Since I stay at home with my son I like to take him out on a number of different adventures each week. On Monday we typically hit the library for story time. This event is free and it’s actually one of my favorites. The library is just a few minutes from our house and there are two sessions with a small fifteen minute break in between. The librarians do a great job of reading and getting the kids to move around.

Most days we walk down to the school in our neighborhood or the nearby church so my son can run around the playground and release pent up energy. If I’m not in the mood for a walk we simply play out in the backyard with a bunch of hand-me-down toys including his favorite toy lawn mower, a plastic jeep, a play house and a koala climber.

Other days we head out in search of new adventures. A local coffee shop features musical performances for children once a week. While the show is technically free a $5 donation is suggested. The performers don’t get paid without donations, so it’s hard to listen to the music and not drop money in the basket.

Over the past three weeks we’ve visited a garden center featuring hundreds of butterflies for $6, a miniature train park with $1.75 rides, an aviation museum with a $4 entrance fee and the national zoo where it cost $22 to park for three hours. I also bought a $99 membership to a local pool for the month of August.

I typically pack a lunch before heading out on one of our little excursions so we don’t pay for food and drinks, but the cost of activities and gas will certainly add up over time. I don’t mind paying for these types of activities as my son really enjoys them and I look forward to taking him new places and quite frankly just getting out of the house for awhile.

Many of these activities are only available in the summertime, so I figure we should take advantage of as many of them as we can. Luckily we live very close to Washington, DC so once the warmer outdoor activities end I can also take my son to the Smithsonian museums, which all have free admission. It’s not always easy to find parking and the metro can be quite expensive, but it’s always fun to go into the city.

Of course, we also try to invite a playmate over once a week. This is a great way to introduce my son to other children without spending any money.

The little guy won’t start preschool for another year. He has an October birthday and won’t be eligible for any of the schools in our area until he turns three. At that point he’ll have to start in the two year old class, which I’m not entirely happy about, but I suppose it will be my first glimpse of what it’s like to be one of the oldest children. He’ll be one month shy of three by that time. The preschool I’m most interested in costs $180 for two, one and a half hour classes a week. If I haven’t returned to work by then I would like to continue our weekly excursions. A few dollars here and there are completely worth the joy and excitement I see on my son’s face when a butterfly lands on his finger or he gets to climb inside a real airplane.