The warm months bring the kids home from school and you know that as much fun as summer offers, it also bring its own unique stressors. Summertime routines are different and often more laid back than school-year routines which means they’re not necessarily easier on the stress-o-meter.
Moms don't like to squander resources, especially money, patience, and sunshine, so summertime savings is likely high on your list. Here are five easy ways to save money, time and stress in order to let you splurge a bit on some fun in the sun:
Whether you are in an out-of-the-home work location or at home with kids all summer, there are going to be changes to your regular routine to accommodate the break from school. Summer should be fun for you as well as your kids, and that means sharing the extra workload summer brings so everyone can have fun. If you're shouldering all the work, you'll have no time for an impromptu ice cream parlour visit or a pick-up game of soccer in the park. Talk to your kids before the summer is in full swing and let them know what your expectations are for chores for the next eight weeks. Seek their input; explain that when mom has help with the extra work, it's less stress for everyone. Small kids can put away silverware and fold laundry. Bigger kids and teens can help with gardening chores or cook dinner once a week. Less work = less stress, and when chores are divided, fun is multiplied.
Make sure you take time for yourself during the summer. Yes, this is "heard it before, lady!" news, but that's for a reason - we keep saying it because no one does it. Even carving out 15 minutes in the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee will help reduce your stress load. You can't unwind when all your time is spent doing things for - or thinking about - other people. Take the summer as an opportunity to explore something you've always wanted to do: try a beginner course in photography, singing, underwater basket weaving or nude painting! Many community colleges offer 6 or 8 week summer courses, so have a look online. Sit down with Google for an hour and plan your own summer freedom! It doesn't matter WHAT you do, just do something that gets you away from the people you're legally obligated to care for at least an hour or two per week.
The only things you should have to do twice in one day are super fun things like read a novel in peace or get a massage from the new guy at the spa with the really strong arms. This list would most definitely not include washing the same load of laundry twice. I don’t care how fancy your washing machine is – if you need to do a load over and over because your detergent leaves it smelling like a teenage field hockey player, you’re depriving yourself of time off.
Spend money on products that save you time. I will eat discount rack watermelon all summer before I buy low-end laundry detergent because my time is important and I am not too high-falutin’ to cut around some bruises. If you’re washing dishes twice because you chose your dishwashing liquid based on the fact that the colour matched your wallpaper, you’re wasting your time. (You should also possibly get out of your kitchen more often.) A quality brand doesn't cost a fortune – names like Tide Simply Clean & Fresh Laundry Detergent and Ultra Dawn Dishwashing Liquid work amazingly well and can cost literally pennies per use – and more importantly, you're done with washing in half the time.
You’ll never see me pushing a shopping cart loaded with cat food and contact lens cleaner, but I do like to use coupons. One place I check often is PGEverydaysolutions.ca. You’ll find coupons and discounts on things you actually use (toothpaste, hair colour, Charmin toilet paper) instead of Buy One Get One offers on 400 pound bags of road salt. I keep this website bookmarked on my computer and before I head out to pick up groceries, I see if there are coupons applicable to my needs. Finding savings in regular daily expenses adds up! Before long you'll find saving on your daily expenses will allow you to afford splurges that are truly worth the dollars spent.
Families tend to do more together during the summer because the warm weather beckons them, and keeping your family outings within a controllable budget will ease stress - a fun day out isn't so great if you're worrying for weeks over how to slice your budget to pay for it.
A day at an amusement park can cost upwards of a weekly mortgage payment and from July until September my kids are constantly asking to go places like “Super Zonkers Extravaganza Bonanza Water Adventure Zone.” The truth is, even a few of those day trips in a season is still cheaper than loading everyone up for a few weeks away at a resort, so I make them happen as often as I can. And spending money on licensed, regulated parks is worth it - no one has fun at water parks with names like “Rusty Nail Acres.”
Spending time with my family is the best way to beat summer stress and knowing I'm having fun without breaking my budget eliminates anxiety over whether we can enjoy hot burgers and cold ice cream instead of fighting over the good side of a .99 cent melon on a parking median in an amusement park parking lot. The dollars saved by watching my daily expenses adds up fast and before you know it we're headed out for another wristband-wearing, height regulated adventure.