By Lisa Abai.
Spring break had sadly ended and as I was turning my kitchen over after Pesach, I couldn’t help but think of our next vacation because I really didn’t want this one to end. I was happily looking forward to having more fun with my kids. You see, as a school teacher, my year is divided by winter break, spring break, and the coveted months of summer vacation.
Now that I am married and the proud mother of two active boys, summertime has taken on a new meaning, far different from my single days. These months now have a double agenda: Figure out a way to entertain my children and save money to pay for their Jewish day school tuition. For my family this has meant enrolling my eight and seven year old boys into… “Mommy Camp!”
I’ve been running Mommy Camp for the past four years. I’m the camp director, counselor, bus driver, field trip coordinator, cook and nurse. It’s a grand job.
Other moms have called me anything from brave to downright insane. I think I must be a little bit of both. I have to be honest….I pray a lot. And yet, Baruch Hashem, I’ve found some fun and inexpensive ways to enjoy my summer without becoming a member of the local looney bin.
Sky High indoor trampoline park has been amazing for our family. They offer an affordable summer pass that is valid from the beginning of June until the end of August. The boys have unlimited jumping time everyday of the week. They offer an air conditioned arena that is desperately needed during the hot Valley summer days when nobody wants to be at the park. Sky High is great for me too. I love that they have a quiet parent lounge where I can watch my kids play on a big screen. Their free wifi access has allowed me to listen to hours of Torah classes that I access on LearnTorah.com. So many relevant topics such as parenting, emunah, marriage, mashiach, parsha, etc. and all for free! Rabbi Joey Haber is one of the best speakers.
Pinz Bowling Center offers two free bowling games per child during the summer on a weekly basis. I just had to register online and they send me the daily coupons. My kids have a great time here too.
When we’re not jumping or bowling, we’re getting affordable swim lessons at Valley Community College. The instructors have worked wonders with my boys.
Free Thursdays at the Skirball Cultural Center has also been a find. The kids play at the Noah’s Ark interactive exhibit and then spend the afternoon in the art studio turning recycled materials into masterpieces.
Other fun field trips include going on the rides at Santa Monica Pier (discounted for AAA members), riding bikes at the beach, the occasional splurge at a restaurant and spending the day at the Orange County Fair.
The Orange County Fair has a low admission rate and offers kids rides, circus shows, petting zoos, pony rides, indoor play areas, magic shows, and lots of shopping for the moms. The public library is a fabulous free resource as is the science museum in downtown Los Angeles.
Playdates with friends and cousins have helped maintain my sanity. They are also cherished memories I’m sure my kids will treasure one day. Not to mention the joy of spending time with mommy when she is not stressed from a hard day of work.
I know the day will come soon when my kids won’t want to spend their summer with Mom. The idea is both sad and liberating at the same time. Watching my babies learn to swim, dive, tie shoelaces and ride a bike has been a true blessing. “Mom,” my eight year old said secretively the other night, “I’m going to teach you how to play basketball this summer!” So now, I can add “ref” to my job description!
For more information on summer events contact Valley College Swimming, lavalley.augusoft.net, Pinz Bowling at http://www.pinzbowlingcenter.com, Sky High at http://www.jumpskyhigh.com, Orange County Fair at http://www.ocfair.com, Skirball at http://www.skirball.org, Santa Monica Pier at santamonicapier.or