter coat that almost looks brand new? I’ll take it! After all, they will both outgrow their coats by the next year anyway. Why spend 50 bucks for the latest Gymboree or Children’s Place item?
The same with toys. Yes, my kids have had their share of new toys. (After all, they are the only grandkids on my husband’s side of the family!) But this year their birthday gifts from us came from the consignment shop. I didn’t plan it, but when I saw them I knew they were perfect. My daughter loves her My Little Pony island, and Monkey has played with his pirate ship every day since his May birthday. How could I pass it up for 6 dollars? And he doesn’t care how much I spent on it. Trust me.
Grocery shopping? Whenever possible I buy the generics. Yes, coupons are great, but there are a lot of times that even with the coupon, the generic is just a better deal. I admit it, I am a paper product snob, though. I have tried our generics in paper towels and toilet paper and it just has to be the brands I grew up with for those.
Yes, the husband and I like to go out to eat, alone, when possible. But it’s not a daily thing for sure! Once a week, or so, we head out to catch dinner. Sometimes we even splurge and get dessert. (Everyone needs to do that sometimes!) If you look around you can find coupons for quite a few nice restaurants. We have a local favorite that is family owned and always a great deal – dinner for 2 for $20 bucks is a nice treat without breaking the bank. And we skip all the alcoholic drinks when dining out – that adds up!
Have a book habit? The library has allowed us to have quite the reading selection without spending a dime. (Well, except with overdues!) And for all those kids books I want to have in our personal library without having to worry about the kids damaging a library book? The used book store. Love that place.
Movie habit? No, we don’t have Netflix. And we haven’t paid to rent a video at Blockbuster for years. Again, the library has kept us quite happy.
Maid service? Yeah… Don’t think so!
Designer purses? Shoes? Clothes? Not my style! And all my maternity wear? It came from consignment shops. I could probably count on one hand the items I have bought myself since weaning the maternity wear from my closet. (And, yes, those items were sold again!)
Mani’s and pedi’s? I have had one pedicure in my lifetime – oh, and it WAS wonderful! But I can’t justify spending 30 dollars to do that on a regular basis. Nor do I spend a lot on my hair cut/style. Hey, if I can get the same cut during the 6 dollar special at a place like Great Clips, why go somewhere else and spend 30 or more?
Do I feel like I am giving anything up?
Not. At. All.
I really don’t think there is much on this list that I would consider, even if I had the extra money.
But, even if I’d love to have all of that stuff, being able to spend this once in a lifetime opportunity to stay at home with our kids? THAT is priceless.
My youngest preschooler is getting into the whole pretend thing lately.
“Wah, wah!” he’ll say. “Baby tiger is crying…” Then he will hold his stuffed tiger close and tell him it’s okay.
I have to say, it’s one of my favorite parts of this age – watching their imagination take flight. Sneaking a peek into their world.
His big sister has been into taking care of her stuffed animals for a long time now, and now he is getting in on the action – feeding the animals in the play kitchen, or trying to nurse them back to health when they’re ill.
I wanted them to have all the necessities to keep their stuffed animals healthy, so I threw together a little “stuffed animal medical kit.”
A quick tour of the medicine cabinets gave me plenty of goodies to get started. I found a couple eye droppers that I had saved “just in case,” an extra wide, super long Ace bandage from one of the husband’s knee surgeries, Q-tips, and itty-bitty band-aids that just are too small for anything that actually require a band-aid.
In the kitchen I found 2 other medicine droppers without the squishy part – perfect for giving pretend shots! I also found some craft sticks for tongue depressers, and with a little permanent marker a couple became thermometers. Finally, I decided two small containers with snap on lids would function for various medicines.
I cut a couple small strips from the Ace bandage, rolled them up, and put all the items in a little zippered bag. I was anxious to see their reaction the next time they played with their animals and I pulled out the little medical kit.
I never dreamed my thrown together kit would keep them entertained for so long!
For over 40 minutes they took temperatures, gave shots, and applied bandages to their stuffed babies.
Future doctor at work
Oh, no! Elephant has a fever!
Their little med. kit has acquired a few other additions since I first put it together: 2 small magnifying glasses we took on hikes earlier this summer and plastic tweezers that came with some kind of gummy candy long ago. I love finding new uses for things that are just laying around the house, especially when it inspires their imaginations!
Any sick stuffed animals at your place? Send them this way; the doctors are in!
Are you looking for some fun, and free (or almost free) things to do with the kids this summer?
How about trying out a few of these ideas?
1. Check out your local library. Many libraries offer a free summer reading program. The one we go to has weekly activities to participate in and even awards prizes for reading books over the summer! While you’re there, pick up a video to watch or a few new books to share with your little one. Hey, it’s free!
2. Pack a picnic lunch (or dinner) and head out to the park.
3. Speaking of parks, check your area for parks that offer “water park” areas. (think splash pads and small wading areas) Most are free or have a very nominal fee.
4. Check your local museums to see when they have free hours. Most art museums have days/hours which are free to visitors and many other museums have this too over the summer.
5. Too hot to play outside? Head to a local fast food place or mall with an indoor play area.
6. Or, stay home and get creative! Check out my craft page for some fun, easy craft ideas to do with the kids.
7. Have an animal lover? Check out a few local pet stores. Look at all the fish. (It’s a free mini aquarium to little ones!) Bonus if it’s a pet store that has an area where you can play with a puppy or kitten for a little while.
8. Check your local parks for free family movie nights or free concerts at the park.
9. Speaking of movies, catch a free movie (yes, I said free) from Rave Theaters during their summer family film festival. Click here for details.
10. Home Depot offers free kids workshops each month. Click here to find out more.
11. Not to be outdone, Lowes also offers free kid workshops! Click here for details.
12. Many bowling alleys are participating in “kids bowl free” this summer. Kids get 2 free games a day, just pay for shoe rental! Click here for participating bowling alleys.
What free ideas do you have as boredom busters for the summer?
Easter is over, but the little plastic eggs are still roaming around the house, carried by little hands.
Ever since our little bunny eggs, I’ve been trying to think about what other fun we can have with them.
The first seemed like a no-brainer to me:
1. Sorting! We sorted eggs by color. First we worked together to sort them into different containers. Then the little ones raced to see who could sort their pile first. Fun!
2. Making Patterns was our next activity. We tried simple 2 and 3 color patterns, but with older kids you could get quite complicated!
3. Shakers. Put some dry rice, dry beans, or even Cheerios in your egg. Now you have a shaker! Don’t want little ones opening it up and dumping it/eating the contents? Use a dab of super glue to hold it closed. (Our library has shakers like these and my kids love them!)
4. Scavenger Hunt. Who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt? I hid picture clues in the eggs since my little ones don’t read yet. Each clue led them to the location of another egg with a clue, until they reached the final egg – filled with left over Easter goodies.
5. Memory Game. With my 4-year-old I made a memory game where she would match lower and upper case letters together. The 2 year-old’s game involved matching shapes. You could also do small toys, numbers, colors…. The options are endless. If you have eggs that have tops that connect (like I did), I suggest breaking off the little plastic piece that connects them to make it easier to lift the tops off and see what’s inside. We started with just 6 eggs (3 sets of pairs), but you could make it harder for older children and use more eggs.
That’s just a short list of what you can do with those little plastic eggs.
You could also use them to put spare change in and stick in your glove compartment. (I used to use a film container, but who has those anymore?)
You could stick paper clips or other small desk items in them to keep them from getting lost in your desk drawer.
Remember when panty hose came in plastic eggs? You could do the same and keep stockings from getting lost in your drawer.