There comes a time when every parent wants to infuse their child’s day with a little excitement. On these days, the park, DVDs, and crafts seem so blah.
You consider a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, but you don’t have the money, time or energy for a whole afternoon with the Chuckster.
You can enjoy Chuck E. Cheese (or your family’s fun spot) without the huge time commitment or busting the family budget. It’s all a matter of resetting your child’s expectations.
The first step is to get your kids to understand that this is a fun spree, not a fun day.
You might say something like, “Kids, I want to do something special for you today. We don’t have a lot of time. If you think you can manage it, we’ll go to [enter fun place] for 30 minutes. Let’s see how much fun we can have in that amount of time. Are you up for it?”
Chances are you will get an ecstatic ‘Yes’ to that last question, even if your child falters later.
Older kids may question the 30-minute limitation, in which case you can get as candid as you find appropriate. Because mommy is exhausted but still wanted you to have a fun activity today. Because dad’s head will explode if he has to endure three hours of skee-ball.
Now that the kids have consented to a fun spree, you can use any combination of techniques to shave off time and money. Here are some ideas:
Check the Chuck E. Cheese website for money saving coupons.
Go in as soon as the place opens.
Purchase tokens ahead of time. Long lines or malfunctioning token machines can stall your visit. Drop by and pick up tokens in advance.
Set a budget or amount of tokens per child.
Play non-ticket games only. Direct your kids to the non-ticket games and you can cut hours from your visit. If they do play ticket-producing games, plan to use the tickets to get a prize on another visit.
Skip the food. Plan to eat before or after your visit. Help your kids fight pizza-itis by packing a fun snack for the ride home.
Give the kids a 10-minutes left warning.
Save extra tokens for the next visit. There is no rule that you have to spend every last one.
Take pictures of the kids in action. This will help remind them just how much fun they can have in a half hour.
Now it’s time to head home and assess the visit. Did the kids have fun? Did you stay within budget? Were there time wasters that you will avoid next time?
Your family might find that a short visit to a fun spot can be quite satisfying.
To my readers: What are your tips for family fun in a flash? Where do your kids like to let loose? Has your child ever spent too much money in an attempt to win a prize?
Disclaimer: Obviously, this is not a sponsored post. Chuck E. wants to hang out with your family for as long as possible. And I don’t blame him. You’re fabulous.