How To Have A Champagne Mommyhood On A Beer Budget
Part 1: Entertainment
Let's say you and your dearest have come upon the perfect storm....the stars have aligned and you actually have a day or night where you are both off work with no other duties...and someone is watching your offspring. *le gasp* Now, on a beer budget, how do we maximize our fun without emptying our wallets?
1. Movies - Nothing is nicer than watching an entire movie without having to worry about a short one burning down the house or maiming the cat. But that mess is expensive. How do we cut corners here? Make it a day date. Hubs and I had a wonderful day date on Tuesday. We went to the noon showing of "Chernobyl Diaries" and had a blast! By going to an earlier showing, we saved at least a few dollars. Another way to trim the cost...if the movie is showing in 2D and 3D, just go for the 2D. In my opinion anyway, 3D is very overdone right now..and since everyone is trying to get in on it, a lot of times it is just not worth the extra $3 per person. But if you have heard outstanding reviews for the 3D version and simply cannot pass it up, just go before 5PM (or whenever your local theater ups the price).
Now if you are looking to take your short one(s) to a movie, check the website (or box office/concession stand) of your preferred local theater for their summer movie schedule. One of mine will be doing a different movie a week, twice a week, for 9 weeks. Admission is FREE. w00t! My favorite of favorite words! And since the movie will be filled with other short people, noise coming from yours will be no issue at all.
2. Arcades, Bowling Alleys, Family Centers, ETC - After our movie on date day, Hubs and I went to the new bowling alley behind the theater. The prices are a bit higher than the other nearby bowling alley (and more than we were looking to spend) so we hit up the wonderful air-conditioned arcade instead. This arcade uses swipe cards instead of money or tokens. When you win tickets, they are deposited digitally onto your card also. We initially put $5 each on 2 cards, one for each of us. Since we had not been there before, we started small to get a feel for the place. After a round of fun, we decided to get another $5 each. I went over to one of those big prize drop games. This one was called Keymaster. You have to line up this "key" with the hole in a piece of plexiglass perfectly so it will pull on the plexiglass and release your prize...the prizes in this machine ranged from a few video games to a couple of iPads. I figured I would give it a shot to see how it worked. I ended up winning a $130 digital camera for my $1 investment! Hubs tried for the iPads and Kindle Fires, but neither of us could quite get them. So we moved on and played skee ball, this massive connect four game, and a few others. So the $20 dollars we would have spent on only 1 hour of bowling and shoes went into an hour or more of arcade games, a new digital camera, and toys for Lil Bit, which we used our tickets on. We maximized the fun while keeping the cost at a minimum. Putting just a little money at a time on the cards helped us not get carried away also. It's like, for me at least, putting $5 in gas in at a time versus filling the tank....the full tank makes me invincible and drive more than when I do just a little at a time.
I grabbed the price chart for the lanes...so maybe we will have a less expensive bowling option in the future. It never hurts to check in with even the pricier places to see when rates are at their lowest.
3. Parks - I am blessed to live an hour from the Gulf of Mexico (and glorious sugar sand beaches!) and about 10-15 minutes from Mobile Bay. There are also a ton of swimming holes dotted throughout my area, one about 5 minutes away. The bay does charge for parking seasonally, but I can go to our utilities board and get a free parking pass since I am a resident of the city. Otherwise it would be 8 bucks to get in. (Or a little polite sweet talking with the old guy manning the booth...a special thanks to him for letting me through for a friend's child's birthday party! I was upfront with him that I only had 5 on me, seeing as that was the first time I had seen someone manning the booth and had yet to get by the utilities board. Never underestimate the kindness of others, but never expect special treatment.)
Don't forget to check out your local playgrounds. In my little town we have a handful, so at least we have some options. The school I am hoping to send Lil Bit to in a couple years let's us visit and use their playground while we get a feel for the place too.
If you have a national park nearby, get a fee schedule so you can know the best times to go. Take a picnic lunch and spend a day in nature. The kids will sleep well that night for sure.
Kids+Playing+Sun=Happy restful night for mama...just keep the sun block handy. When you need a cheap way to wear the babies out, the outdoors is always one of your best bets. Lately Lil Bit and I have been going outside almost everyday to play with chalk and bubbles. We usually play in the water hose too. Even that little bit of play helps wear her terrible two-ness out. And she can play in the mud and get as dirty as she wants because I can just hose her off before we head inside...or just plop her straight in the tub.
4. Television - Heading back indoors...let's tackle the awful bills we accumulate so we can sit on our butts after bedtime and unwind...or so we can occupy the short ones long enough to clean the kitchen. Right now, I am so sick of our cable company that I could scream. Hopefully we can let them go soon. Once they are out of the way, we are planning to rely on Netflix and maybe Hulu through our XBOX 360. We can also browse YouTube through it and play DVDs. We may not see everything on the first run, but the money saved will be more than worth it...even if my husband is completely in love with the DVR. ;)
That's all I can think of for now, but if you have a topic you have not seen covered here, let me know in the comments, and I will add it to the list. Feel free to leave your own advice in the comments as well. =)