A Budget Friendly Summer

Have loads of summer fun without breaking the bank!

Written by: Kristina M. Teeter

With the true start of summer upon us and the kids out of school, we are all trying to plan that “perfect” summer for our families.  We are blessed to live in Florida where summer comes easy.  This summer our family has decided to switch things up and limit the number of costly activities we do.  Instead, we are looking for free or inexpensive ways to create some magical summer memories.  We have decided to do this not just in an effort to save money (while that is certainly a plus), but to help our children see that we can make fun memories just about anywhere!

I have compiled some of the “budget friendly” ideas that our family will be adding to our summer bucket list .  Feel free to steal some fun to add to your family’s list.

PLAYING OUTSIDE– While the summer heat can sometimes make it hard to spend a lot of time outside, I am hoping to get my kids outside each day for a dose of vitamin D.  Swimming is one of our favorite outdoor activities and we have already made several trips to the pool.  If you can’t make it to the pool, set up a sprinkler or have a water balloon toss in your backyard.  Blowing bubbles and sidewalk chalk are also kid favorites.  Our family likes to take family walks when we can.  We try to do them early in the morning or right after dinner when its not so hot.  We sometimes play “I Spy” on our walks or turn them into nature walks.  Makes for good exercise too!

 

 

MOVIE NIGHT– There is nothing our daughter likes more than having a movie night!  Right now Zootopia and Inside Out are on her must watch list.  We are hoping to have several movie nights this summer.  Our daughter likes to build a pillow and blanket fort and cuddle up with her favorite snacks.  We recently introduced her to the “Wizard of Oz” and she loved it!  That got me thinking… why not “theme” our movie nights.  Some fun themes include: classic movie night (I am always trying to sneak in my favorite old school Disney flicks), comedy night, parent’s pick, kid’s pick, holiday favorites, sports themed flicks… the possibilities are endless!

ART DAY– Who doesn’t love getting messy?  Even more of a reason to have a family art day!  Last summer my daughter and I visited Art Monkey in FishHawk a few times.  We had so much fun and even painted a father’s day mug.  Outside there is a small splash zone and a yummy pizzeria where you can grab a slice.  There are also plenty of places to sit and a grassy area where you could enjoy a picnic lunch as well.  We are hoping to visit Art Monkey again this summer, but we are also hoping for an art day (or two… or three…) at home.  One of our favorite things to do is paint!  Our next project is a stepping stone kit that my daughter got for Christmas.  We are excited to create and decorate the stepping stones and put them outside of our house as decorations.

VISITING A STATE PARK OR SPRING– We have recently started visiting more state parks with the kids, which is always so much fun.  Our last trip was to Alafia River State Park.  We played at the volleyball nets and took a short hike.  Even the baby enjoyed the hike from the comfort of his stroller!  There are so many awesome state parks with playgrounds, hiking trails, kayaking, etc.  Most only charge a small fee to enter and you can spend the whole day.   This summer we are hoping to go back to Weeki Wachee Springs.  Tickets are relatively cheap at $13.00 for adults and $8.00 for kids 6-12.  Kids 5 and under are free!  The mermaid show, reptile show and riverboat ride are all included in admission. There is a beautiful fresh water spring for swimming with water slides, as well as a kiddie splash area for the little ones!  According to their Facebook page, it has been super busy on the weekends, so it may be best to visit early in the day during the week.  We are hoping to visit Weeki Wachee and a few state parks for some family fun and nature exploration!

Alafia State Park (left) and the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach (right)

GAME NIGHT– Another great way to spend a summer day is a game day/night.  You can plan indoor and outdoor games.  Our daughter loves board games!  She also loves card games like “Go Fish” and freeze dance.  How about a family game of Twister, a hula hoop contest or a dance off?  You can spend a whole day playing games inside and outside! We even get our little guy involved when we kick around the soccer ball outside.  Mini golf and bowling are two fairly inexpensive activities that we enjoy too!

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                                                                              Mini Golf

FAMILY COOK OFF or BAKE OFF– Cooking and baking are awesome activities to do with the kids.  It can be a great way to teach our kiddos about kitchen safety, healthy eating and pass down our favorite family recipes.  My daughter loves to bake with us and we also enjoy making homemade pizzas.  There are lots of fun kid recipes online that you can make with the little ones that don’t require an oven or stove.  If you have older kiddos, why not have a family cook off or bake off.  Mom and Dad can each lead a team to assist the kids and keep an eye out for safety.

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DEDICATED READING TIME- While we often think of summer as a time to kick back and relax, daily reading is crucial for kids.  We are planning for dedicated reading time daily.  During this time we will literally drop everything and read.  If your little ones are too young to read alone, this is a great time to explore new books with them.  If your kiddos are older and like to read on their own, that’s perfect! What an awesome way for mom to get time to read what she likes and the kiddos to read what they like.  The best part is that everyone is together in the same room reading with no distractions.  Our family also loves visiting the library or Barnes and Noble.  Its a great way to discover new books and spend some quality time! Oh and not to mention Barnes and Noble has a Starbucks!

COMMUNITY SERVICE– The final and most important thing we hope to do this summer is to give back.  There are so many ways to give back to the community that kids can be a part of.  Some ideas include bringing donations to or volunteering at your local food pantry, sending homemade cards to hospitals or nursing homes, or participating in a clean up at your local park or playground.  There are so many possibilities.  My daughter has asked to use money from her piggy bank to buy items for our church’s food pantry.  How awesome is that?!?

So there you have it!  I am excited for what this summer will bring as we move forward with our “budget friendly” activities.  HAPPY SUMMER!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Campo Family YMCA

By: Regan Burke

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The YMCA, otherwise known as The Young Men’s Christian’s Association, has come a long way since the days of old. Once a gathering of men seeking sanctuary for bible study during troubled times, the YMCA has developed over decades, across miles, and continents. Today the YMCA is so much more than that, although its history is rich, the “Y” offers a vast array of programs tailored to develop youth, seniors, families, and communities in all aspects of life.

Every Y seems to be a little different, from the programming to the facility itself, each tends to focus on and service its community a little differently than the next. Recently Everyday Moms partnered with the Campo Family YMCA to schedule a playdate at the facility’s splash pad. Between the employees leading fun water activities, the slides, and the fact that there were so many lifeguards present to help keep watch, this playdate was perfect for both mommies and children. The kids were so happy, and moms were all able to enjoy some quality adult conversation while the kiddies burned off some energy in a safe environment. While we were there we had the opportunity to learn a little more about what this facility had to offer and it was nothing short of impressive!

Family programming:

This Y, much like many others, aims to offer programs to help develop and strengthen the bonds that hold a family together. The family programs here offer opportunities to families that will not only develop them as individuals but create lasting memories that they can all carry with them.

Sports programming:

Whether you’re an adult just looking to keep up your skills and fitness in a friendly adult league or you are a parent looking to peak your child’s interest in a sport, the YMCA has many sports leagues to offer. While each Y tends to focus on certain sports, the Campo family YMCA offers basketball, volleyball, and swim teams as a way to sharpen skills, make friends, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Health programming:

With many other gyms, the intimidation factor starts the moment you walk in the door. Walking into the YMCA made me so incredibly comfortable. We learned of all the free or very affordable options they offer to aid someone in their fitness journey. Programs like Y weight and the diabetes prevention program help educate people in the areas of fitness, strength training, and cardiovascular training, but also in nutrition, which I learned in a key ingredient that so many people miss. The Campo Family Y also offers a wide array of group fitness classes, two appointments with a personal trainer (for free) upon joining the Y, and countless other events that support people in their goal to get healthier and stronger.

Senior programming:

The YMCA also offers both fitness a social programming for senior citizens in the area. They host social events, offer volunteering opportunities, AND fitness programs. Giving back to a population who has done so much for their communities seems like a no-brainer, yet no other “gyms” seem to offer them quite like the Y.

Other various offerings we learned about:

  • Birthday Parties
  • Holiday events (Easter, Christmas, etc.)
  • Free Judo Classes for members
  • Ballet
  • Boot Camp classes for home-schooled kids
  • Small group training classes
  • Youth and teen room
  • Huge kid’s zone, complete with tons of credentialed staff members, slides, arts and crafts, etc.

 

For families large or small, theres just not a better place. There are so many options; programs, sports, classes, and events offered under one roof, that are all for the betterment of both individuals and families.  The Y goes far beyond a few sets of weights and treadmills. It’s obvious to see that their goal is to give to the community in which it resides and that is something that we can get behind!

Going Pass Free for a Year

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My family is going to try something new this year. We are not buying or renewing any theme park, zoo, or aquarium passes. This decision came after a few visits I had with my daughter to Edward Medard Park. Hazel and I were completely relaxed there. We disconnected from the stresses of our day to day. We played, explored, and had discussions about nature and life. We need more days spent disconnected from our TV, video games, and Social Media.

We plan to spend more time in our state parks. We want to explore, ride our bikes, hike, and even kayak or canoe. Florida has much to offer us. The hard part is getting up, getting prepared, and doing it!

I recently joined a few Facebook groups that have been awesome resources for me. They are Tampa Homeschool Hiking Club and Hike It Baby Pasco/Hernando. I am going to homeschool my daughter. Tampa Homeschool hiking club offers weekday events and opportunities to interact with other families. Most of the events do not start until October, when the weather is more tolerable. Tampa Homeschool Hiking Club is a fabulously run and well organized group. Hike it Baby offers some weekend events and is a great opportunity for the entire family to get involved. They are also currently looking for members to lead future hikes.

The following is a list of places that we will attempt to mark off our list this year. Some we have visited in the past, but most of them will be new territory to explore:

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Weeki Wachee Springs

Edward Merdard Park

Hillsborough River State Park

Gator Creek Reserve Park

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park

Mosaic Peace River Park

Hammock Park

Circle B Bar Reserve

Myakka River State Park

Colt Creek State Park

Caladesi Island State Park

Aldermans Ford Park

Weedon Island Preserve

Fort Desoto State Park

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This list is just a small sample of what Florida and the surrounding Tampa Bay areas have to offer. I am excited explore with my family this upcoming year. If you have ever been to any of these locations and have any advice to offer, please share! I hope other Everyday Moms get on board and join me for some of these adventures. Let’s get up, get our families active, and take time to disconnect from social media. Pass free is the way to be (for now lol).

XOXO,

Suzette Foister

Mother, Wife, Owner/Artist at Bring Your Own Canvas

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A Working Mom

By: Leslie Jacobi

When I was growing up I never wanted to have kids. I wanted to live in a busy city, have an awesome career and live my days out like the girls on “Sex and the City”. I would see coworkers have kids and would just roll  my eyes at them. Why would you want to have kids while you work? I would NEVER let my kids go do daycare! If you can’t raise your kids, then you shouldn’t have them.

Fast forward 10 years and here I am. . . . .rushing out the door and dropping my daughter off at daycare. That’s right! The girl who once scoffed at other working moms is now a working mom herself. How did that happen?? Well, 4 years into our marriage my husband and I got baby fever. We had our daughter while I was finishing up Chiropractic school. It was the best decision of our lives. As any parent would tell you, there is nothing in this world that I love more than being a mom.

After finishing Chiropractic school, I spent many months waiting on my license and also getting my clinic set up. During this time, I was home with Emma full time. My girl likes to be busy and will let you know when she is bored. Our days were spent all over town doing stuff. Museums, parks, beaches and play dates. It was exhausting and so much fun. I look back on those months and treasure them. When my clinic was up and running, Emma started daycare 3 times a week.

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That first day of daycare was rough! Not for Emma, but for me.  I packed bottles of milk, brought a blanket and lots of pictures of our family. Her school told us to bring pictures so that they could put them in her crib for her. When I dropped her off, she went into her teacher’s arms and looked back at me with a big smile. I said goodbye and gave her a kiss and she waved at me. She was in heaven! No crying at all! As any parent will tell you, it is the hardest thing to leave your child at daycare. You feel so guilty and scared that something will happen. Even though I toured the school and talked to all the teachers, I was still worried. Emma is a very social kid. She loves people and actually gets pretty bored with me at home. All day I watched my phone. I called a few times to see how she was doing. As soon as my last patient left, I drove straight to her school to pick her up. When I got there, she was snuggled in  her teacher’s arms rocking in a rocking chair. She was so happy and content. I started to cry. I wasn’t crying because I was sad, I was crying because she was safe and secure. I spent my day feeling guilty and so much resentment towards my career. She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t wondering where I was. She was fine. She was ok. I was ok. I was fine. I knew where she was. I wasn’t scared.

Being a working mom isn’t easy, but really, being a mom isn’t easy. You feel guilty. You feel stretched in all directions. There isn’t enough time in the day. The list goes on. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mom or a stay at home mom. You always feel like you aren’t devoting enough time to your kids, family, spouse, career, friends or life! You feel guilty for having a career while your child is spending most of their day with someone other than you. I worry when my daughter took her first steps. . . were those REALLY her first steps? A funny thing happened the other day. I was so excited that Emma was using utensils. I put it on Facebook and sent emails to her grandparents. Look at how amazing my daughter is!! She learned to use a fork!!! I told her daycare teacher this the next day and her response was…. “Oh yeah, Emma has been using a fork for a few months now”. It is times like those where you feel deflated. You feel like it should have been YOU that saw that for the first time. It should have been ME that sees all her firsts. The truth is, she will have lots of firsts that I won’t see. That’s ok. It’s a lesson that I can’t and won’t always be there for my daughter. Sometimes she will have to do things on her own. It is a lesson that she will be ok even without me. Parents feel like we need to be around all the time for our kids, but the truth is. . . . we just can’t. That’s ok. They need to sometimes figure things out on their own. That’s how they grow. That’s how WE grow.

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As we raise our daughter, I am also “raising” my business. Right now, it is in its “toddler stage”. . . . exciting but stressful. I TRY to put equal attention into my daughter and my business. People are always talking about finding the “balance”. For me, I just can’t find that balance. Some weeks, I have to devote more time to my business. Other weeks, I need to devote more time to my daughter. I have not been able to find that “balance” everyone talks about. You know what. . . that’s ok. What works for some people, doesn’t work for everyone. At the end of the day, my business will be there and my daughter will continue to be happy and loved. That’s really all that matters.

Being a working mom is something that I now embrace. I’m proud of my daughter for doing so well in her daycare. I’m proud of myself for allowing my daughter to be on her own. I’m proud of my life. As moms, we need to own our life. We need to accept our life. We need to love our life. Resentment, guilt and sadness are toxic. Those toxic things are what destroys families and relationships. I can’t be with my daughter 24/7 and I own that. I am done feeling guilty about it, because my daughter is fine and loves her busy days. No matter what your situation is. . . own it and embrace it. It’s all we got in this life. My daughter is ok. I am ok. YOU are ok. As soon as we realize that, it makes this life a whole lot easier.