Free (Or Cheap) Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer

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Summer is finally here! No more homework checks, or school lunches, or uniforms. The kids get to have sleep in, have fun, and enjoy some time being kids.

And it took all of three hours for mine to say I’m  bored.

When you’re on a tight budget the idea of keeping your kids entertained throughout the summer can seem pretty daunting. So many things cost so much money. With three kids a single day at an amusement park can easily cost us 200.00 or more…that is definitely not in our budget! But summer fun doesn’t always have to break the bank. Below are some ways you can have fun with the kids this summer, without dishing out a bunch of cash in the process.

Parks and Splash Parks  

They are fun, and they are free! Pack a few snacks and some sunscreen and hit the park for an afternoon of fun. The best part is that the other kids there will keep your little one occupied, so mama can sit down and snag a small break…maybe.

Museums

Although many museums do charge an entrance fee, if you do your homework you an often find once that offer free admissions or search out the few days a year when your local museum offers free or reduced price admission. For example the Smithsonian Institute, Pioneers Museum, Bronx Museum, and Olympic Sculpture park all offer free admission. Museums are a great way to keep your child’s mind engaged and learning this summer, and they usually have air conditioning which is always a plus for me.

Movies in the Park, or in the backyard

Movies in the park is one of our favorite summer activities, we pack a cooler with our favorite snacks and a blanket and load up to go spend a night watching movies under the stars. Every place we have ever lived has offered this activity 100% free. If your community doesn’t offer this activity you can still turn your backyard into your own drive in. You can get projectors fairly inexpensive on Amazon and hang a sheet on an outside wall as a screen.

Invite some friends over for some DIY Jenga, or a water balloon fight using reusable water balloons, and it turn it into a party.

Craft Your Heart Out (DIY sidewalk paint, bubble paint, make a bird feeder)

My kids love any chance they have at making a mess, it’s honestly just a bonus to them if something cute comes out in the process. In the winter time I find myself trying to keep our crafting low key, because I don’t want to spend 3 hours cleaning up a 20  minute craft while my kids destroy the rest of the house. Can you blame me?

But in the summer, the kids can craft outside, and they can make any mess they want as long as the water hose will clean it up! We’ve tried DIY Sidewalk paint, making bird feeders, and adding food coloring to a homemade bubble mixture to create bubble paint. To help with our budget, I generally look for crafts with ingredients we already have, as well as things like thread spools as bubble blowers so we don’t have to spend extra money.

Go for a hike

Whether it’s a state park with long and winding trails, or exploring your town on own two feet, getting out and hiking together is a great way to spend time as a family. It also will wear the kids out, so that’s always a plus.

Stargazing

Any reason to stay up late earns a big thumbs up in my kids books. Lay out a blanket and grab an astronomy book for kids. Make a game out of seeing who can find the most constellations, or count the most stars. My kids love to play ‘connect the dots’ to see what kinds of shapes they can come up with on their own!

Lowe’s and Home Depot Workshops

My grandpa always told me that he was so glad I loved to learn, but to make sure I learned skills as well as books. Lowe’s and Home Depot must feel the same way, and both provide the perfect learning environment for our little ones. Lowe’s offers Build and Grow Clinics every Saturday, while Home Depot offers theres once a month on average from what I’ve seen. The best part is both are completely free, and kids get to keep what they build.

Volunteer

I mentioned that giving back can be a fun activity in my Date Nights post a few weeks ago, but it’s not just for grown ups! There are a lot of areas where kids can get involved in communities too. Like playing with animals at the pound, collecting food for shelters, or helping to organize the inventory at the local food pantry.

Library Fun

Story time, crafts, foreign language classes, cooking classes, and so much more are offered at our local library for kids. And all of it is completely free. As a family we try to go once a week to get new books, and we try to schedule it at a time that an activity is scheduled. This summer our local library has programs teaching kids about music and movement, recycling, and the Rain Forest, and community helpers.

What kinds of things do you plan to do with your kids this summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Why Minimal Waste (And Why I Don’t Say Zero Waste)

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So I spoke a little bit about why we are going minimal waste in a video last month, but I left many people confused because minimal waste is not nearly as popular of a phrase as it’s Zero Waste sister. Although I could have left things at that video, I thought it would be best to address why I call my journey a Minimal Waste journey, and what that exactly means for my family.

First off, like I mentioned in the video, going Zero Waste is really not an option for my family. We got through so many syringes, oxygen masks, and medicine bottles that I will literally always have some sort of plastic in my home that is unavoidable. But that is not the only reason why we are Minimal Waste instead of Zero Waste.

Yes, I could go on a mission and get rid of everything disposable in our home other than Austen’s medical supples, and never bring those things back in. I could, but I won’t. And that’s because I do not feel that that is necessarily a healthy way to live my life. I know if I tried to live my life that way I would obsess over it to the point of not focusing on anything else, it’s just the way I am, so I choose not to.

Instead we have set up some ground rules for our home that we try to follow in order to cut down on the waste we create and not bring as many wasteful things into our home.

  • We follow the 5 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and Refuse that I learned about in the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson.
  • We buy as much as we can without packaging. This includes shampoo, face soap, conditioner, and most food items.
  • We have made guidelines of what types of plastics we are okay with bringing into our home, namely cosmetics cases, milk cartons and milk cartons that I am unable to find in non plastic containers.
  • We do not purchase things in styrofoam, or use disposable plates or cutlery.
  • We got to know our communities recycling guidelines, and make sure anything we do bring in that is plastic falls within those guidelines.
  • We are focused more on lowering our trash output than our recycling output at the moment. Once we get that under control we plan to tackle that as well.
  • As things in our house break or become unusable that are made of plastic, we plan to replace them with sustainable alternatives. For example, when my plastic dish rack broke a few months back we replaced it with a bamboo option.

As time goes by my goal is to lower our output 85-90%. Right now I currently fill up my recycling bin every single week and throw away two trash bags full of trash a week as well. By December I hope to get that down to one load of recycling and one bag of trash every two weeks. Eventually I’d like to get it down to once a month or less.

I’m taking baby steps with my green journey, the same way I am with my debt free journey. And that is okay.

No Spend June

Today’s a special day, you’re getting two blog posts from me. I’m so excited about this news I just couldn’t help myself.

This morning I sat down with my husband and offered up the idea of a no spend month. A month where the only money coming out of our wallets is for gas, groceries, and bills.

No eating out. No trips to the ice-cream store or to the movies. No Target runs for mom (well, other than the once a month I have to go get Austen’s meds).

Nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch.

I know that getting ahold of our finances also requires getting ahold of our spending habits, and a no spend month will help us in that endeavor. It’s going to be tough, but I know when July 1st comes around and I see my bank statements, it will also be so rewarding.

Six Ideas For A Fun (And Free) Date Night

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“Never stop dating each other.” 

It was a piece of marriage advice I heard once while I was a teenager. I think during a sermon but I’m not 100% sure. It’s funny how you can remember a quote or a saying, but not take it to heart until much later. It’s definitely true about me and that sentence.

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate seven years of marriage. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it sure seems like a lot to us. Our marriage has not always been a walk in the park, and there have been times when both of us wanted to give up. But we’ve persisted and held strong. The other day I was thinking back on the last seven years, both good times and bad. I was trying to pick out what made the good years good, and the bad years bad. And while I truly believe it was several things, there was one common denominator during the good years: we dated.

During the good years we made a point to nurture our marriage and each other, and it showed.

It’s easy to stop dating your spouse. To make up excuses about why it’s not practical.

We don’t have a babysitter.

We work too much.

We don’t have enough money.

It’s so easy to come up with excuses, but let me tell you now there is no excuse to stop dating your spouse. Not even money. A date night doesn’t have to be an expensive extravaganza to be fulfilling, in fact some of my favorite date nights haven’t cost us a penny at all.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. A Walk in the Park: I love this one because it can be done with the kids in tow if the need arises. The kids are distracted by the playground and you can take some time for yourselves on a park bench. Just sit and talk, reconnect.
  2. Netflix and Chill: Put the kids to bed, grab a cup of tea or a bottle of wine and some popcorn and sit together to watch that new series you’ve been eyeing for weeks but can’t let the kids see. Grab a blanket and cuddle, you don’t even have to talk if you don’t want to.
  3. Game Night: You know that game of Scrabble that’s been sitting in the closet since college? Take it out and have fun! See who can come up with the longest or craziest word. Up the ante by declaring winner makes dinner and does the dishes tomorrow night.
  4. Volunteer Together: Volunteering cost 0.00 and it’s always fun to help others out, doing it with your spouse is even better.
  5. Budget Meeting: I can see the eyes rolling now, but hear me out. When you and your spouse are both on the same page, planning a budget, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and allowing yourself to just dream can be fun. I love sitting with a glass of wine and dreaming about what we will do when our debt is all gone.

May 2017 Debt Total

I have a confession to make. Until earlier this month I hadn’t totaled our debt up since last summer. That’s right, I didn’t know how much debt we had for 9 months.

Even when we stopped using our cards earlier this winter, I still couldn’t bring myself to total our debt. I knew it was high, but I was scared and ashamed to see just how high.

A few weeks ago I gathered up the courage and bit the bullet. I added it all up; and y’all, I almost fainted. It’s that bad. 147,557.02 bad to be precise. You having trouble reading that?

147,557.02

I told you it was bad.

But you know what, it’s okay. I mean the debt is okay, but seeing the number is. Seeing that total might have made me almost faint, but it also lit a fire under my butt. It’s time to get to serious work on this debt free journey.

 

And the winner is….

Congratulations Sara on winning two sets of unpaper towels from Creekside Kid! You should have gotten an email letting you know of your win. Please email me at meagan@themoogie.com by Sunday May 14th to claim your prize.

Thank you all for your participation, and I hope you have a fabulous day!

 

Meagan

The Lazy Mom’s DIY Dish Soap Recipe

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When I first started on our minimal waste journey one of the main things I knew I wanted to tackle was the mountain of cleaning products I use. My great-greatgrandmother didn’t have this many cleaning products, I told myself (she was the author of several Home Economics books back in the day) and she somehow survived. If she could so can I. So I started reading and researching different products I could make on my own using less, and more sustainable, ingredients.

Alas, one of the first things I ran out of was dish soap, and for some reason it was also the most intimidating. I mean this needs to clean the things my family eats off of each day. Our healthy quite literally was dependent on me getting this right.

But y’all, I’ve got to admit, I can be lazy. I was not interested in a massive undertaking involving melting, cooking, and stirring ingredients. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I have been a huge fan of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap for several years now, so I started looking for recipes that involved it, but then I made another discovery. Dr. Bronner had another product that I had somehow missed all these years-and it’s seriously changed my life, and my cleaning game.

So here it is, my DIY easy-peasy, lazy mom approved liquid dish soap. I hope you enjoy 🙂

 

1 Cup Dr. Bronner’s Organic Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner

1 Cup Distilled Water

1/4 Tbsp White Vinegar

10 Drops Plant Therapy’s KidSafe Germ Destroyer

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Zero Waste and Toiletries: Making the Switch

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When I first decided to jump on the zero waste, or minimal waste, bandwagon I wanted to start in the easiest place possible. Low and slow have been my motto, and after analyzing my household usage I decided that the bathroom was it.

I decided this for once simple reason: I was already out of almost everything in my bathroom so I could simply replace it all in one fell swoop. It was fast, it was easy, and it was actually relatively painless. In fact, the only things that we continue that still create trash are toilet paper and my husbands toothpaste. Even though his shampoo and conditioner are still in bottles, as soon as those are done we plan to head on over to the Zero Market with the hopes that they have liquid shampoo and conditioner that we can refill our bottles with.

I’ve honestly been very excited about how easy the switch has been, and how little my husband has complained about it.

Interested in seeing exactly what I use? Well wait no further…

I switched out both our adult and child sized toothbrushes to bamboo alternatives. I love this brand because literally everything about the toothbrush, from the bristles to the packaging, are all 100% biodegradable. No more toothbrush waste! My toothpaste is a homemade recipe I’ve been trying out that includes activated charcoal as a whitening agent. I’m still 100% how I feel about it, and will post the recipe once I perfect it.

For my hair I went to Lush to check out some of their zero waste options, the New Shampoo Bar and Big Solid Conditioner had me a little nervous at first, I’m not going to lie. But they have been amazing for my hair so far. In fact, I have been able to go longer in between washes than I ever have in my life, and my hair feels soft and healthy. I’ve tripled down and also started using a solid soap bar as well instead of liquid body wash. Lush’s Honey I Washed the Kids Soap Bar is tough enough for the adults in our home, while gentle enough for the kids.

Like with my shampoo and conditioner, I wanted to try out some zero waste options for my face as well. Lush’s Movis Face Soap and Full of Grace Solid Moisturizer have been great choices. The Movis Face Soap is tough enough to take off most of my makeup, while also gently exfoliating my skin, and the Full of Grace Moisturizer feels light on my skin while doing a good job at protecting it from the dry Colorado climate.

When my makeup is super tricky to get off I reach for a normal kitchen staple in coconut oil, seriously nothing has done a better job at getting of my water proof eyeliner! I then reach for an alcohol free witch hazel as a toner, although neither of these products are fully zero waste I can reuse the coconut oil bottle in my pantry, and the witch hazel bottle is recyclable in my city.

Last but not least comes my deodorant. Aluminum based antiperspirants are the pits, studies show they are horrible for you, but every time I’ve tried to move towards a more natural option I’ve been left smelling like a barnyard. I have to admit I didn’t hold out much hope for Lush’s T’eo Deodorant, a solid deodorant bar that is again zero waste, but I have been more than pleasantly surprised. It smells like sweet lemons and lasts all day long. Please remember though, this is not an antiperspirant, so you will sweat. But sweating is actually good for you, so that’s okay with me.

The awesome thing about Lush is they also offer reusable tins to hold your products in. So when you buy from a Lush store you do not even have to use any packaging to purchase your products.

There is only one thing in my bathroom that has not yet been switched out, and that is my razors. I am down o my last disposable product, and my next purchase will be a good quality safety razor. I have to admit, I am scared to death go. Stay tuned for an update on how that turns out!

Zero Waste Paper Product Alternatives | GIVEAWAY!

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Hello everyone!

I am so excited to be hosting this giveaway, seriously Creekside Kid’s products have made it so easy for me to begin switching to a minimal waste lifestyle and I love being able to share that with you. Check out the contest rules below and don’t forget there is more than one way to enter! The winner will be announced Wednesday May 10th!

Meagan

Products Featured:

Unpaper Towels

Facial Rounds

Baby Wipes

Contest Rules:

Open only to contestants in the United States.

The only mandatory entry is that you MUST subscribe to my newsletter.

Additional entries can be obtained through following me on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as commenting on this post.

Contest powered by Rewards Fuel

Blow Money – The Budget Category You Should Not Be Slacking On

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Were you the person creating your budget and wondering if blow money was really something you could justify? Have you ever found yourself in the midst of your debt free journey and found yourself thinking, “well I’m doing so great now, if I gave up my blow money I could put all that towards my snowball and get done with my debt x amount of times faster?”

Don’t do it!

I was you, and it was a huge mistake, seriously.

While blow money might seem like an easy thing to cut in order to reach your goals faster, in my experience it actually did the opposite.

That’s because while blow money also provides you a little bit of freedom, it also provides you with structure. The structure of having a set amount of money you can spend on you is often a huge motivator in continuing your journey.

It allows you to get that Venti Starbucks Caramel Mochiato you’ve been craving.

It allows you to buy that fancy CC Cream that’s the only thing you like on your skin.

It allows you to take the kids to grab a snowcone as a treat on a hot summers day.

It allows you to say yes to the new Melissa & Doug Puzzle your kids have been drooling over.

And it allows you to do it all guilt free.

Let me tell you a secret: taking away your blow money is not going to stop you from spending money on yourself. All it does is take away the structure, the boundaries, and the that it’s line in the budget creates. Taking it away is a breeding ground for guilt, and it’s not a fun way to live.

So allow yourself a little bit of freedom, your conscience and your wallet will thank you. I promise.