Your toddles's party of a Budget
Posted on Apr,16 2019
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3 Ideas for Making This Summer Special

In case you have forgotten to flip your empty calendars this week, it's June!  Summer has snuck up on us this year in a way that even Christmas can’t.  I had hopes of rocking the summer gig with planned events, themed adventures, explorative outings, and memorable summer splurges, but I used them all up before the end of April.   I hope I am not alone in feeling this odd mix of “how is it already June?” and “didn’t summer start 6 years ago??”.   Even though this summer kind of feels like just an extended version of what we’ve been trying to manage, I wanted to encourage you with a few things I am going to try in hopes of making this season special:


Go Reusable

I spent my spring trying to put together little educational crafts and fun games for my kids to try to limit their screen time, and while a lot of them were cute and thrifty, if I find one more pom pom ball or googly eye staging a revolt against my vacuum cleaner I might give up arts and crafts forever.  I am sure we will still do a few things here and there…what summer would be complete without half soupy ice cream made in a baggie, after all?  But for the most part, I am going to take a break from the daily projects (give myself a pass from the late-night scrolling and scrambling to find a next day ‘no-prep’ educational activity…which is never ‘no-prep’ by the way, and who actually has all of the stuff they claim you should have right there in your home???) and invest my time and money into something the kids can use all summer long.  After seeking wisdom from some mom-friends that have been in this gig longer than I have, here are a few things I am deciding between for our summer budget:

  • inflatable backyard toys
  • a projector for outdoor movie nights with the neighbors that we finally met
  • a new tent for backyard camping
  • a portable fire pit for S’mores 
  • fishing poles for mornings at the pond
  • a water gun arsenal (my husband is fairly invested in this one)

Document It

I struggle with finding the balance between pulling my phone out to capture every little bite of a popsicle and not taking any photos out of a technology protest.  Instead of feeling guilty for going either direction, I want to be more engaging and intentional in how I document our summer.  My kids love taking pictures with my phone, but it is always a fight over who can hold it and for how long.  I also bury mini panic-attacks every time they want to hold the really nice camera that belongs to their grandma and costs more than I really want to write a check to ‘Lolli’ for…so I am getting them a camera they can use and adventure with.  STEP 1 – take pictures.  STEP 2 – print pictures!  Anytime I order photos, the kiddos love flipping through them and pointing out themselves or their family or fun things they see or remember…all while I cringe at the fingerprints and smudges and leftover lunch fragments now dawning my images.  I am going to print pictures this summer with the smudges in mind because I know my crazies will love looking through the images they took…maybe I’ll even reopen the previously closed arts and crafts corner for some glue to make a scrapbook…maybe.  

Be Engaging

I was asked recently by Rhea Lana what my favorite moment from quarantine had been – easy - all of the time we got to spend FaceTiming the grandparents who live out of state.  A slower season has opened up space for our families to connect more on a regular basis, and I am loving it.  As the season of quarantine starts to carefully blend into the activities of summer - as things start to open up again, schedules start to refill, evenings begin turning into outings, weekends return to to-do lists – I don’t want to get so busy trying to entertain my kids with things that I miss moments to encourage my kids to engage.  I want to keep calling family on a regular basis.  I want to send cards with my kids’ paint splashes and swooshes to my own grandparents who I am still unable to see face to face.  I want to take my littles on field trips to friends’ houses to drop off treats just because it’s fun.  I want to sign-up for the online VBS experience that so many churches are offering and learn the silly songs along with my crew.  I want to keep going on the walks and the hikes and rides, even if they usually include a few tantrums, a series of whiny requests for the unreasonable, and poop…our kids are 3,2 and 1, so there is always poop.  


Moms, summer is upon us.  I don’t know if that makes you excited that the schoolwork facilitator hat is off, or if it makes you anxious because you just swapped that hat for the cruise director one, but we are cheering for you.  No matter how you choose to spend this summer, remember to give yourself grace, rely on your tribe when you can, and refill your coffee cup as needed.  

By Danae Hawthorne