Occasionally someone will ask me how I find so many interesting activities and things to take my kids to do and see. If you like to go out a lot and enjoy filling up your calendar with really cool things to do – read this. If you prefer not too – don’t 😉
About 3 or 4 times a year, I sit down at the counter like this.
The magazines, flyers, and pamphlets are collected from various sources – the lobby in the library, some come in the mail, they are passed on to me by friends and neighbors, and some I find at entrances or exits of stores and ‘kid’ places.
I make the time to sit down with my massive pile of information. I circle things, mark pages with sticky notes, make phone calls and reservations and scribble our new engagements onto the calendar and directly into my SmartPhone complete with reminders (yes, it’s that difficult for me to remember stuff!)
Depending on the finances available at the time, I choose from a variety of free and paid events. There are plenty of free and low cost activities to attend. I also make a list of landmarks and historic locales that myself and the boys are interested in and I call ahead to find out if they offer free days during the year – some do and some don’t – but it’s worth asking.
I make notes on the calendar as to what exhibits are available in the museums during certain months – I hate to miss something.
When I come across a recurring event that we’ve missed (like the one above), I make a note on next year’s calendar so that we can take part in the future. It also helps when I come across something expensive so I have another year to set those funds aside.
I have purchased memberships to museums and zoos and I have requested memberships as EVERYONE’s collective birthday gifts. When we have a membership somewhere, we make that a focus of the 12 months that we have access and are sure to go often and take full advantage of what we’ve paid for. I believe we have been to Liberty Science Center 12-14 times in the last 10 months! We have also had a membership to Turtle Back Zoo and the kids have enjoyed it in every season. I Make sure I watch Groupon and Living Social Deals (and get tipped off by other homeschoolers) where we purchased memberships to The Newark Museum, The Franklin Institute and The Museum of Natural History. Our library has a program where we can ‘borrow’ passes for half a dozen great museums at no cost to us. Ask you library if they do.
I keep lists – lists of places we want to go, things we want to do and places we want to see. I always know where I want to go next or where we’ll head when the weather is ‘just right’.
This approach works for me for several reasons. One is, I am not good ‘on the fly’. I would not be able to pull something out of a hat when the kids wake up and say ‘can we go somewhere today?’ or if there weather is outstanding for a certain type of event or we find ourselves with an free day or empty weekend. All I have to do is look at the lists that have been compiling and choose something.
Sometimes activities require advance registrations or fill up quickly and I like getting them out of the way. I also like spending a larger block of time getting everything set up rather than doing it catch-as-catch-can. Of course things crop up that I had no knowledge of (say it ain’t so!), but at least I know that there are lots of good things on the calendar for a few weeks to come without having to think about it daily or weekly.
Now go! Go fill up your calendar! Like I said – only if you want to.