I’ve been self-employed as a freelance writer for about two years. It didn’t take long for me to realize that working with kids underfoot is not conducive to success. Luckily, I can afford summer day care for my kids. My oldest son usually goes to a local YMCA day camp, and my youngest stays at his day care’s summer program. We could do that again this year, but at a cost of $500 per week, I’d rather have the summer’s $6,000 in childcare expenses for other things. Here’s my plan to do my job well, save money on daycare and still give my kids a fulfilling summer experience.
Sharing the Load
If you have a friend that you can co-parent with, I can’t stress enough how helpful such an arrangement can be. My neighbor and I will be swapping days watching the kids. He will take them on his two days off; I will take his son for two days as well. That leaves me two days plus the weekend free from kid distractions. I will use those days to do the work that requires the greatest mental concentration.
Planning for Fun
That leaves me with three days per week when I must be both mom and worker. Now, I don’t expect my kids to hang around the house all day with no stimulation, nor do I expect to send them out in the yard to play all the time. I want this summer to be special for them and me. So, we’ve worked out a daily plan that gives me time to work and all of us time for recreation.
When left to their own preferences, the kids are late risers anyway. They enjoy putting around the house. I’ll let them have lazy mornings, make them lunch at noon and head out at 1pm for family activities in the area. Since summer day care costs about $100 per day, I have a roomy budget for us to pull from. Still, I don’t expect to spend much. I’ll be employing my frugal mind to pick out affordable family fun.
Fun in the Sun
We’ll go to the beach, visit local museums and do some learning activities. I can’t wait to take the kids on a Photography 101 day where we’ll drive around our local area and take pictures. We’ll focus on interesting things we see every day but never stop to appreciate.
Of course, not every day will be sunny, so we have plans for rainy days too. I found a tie-dye T-shirt kit for $7 and plan to get the t-shirts cheap online. We will paint, make our own play-dough, cook, and watch the occasional movie. Every time I see an activity that might fit a rainy day, I make a note on an ongoing list to ensure I always have fun ideas for us on those days.
Making it Special
I recently found an old scrapbook album that I never got around to using. The kids and I plan to use it for journaling and scrapbooking our summer adventures. Not only will this be an affordable summer, it’ll be the one we remember forever.
Jessica Bosari is a personal finance blogger who contributes to LowIncomeApartmentFinder.com. The site matches renters with cheap apartments in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, New York and other major cities.