Every day is its own adventure. In the hustle and bustle of life sometimes we forget to enjoy ourselves and each other. The best way to remember how much fun we all are is to have a family day! Get out!! Hit the local park or beach and play.
From museums, to theme parks, to state or national parks to city days, I love exploring. As a family we all are active and like to get out into nature. Hiking, kayaking, riding the waves, or just strolling through, its the experience of seeing new sights that inspires us. Appreciating the beauty of the world around us is good for the mental psyche, and research shows that spending more time in nature is one way to combat depression and anxiety. We live in Florida, where there are lots of outdoor places to enjoy. My job is to have as much fun as possible while spending as little money as possible.
I've always had to enjoy my family with a tight budget and made the most of every free place and event I could find. Often I brought our own food and drinks to cut costs and even snuck food into locations it may have been frowned upon! But all in all my children are growing and I will not look back wishing I'd bought that pepsi from the convenience store. I will wish we laughed more, smiled more, talked more. No one will remember that I didn't buy the skittles at the gas station, but they will surely remember the road trip!
What's the secret to enjoying the day out with your kids? Just a little vision and planning. What ever you decide - TRY TO FOLLOW THROUGH! If you decide we are going to the park from 5 - 7 stick to the plan (of course blood, puke or horrible weather permitting) and: Engage. If you are sitting across the park and noticing how high they can swing or how fast they can climb they will lose interest sooner. The first goal is to build sustainability. If they discover it is fun to be out, this will lead to the acceptance that being out is fun. And how many of us have seen a kid that never wants to leave the house? Make it rewarding, reward with attention not material items if at all possible. And children are just as happy getting negative attention as positive attention so try to keep it positive when ever possible to set the tone. Remember: What you look for you see more of. I can not stress that enough. If you look for excuses and problems you will find them galore! If you look for the good - it will be abundant.
My second secret: Stick to your budget. Yes, they are going to ask for every candy, sweet, and treat along the way. This is where you teach moderation, or control, or simply, no. If you plan to not spend any money - DONT. If you decide before hand, I have $5.00 I can use today, then stick to that. Can you get drinks for $5.00? Ice cream? There are possible items for what ever you decide, but what ever you decide needs to be defined and respected, first by you then by your children so that the understanding is : I have already thought about this and know the answer. It will save a lot of begging and whining once the ground rule is My plan is able to be trusted. It's a great message. It will build to bigger and better adventures.
We have had many - we have had day trips and over nights, and then upgraded to longer stays and full blown family vacations. As a single mama of four ranging in ages 10 years apart, and on a teacher's salary many people ask me how I do it. So I am going to share some of my tips and secrets, and itineraries. I am hoping other families will use them to get out more and enjoy the land around us! I am most excited to get to the most recent trip we took. 18 days in the Great South West! We circled the Grand Canyon seeing Vegas, Zion, Bryce, The North Rim, Monument Valley, and the South Rim before driving to California for some more amazing sight seeing. But I know this trip was successful due to my kids being A) Old enough to appreciate the magnitude (Although I think this trip is good for every and any body) and B) All the ground work we laid previously. Yes I know my budget is tight. But I also don't make that annoying. I don't make it a deterrent. It's more like a game. How much can we get for this amount of $$? I do also save a little for going over the budget, and so I don't have to freak out of I need to spend more than planned for variables I couldn't control. Like many Hotels that have a deposit, or the rental car deposit. I try to find all of that out ahead of time to be ready. Also, I keep a little cash on my for emergencies which eases my anxiety. Know your personal stresses and plan ways around these ahead of time.