I could pretty much sum this post up in two words; PLAN AHEAD, but I will elaborate. If you want your family fun day to be both successful and affordable, planning ahead is key. Following is a list of things to consider when planning a fun and affordable Family Fun Day…
1. Create a checklist of items to take a few days in advance (not the morning of) and check them off as you prepare for the big day of fun. Think towels and dry clothes for beach or lake trips; snacks, meals and drinks; sunglasses and sunscreen for summer days, rain or snow gear for winter days, maps or directions, schedules for events, etc.
2. Check the weather the night before and be sure everyone dresses appropriately. Pack extra clothes, umbrellas, sun hats or whatever is appropriate the night before, so as not to forget in all the excitement of the next day.
3. Plan and pack meals and snacks. Not only will your family fun day go much smoother if your food is already prepared, but it can save you loads of money. The price of a snack at a movie theater could buy you a meal at the grocery store, and beverages are one of the highest marked up food items. Insulated beverage cups are a huge money saver in our house. I use mine every single day, and Little R’s milk stays cool and fresh for hours longer in her insulated sippy.
4. When planning your family fun day, check event schedules and business calendars for discount days and times. Everyone knows mattine movies cost less, but did you know, most zoos offer a discount day, as well as most county fairs? Even our local pool has one day a month when entry is half off. Just be prepared you may have to deal with larger crowds those days.
5. Speaking of crowds, check event calendars for special entry days and times. For example, our local pool offers “toddler time” for a few hours before it opens to all ages. This is great for little ones (or parents) who get a little overwhelmed by large crowds and noisy teenagers.
6. Consider your regular daily schedule and try to keep to it. Family fun time can quickly turn not-so-fun, when interrupting normal sleep and meal times. If your family is anything like mine, they get a little cranky when they are hungry and a lot cranky if they don’t get enough sleep. Try to avoid any activities or events that interfere with normal sleep patterns, and pack “emergency” snacks, meals and beverages. If you have nappers in your house, then be prepared to get out of the house early enough to be back in time for nap, or leave after they’ve woke from nap.
7. Dress appropriately. Okay, so I kind of touched on this one, but I want to remind parents that this one is for you too. As a stay-home mom, i don’t get out much. Sometimes I can get a little overexcited when I do leave the house and forget to dress for the occasion. Like I want to wear a skirt and strappy heals to the bounce house. Yeah, I actually did that. Oops! So remember, comfy clothes and tennies are best for keeping up with your kids, and trust me, they will want/expect you to do everything they do.
Last but most importantly…
8. Choose age appropriate activities. Remember, Family Fun Days are all about the kids! This is an opportunity to build lasting memories (as well as impressions) for your kids. You may be an avid fisherman, but your 2 year old daughter may not be ready to sit in a boat for hours on end waiting for something exciting to happen. Young kids have very short attention spans, so activities in which the entertainment changes as quickly as their interest is best. For example; the zoo has a ton of different exhibits, if your child gets bored with one, then you can simply move on to the next. Just remember to stop for drinks and snacks along the way!