Spring is a great time for an adventure! Just like the tufts of grass finally feeling brave enough to begin turning green, I am beginning to feel confident enough that I may not get caught in an ice storm to consider making some real plans for myself and my little tribe. An excursion outside of the status quo is good for the spirit, gives us something to look forward to, and creates memories!
As a mom, I feel good when I can share a unique experience with my kids, something that becomes ours, but also something that can add to their collective wisdom and value as a person. I look at our adventures as an investment in their life education, and a real-time lesson with elements of necessary life skills with a dusting of magic. Like any good learning experience, it can combine some truly useful information with unforgettable splashes of exciting and new moments.
I am planning such a “mom-venture” in March when I will take my son (15), daughter (13) and bonus daughter (16) for a weekend getaway to Cincinnati to see the Broadway hit, Hamilton. We’re going to dress up and go to a fancy restaurant for dinner, see the show, then stay in a nice downtown hotel overnight.
No, it’s not a 10-day cruise to the Bahamas. No, we don’t need to take a plane or passports to go on our caper, and I didn’t need to work overtime to pay for it. It doesn’t matter that our trip will only take us two hours away from home, because we will have fun, we will learn, and share something special together.
What matters is that my son is over the moon with excitement to see the play, and it’s inspired him to read all kinds of books about Alexander Hamilton and get involved with politics. What matters is that my daughter, who plays violin in her school orchestra, is excited to see professionals in action doing what she loves. What matters is that my stepdaughter is excited to re-visit a city she loves and has taken it upon herself to research the other area attractions and the lay of everything on the map.
An outing, even in the same state, has evolved into a highly-anticipated event when my kids can:
What’s the address? What route do we want to take? How much time do we need to allow? How do we troubleshoot through construction, traffic, and other unforeseen issues? What items do you take on a trip depending on the season, activities planned, and space available? Who will take care of the pets while we’re away?
Gain better comprehension of the value of goods and services, how much money is required for a hotel, restaurant, gas money, parking, or ticket, gratuities, budgeting for a special occasion, then paying for each item.
How do you choose a hotel and make a reservation? What amenities are priorities? How do you check into a hotel? How do you select and purchase tickets or find out about events? How do you find your seats in a large theater (or airplane, or another place with tickets and assigned seats)? How do you call an Uber or use public transportation? How do you find your room in a hotel?
What do you wear to a nicer restaurant, theater, or other venue (as compared to an outdoor concert, sporting event, evening versus day activity)? How do you order off a menu? What do good table manners look like? How do we conduct ourselves in a hotel, theater, or other public places?
They can see the sights, meet the people, and experience life in different places. They can have an opportunity to see places that they might only see on TV (e.g. Great American Ballpark) and learn about the history and culture of different places.
Every mom has her own definition of fun and adventure, and a budget and other resources to match. Some excursions may be on a grand scale for time, destination, and money, while others may only take us around the block and require a small allotment of time. Never fear if an African safari or trip to the Eiffel Tower is out of your reach because outings can be planned to fit any interest or budget, and they can be just as rich with learning opportunities and fun!
How can you plan a fun but budget-friendly spring break getaway?
Not every getaway has to include mouse ears, lots of money, or complicated arrangements. You can find unique places to go (or even re-visit your old favorite spots) right in your own community or within a short commute. Not every getaway can be of epic proportions. For most of us, it’s simply not possible; but, even if it was, kids won’t appreciate a steady diet of only mega-events. It’s important to know a variety of experiences, both small and larger, to fully appreciate the value of the big ones.
The most important thing that kids will gain from time with mom? Time with mom! The place and the activities are truly secondary to attention and all the great conversation, laughter, and memories created in the process. Just the fact that you chose to set aside time and plan something fun will mean the world to your kids, even if you can’t shell out the big bucks. So, check out the local haunted history tour, art class, music in the park, or get creative and go on a photo scavenger hunt together!
Do you know someone who has a cottage by the lake, a tent you can borrow, or a spare bedroom you can crash in for the night? Your personal connections may offer you a foot in the door to a different city or kind of experience than what you could normally manage without spending a lot of cash. Ask around for recommendations of fun activities and destinations of all sizes, then do some internet investigation for the cheapest times to visit, packages, and other deals.
Kids don’t have to step outside their own zip code to have a good time. In fact, you may have a blast simply by hosting your own movie marathon, sleeping in a blanket fort, and trying out a new recipe together. You can still incorporate a learning element to your activity by using themes, which you can reinforce with costumes, crafts, food, music, and more- most of which can be done on the cheap!
Footing the bill for all the bells and whistles can be costly, so consider what aspects of your adventure are most important and pay for those. If going out to eat in addition to paying for tickets to the big game is just too much, then pack a picnic and choose a scenic place to share your meal. No one will care that they’re eating turkey sandwiches from home because sparkling conversation and a unique setting will take center stage! If you do spring for a hotel, consider getting the most bang for your buck by choosing one that includes free breakfast and maybe a pool to splash in to add value to your outing.
Perhaps your dream is to take the kids on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation extraordinaire, but you can only manage bowling at present. That’s okay. As the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” What you can do is research the anticipated cost of your dream trip, then determine how much money you can spare to save to reach that goal. In the meantime, enjoy some smaller fun dates, such as bowling, that are more easily attainable. If you stick to your plan, you will eventually be able to make your dream trip a reality!
Mom-ventures come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities- just like moms- and they’re one of the more rewarding aspects of motherhood! Spring is a great time to start checking around for interesting activities coming soon to your area or to start planning something at a greater distance. The most valuable souvenir to bring home from any excursion with the kids is the heartwarming memories of time spent together and activities enjoyed as a family. Don’t let the cost of some activities frighten you away from the multitude of lower cost options right outside your door; but most of all, have fun!
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