When you become a stay-at-home mom, your options for de-stressing become a bit more limited. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV with a glass of wine and the latest George Clooney flick, you find yourself watching Sesame Street, surrounded by juice boxes and Goldfish crackers. But being a full time mom and trying to save some money (who isn’t these days?!) doesn’t mean you’re resigned to reading the backs of cereal boxes for entertainment and rejuvenation. Check out these accessible options that bring good bang for the buck.
Join a Local YMCA
The YMCA gets a bad rap from people who think it’s just a half-way house or a gym with old, broken down equipment. The Y’s mission is actually pretty cool: to bring the awesome benefits of mind-body health to everyone in the community, including you, the cash-strapped mom. You might think a membership rate of $40-60 a month is pretty high for a gym, but most Y’s come with child care, dozens of classes from Zumba to yoga, a pool, and a jacuzzi—a real value, if you take the time to find the programs and activities that are fun for you.
Learn a New Skill
Most people live in close distance to a community college or university extension, two types of schools that offer interesting continuing education classes. Bring a friend along and learn how to cook a new cuisine, make pottery, or do graphic design. At $120-200 for 6-10 weeks, these classes are a good way to get out of the house, take a breather, and learn something new in the process, at the same price that you would pay for a weekly movie and snacks or a restaurant meal.
Hike a Trail
It’s nice to have a relaxing activity that you can turn to, even when you’ve got the kids in tow. Load them up in the car or jump on the bus, and ride out to your local regional or state park. For a few dollars entry fee you can get a little exercise while being relaxed by the beautiful, quiet scenery. Bring a kite, frisbee, or badminton set along, in case your kids need more fast-paced entertainment.
Start a Weekly Culture Club
What’s a culture club? It’s like a book club, but not restricted to discussions about one specific book, and with an added element of sharing. Get some friends and friends of friends together, and tell them to bring along a movie, CD, book, DVD, article, or another cultural goodie that they particularly enjoy. The weekly meetings are like a low-key swap, where you can exchange some of the favorite media in your life with someone else. At the next meeting, spend some time chatting with the item’s original owner about the film, story, etc., and return their item. It’s great because it can be a money saver—instead of blowing money on Itunes or Amazon, you get some new, free entertainment each week. Plus, the meetings bring a fun social element, and let you bond with friends.
Go On A Winery or Brewery Tour
One of the most stifling things about being a full time mom can be feeling like you never get to do “adult” things, because you’ve gotta entertain your kids and keep an eye on the budget. While a weekend spa getaway or a three-course meal on the town might not be reasonable to you, a winery or brewery tour can be a fun alternative. Find a sitter for a few hours, and grab your spouse, partner, or some friends and take a local tour. These tours are usually free or very cheap, and they come with free wine or beer samples along the way. Spend some time assessing the bouquet in a local wine, and you’ll be feeling sophisticated and adult again, without wasting your hard earned cash.