Cheap And Easy Places To Take Your Kids


The family vacation is important. It’s good to get away as a family to rest and make new memories. But you can only take so many family vacations in a year. Well, unless you happen to be an elected federal official but that’s for another post. What about the rest of us? Are there any places for normal parents to take their kids on a random Tuesday in the middle of July?

You bet! And there are added benefits to these destinations. Along with being cheap and easy, they just might help your kids along in their process of growing into adulthood.

1. The Backyard

I’ll never forget the time when my mother threw me out of the house. I was probably six-years-old and I was most definitely devastated. My mom didn’t care. Well, she cared. That was her whole reason for throwing me out. She just didn’t care that I was devastated.

I was spending too much time inside. And by inside, I mean following my mother around everywhere she went. Maybe she needed her space. Maybe she was thinking of my future. I don’t care. I’m just really glad that my mom threw me out of the house with very simple instructions.

“Stay outside until I tell you to come in. And get dirty. You’re a boy. It’s what your supposed to do.”

This parenting technique has fallen out of style. Progressives tell us that boys should never be told that, gasp!, there is a difference between the sexes. Safety Nazis remind us of all of the toxins that are in our mud. The self-esteem gurus preach a gospel of affirmation at all costs.

And just look at all the wonderful places these new and improved parenting techniques have taken us.

They’ve left us with a generation of kids with clean fingernails, confusion about their sexuality and fear about all of the terrible things that might happen to them.

Parents who care about the long term well-being of their children will take them on a trip outside, drop them off and go back inside without them. The kids will be fine. If you don’t trust me, just check in on them from afar every so often. That’s why the kitchen window was invented. And remember this, the broken bones, twisted ankles and scraped knees that may accompany your child’s otherwise unaccompanied trip to the backyard are not near as bad for him as the smooth skin that comes from an entire childhood spent in front of a television.

2. The Bathroom

Every kid needs to be taken to the bathroom. And I don’t just mean when nature calls. I mean taken to the bathroom. As in, “If you don’t straighten up, we’re going to the bathroom.”

There aren’t enough trips to the bathroom these days. We’ve all been in a restaurant with our significant other, finally able to enjoy a quiet meal together that neither one of us had to cook. Everything is perfect. The service is friendly and prompt. The food is delicious. And they even let you throw your peanut shells on the floor. You know, one of those classy places.

But  there’s one problem. The kid sitting behind you can’t stay quiet. He’s screaming like he just sliced his finger open with that dull knife they bring out with the complimentary bread. Nothing his parents/handlers try seems to work. Realizing this, his parents/handlers give up. This would all be quite understandable if the upset child were 6-months-old. But this kid is ten.

While said parents/handlers enjoy their meal in relative comfort, as if this drama is no different from any other night of the week for them, you are left with a wasted date, a to-go bag and peanut shells in your hair.

All of this would have been solved with a quick trip to the bathroom. Parents who love their kids, as well as their fellow restaurant patrons, will care enough to privately and sternly correct their child in the restroom.

We didn’t do many family vacations when I was a kid. They didn’t usually fit into my single mother’s budget. But there was always time for those cheap and easy trips that helped to shape me.

One Friday night my mother was helping to serve food at our church. A kid a few years older than me walked in to tell a joke to all of the nice church ladies in the kitchen. It was a  dirty joke. Filthy is probably a better description. Eddie Murphy would have blushed. The kid’s mother asked him where he heard that joke from. The kid said my name. He wasn’t lying.

My mother took me to the bathroom.

I never told that joke again.