The Six-Dollar Fun Day

One of the unfortunate victims of the current depression is our children. Even if we have more time for them because of reduction in our work hours or lay-offs, we often don’t do things with them because o f finances. Our outing on Monday with my best friend though illustrates that fun does not have to cost that much. We spent the whole day at the beach for $6, plus gas and the food I already had at home that we packed as a picnic.

My best friend goes for a slide
My best friend goes for a slide

Since my best friend and I do not get to spend very much time together due to the distance, we have gotten together twice during this trip. Of course, the other barrier we face is demographics. What does a mother with two young children in tow and a single woman find to do together? So far we have gone to the park, where my friend got into the swing of things by sliding down the slide, as well as our day at the beach. It has been great fun both times and allowed us to talk while the children played and had fun.

So on Monday, I packed a bag with some food things that were already around the house: juice boxes, chips, lunchables and fruit as well as bottles of water and iced tea. Of course, I threw in the sunscreen and towels as well as the buckets and shovels (pail and spades). The biggest problem turned out to be carrying that bag (one of the bags for life that I bought from Wal-Mart) across the sand. I discovered that the distance from the parking to the water at Santa Monica beach is substantial. But I managed to drag my collection along with two young children carrying their own loads of beach balls and other toys to a good spot near water’s edge.

My friend was quite amazed that I had thought of everything. Being a single woman, she admitted that her excursions to the beach were likely to be a quick stop for a walk along the boardwalk if she happened to be near it. But she truly appreciated the wipes I had remembered to add to our collection when the seagull pooped all over her. That is absolutely a true story.

One of our lovely sand castles
One of our lovely sand castles

The children and I had a wonderful time building not one but two sand castles. My seven year old son said that we had to make two so that they could battle one another like the old movies. My three year old daughter just enjoyed the experience, period. They romped in the cold of the Pacific Ocean until my daughter’s lips were blue and her teeth chattered. I had to make her come out and warm herself in the sun several times.

Oh, where does the six dollars come in you might wonder? That was the cost of parking in Santa Monica. But not even that was so bad, because that was the daily fee. So when my friend had to leave briefly for a consultation with a doctor, she was able to return without paying another fee.

Overall, it was an excellent and cheap excursion, but then so have most of mine been during this trip. We have visited several parks, gone to several of my son’s baseball games, and enjoyed ourselves on a tight budget. The ideas of things to do with children that cost very little or nothing at all is substantial. I am hoping to do another outing with a different friend later this week as well.

So the next time you have some free time and the sun is shining think about all the wonderful things you can do for little or no money. Kids don’t have to be expensive. They need our time and love far more than the things we buy them.

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