Day One of Summer Vacation: My four-year-old slept in until 8:30 a.m. We all woke up well-rested, ate a late pancake breakfast, played in our pajamas, and stayed up late catching fireflies. "This summer's gonna be AWESOME!"
Day Two: "I'm hungry!" (7 a.m. wake-up). "I'm bored!" (7:30 a.m.). "Oh, boy. It's going to be a looong summer."
As a stay-at-home mom, summer vacation means starting a new job, Summertime Vacation Director. You start it with great enthusiasm and big ideas, but this job, in reality, takes a bit of work. Setting a schedule always helps you feel more in control, but then you have to tackle how to fill the eight-plus hours of your work day. For me, this usually means we need to find somewhere to go, and that comes with a price tag.
Sure, you'd like to go to the movies, Build-A Bear, Kings Dominion, and Chuck E. Cheese (um, not really) everyday, but financially the cost of entertaining your kids all summer long may break you if you don't consider some more frugal options.
Thank goodness for our community pools, playgrounds, and sprayground! Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation has five pools and a sprayground, as well as Fantasy Playground and Tot Lots within walking distance for easy summertime fun. Don't forget about the paddle boats ($9 per hour) and mini golf ($3 per child) at Lake Ridge Marina. Love, love, love Lake Ridge community amenities!
If you're like me, I always have that SuperMom energy that makes me set big goals like wanting to take the kids on a field trip every week, and fizzles sometime around mid-July. However, here are some budget-friendly ideas to get your family out the door and break up the monotony once the newness of summer wears off.
Butterfly Pavilion at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Free on Tuesdays, but get there early. Time-entry tickets are available starting at 10:00 a.m., Address: Intersection of 10th Street and Constitution Ave., NW in Washington, D.C.
D.C. by Foot: Free walking tours around D.C. (They work for tips.) Reservations required. The tours start from various locations around the city.
National Zoo: Free, but parking is $10-$20 depending how long you stay. Animals like to sleep when it's hot, so a morning visit will be more entertaining and you're likely to see the animals being fed. Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
Potomac Nationals Baseball games: Mondays are "Dollar Nights", so not free, but close. Address: 7 County Complex Ct., Woodbridge, Va.
Rock Creek Park Planetarium: Free admittance. "Young Planetarium" show on Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. "Night Sky" show on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. for ages 5 and older. Tickets distributed half an hour prior to the show. Address: 5200 Glover Road NW, Washington, D.C. near the intersection of Military Road and Glover Road.
Saturday Mornings at the National Theatre: Free admission. Tickets distributed half an hour before the shows at 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Address: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.
WaterWorks Waterpark: Wednesdays Parent/ Tot Play Date (children 5 and younger). Enjoy the children's pool prior to the park opening, 9-10:30 a.m., June 20 – August 8. Cost: $3.50/child/session, Address: 5301 Dale Blvd, Dale City, Va. (Even regular admission isn't bad at $5.50-$7 per person!)
Wolf Trap's Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods performances
Tuesdays through Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Cost: $8-10, children younger than 2 are free. Picnic outside the amphitheater after the show. Address: 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, Va., behind the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Parking is free and available in the Filene Center lot.
Have a great summer! I'll see you out there with the kiddos. Just remember, we're all entitled to a pajama day now and then!