I’m a frugal mom, obvi. But there are some things I will happily pay for, even if it’s not cheap, if I think it’s a good value or it’s important for my family. Here are a few family activities I believe are a great value.
1- Live Theater
I’ve always loved live theater. Seeing stories come to life on stage has always been so magical for me. My all time favorite is definitely Wicked. And I was thrilled when I could finally pass the love for theater on to my children. And not just because I love it, but also because it’s really good for them.
According to research published in Education Next, live theater enhances kids’ literary knowledge and increases vocabulary and empathy. Studies showed kids exposed to live theater had “greater tolerance and improved ability to read the emotions of others.” And if I can do anything as a mother, I hope it’s to teach my children empathy and kindness for others.
That’s why we were so excited to attend a performance of Mary Poppins at The Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Ft Myers, Florida, thanks to complimentary tickets from the theater.
Photo Courtesy: Broadway Palm
Aside from it being an awesome experience, with great food.. the show was amazing. The look on my daughter’s face while she hung on every word spoken and sang, was so heartwarming. She loved the photo props in the lobby too. 🙂 It was a great experience all around.
To me, that’s money well spent.
Another place where I see my kids’ eyes light up with wonder is at museums.
I started taking them when they were pretty young because a museum near us hosted a summer program with an art exhibit, children’s story and a craft. I think the correlation between seeing art on the walls and making art with their own hands made the concept more accessible and interesting.
The opportunities for learning at museums are endless because there are so many museums now that are geared toward kids with science experiments and hands-on exhibits.
Living near the ocean, it’s important to me that my kids understand and appreciate marine life and how human actions impact them. Aquariums do a great job of teaching all that.
Zoos are another great place to learn about animals and how people impact their lives and their habitats. And they often have holiday events that kids love like Boo At The Zoo around Halloween.
5- Sports games
My husband is a big sports lover and the sport most revered in our house is baseball. It’s not cheap to take the whole family to an MLB game, but it’s a special event we budget for whenever possible. I know it means a lot for my husband to pass on his love for the game to his son.
I think it also teaches healthy competition. Both teams do their best and one team wins and one loses.
6- Water/Nature Activities
I love taking the kids kayaking or canoeing. We took an amazing canoe trip earlier this year and saw a manatee family. It was a great experience for the kids to get off the screens, experience nature and observe amazing creatures in their own habitat.
My daughter and I often run races together. She started with short kids’ fun runs and now does 5Ks with me. It’s so great to watch her try something new and hard and conquer it.
She recently ran the Freedom 5K race with me and did an amazing job. I think it’s a great foundation to help her push herself toward her goals throughout life.
8- Beach Vacations
This is obviously something I feel strongly about. I loved going to the beach so much I quit my job and we moved to the Gulf Coast. Well, there were other reasons too.. 😉 but it was a big selling point.
Beach vacations are not only a blast, they help kids and parents break free from the stresses and routines of daily life and have fun and bond.
9- Travel to other countries
This is one I hope to do soon. The furthest trip we’ve taken the kids on so far has been St Thomas. We hope to take them abroad some day. There is so much culture and knowledge to gain by traveling the world.
10- Dining out
This strikes fear into the heart of many parents. They predict crying, tantrums, throwing things, screaming. And that’s all probably true. But many parents contend that if you start early and continue, it’s a great training ground for manners and patience. It’s also a great opportunity to teach kids to be adventurous and try new foods, which could also have a big impact at home.
So now that you have a to-do list of fun family activities, how do you make these adventures more affordable? Here are a few ways.
Groupon is a great place to start looking for coupons for lots of different family activities and entrance fees to museums, aquariums and zoos.
If you don’t have immediate plans to use them, it’s not a bad idea to snap them up for a rainy day. Or you can hold on to them to give as a gift or use when family visits.
2- Cash Back
You can also get cash back on family activities through a great app called Dosh (affiliate link). You can search for activities in your area (either where you live or where you are traveling) and book them right through the app. And you get cash back just for paying with your connected card. No need to put in a code, scan a receipt or wait for a rebate. You can see your cash back add up right in the app, which you can transfer directly to your back account.
3- Annual Passes
You can save a great deal of money by getting an annual pass to a place you know you will visit a lot. Many passes will pay for themselves after just a few visits.
Instead of asking family and friends for more toys for the kids on their birthdays or major holidays (because let’s face it, they have more than enough), you could suggest passes to zoos, aquariums or museums instead.
A fun and memorable experience, in my opinion, is a much better investment than toys.