This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and
works as a financial advisorretired at 34. He is married, has three kids. Robert and his wife then plan to return to school and become teachers, eventually living and working overseas.
One of my favourite places in the community is the library. Especially during the winter, we sometimes go to the library just to get out of the house. While there, we read stories, play on the computer (they have a kids station with “educational” games), choose books and DVDs to take home and sometimes participate in story time or a drop-in program. The library is paid for mostly by city taxes, and we pay $12 per year for our library card, which I consider to be a bargain.
This winter, we have spent a lot of time at the YMCA. An adult membership is free for volunteers, and a child membership is only an additional $3 (here in Calgary). That’s really reasonable for all the time we spend with my daughter at drop-in preschool gym and with all the kids in the swimming pool. I love swimming, so I do swimming lessons for the kids myself. We also pay for sports programs for the boys, to help them develop other skills and interests.
In the summer, we spend a lot of time at the park. We have a playground beside our house (part of the reason for choosing our house), where the children swing, climb and slide, and make friends in the neighbourhood. It’s a good way to be social and stay active. We sometimes travel to other parks, for a change of scenery and to make new friends. We also ride bikes through the pathways in our neighbourhood.
Outdoor activities are a great way to take advantage of good weather in the summer. One of the most popular activities we tried last summer was floating down the river (the Bow passes near our house, and has many parks bordering it) on a summer afternoon. The grandparents also enjoy going to the Rocky Mountains near Banff with us, whether for a picnic near a pond or an easy hike beside a lake or to a waterfall. If we enter the national park, we need a park pass, which is reasonably priced and protects our parks.
My parents had a great idea a couple years ago: they wanted to buy our family a season’s pass that we could use again and again, that would be fun for the kids. Last year, they bought us a pass to the local amusement park (modest-sized, but plenty big for the kids). We went once or twice a week all summer long, and it was great fun. It’s nice to do something outdoors and out of the ordinary, and it was generous of my parents to pay for it.
The wackiest place that we’ve taken our kids, just to get out of the house, is the pet store. It’s no substitute for the zoo, but there are plenty of cute animals. We’ve even asked and been allowed to hold a snake. Where do you take your kids for a low-cost, high adventure, family outing?