One Mom’s Brilliant Idea

You are looking at a masterpiece. I wish I could take credit for this, but this is my friend Lisa’s wonderful idea, which she so graciously shared with us during our MOMS Club Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. Lisa is a mom of four boys, three of whom are triplets. Ahem. Triplet BOYS, people! With that kind of energy in the household, organization is not optional, it is required. She keeps a Family Activity Binder, and get this — she has one for every season! It is jammed-packed with calendars, flyers for free local events, brochures for local inexpensive attractions, and ideas for local day trips and other activities. When the family is faced with a rainy day, or she starts to hear, “Mom, I’m bored….”, Lisa goes to the binder and looks up all the local activities going on that day. It’s a serious sanity-saver, and since it’s full of free or inexpensive activities, it won’t break the family budget, either! 

Lisa inspired several of us to start our own Family Activity Binders, and here are some ideas of things to include so you can too:
  1. Free MoviesRegal Cinemas, AMC, and several other theaters offer Family Film Festivals featuring free or very low-cost admission to movies during the summer months. Days and times may vary, so check with your local movie theater.  
  2. Free Building WorkshopsLowe’s and The Home Depot offer terrific free workshops for kids. The kids each get a kid-sized apron, and a great project to make and take home with them.
  3. Free Craft WorkshopsMichael’s features lots of free craft workshops for kids. Check your local store for days and times.
  4. Free Story TimePottery Barn Kids, Barnes & Noble, and your local public library may offer free story time for kids. Check your local stores for event times and dates.
  5. Kids Bowl Free — Find out if your local bowling alley participates in the Kids Bowl Free program during summer months. This is great for those rainy days!
  6. Local Zoos or Aquariums — Local zoos and aquariums may offer special events for kids, or have discounted admission on certain days. Pick up a calendar of events for more information.
  7. Local Museums & Science Centers — Another educational experience, local museums and science centers may offer discounted admission after a certain time of day, or have days when admission is free. 
  8. Local Community Center — Many local community centers feature free classes, movies, concerts, or other summer events. Be sure to check with your local community center to see what they offer.
  9. Vacation Bible School — Check with your local churches, and you may find some that offer Vacation Bible School for free. 
  10. Summer Camp Brochures — You could also include any brochures for local summer camps your child may be interested in. Many times you can get a discount by registering early!
When you come across flyers for any free family-friendly events this summer, pick them up and put them in your binder. A little planning could go a very long way.
I would love to hear about what you keep (or plan to keep) in your Family Activity Binder. Leave a comment and share your ideas with us!


  1. I love this idea!! Would actuall like to see more photos of the different tabs of her binder…I’m a binder/paper nut!!! Thanks for the bowling tip…my kids will love that!!!

  2. sunnymama says

    It is a brilliant idea. I am definitely going to put one of these together because I can see the potential for it’s usefulness! We are lucky enough to have a dozen free museums in our town and I have a leaflet listing the opening times stuck on our kitchen cupboard door so that can go in the binder first. Thanks for sharing Lisa’s masterpiece 🙂

  3. Jenny Henny says

    I’ve already started my summer binder! I have the blank calendars printed out, and I’m ready to go!

  4. Valerie says

    @ Carla — I think participating bowling alleys have 2 free games for kids every day all summer long, so it is definitely worth checking out!

    @ sunnymama — A dozen free museums!! How fabulous! I’m sure you’ll find lots of free events once you start collecting them all and putting them together in one place. 🙂 Sunny Boy is sure to have a fun summer!!

    @ Jenny Henny — I need to get crackin’! The calendars are a good first step. I can’t wait to compare notes with you on this one!

  5. Val in the Rose Garden says

    I agree Valerie… that is BRILLANT! I have a ‘stuff to do’ section in my household notebook, but it isn’t organized very well and so I don’t look at it very often. I will be adding that section in.


  6. aprilfoolwed says

    FANTASTIC! I love it. Just this morning (in the shower – where we all do our best thinking) I started to wonder just how I was going to keep all 3 kids happy this summer.

    I have been doing childcare for the past 3 years, and our days had to happen at home because of allthe kids here. No going out unless it was a night or weekend (and that’s not when most of these activities happen).

    I am so happy to be staying home with JUST my own kids this summer – happy to be a SAHM again. But I was sort of freaking out about how to keep everyone entertained all day.

    I think I need to start a binder today!

  7. @ Val in the Rose Garden — I had something similar, but this takes the “what to do” section of the household notebook to a whole other level! I’m putting mine together this afternoon, and Emily is thrilled to help out with it. I bet your kiddos will enjoy putting one together with you!

    @ aprilfoolwed — You will really enjoy the freedom this summer, and having something like this can be a real help. I don’t know how I made it through the summers before! 🙂

  8. Melissa @ A Child at Play says

    Great idea! I’m always looking for good ideas to keep my kids busy in the summer.

  9. Thanks for sharing this! I have all this information….scattered around in all sorts of places. The binder idea is perfect!

  10. That is a great idea.

    Thanks for sharing with Friday Showcase!!!

  11. littlebear says

    Thats a great idea! I tried to keep a binder, but I’m just not organized enough, so I end up having to re-look-up the information on the internet every single week! For the record, is a great website that has a calendar with all of the kid-friendly events going on in the metro area of each city on a daily basis.

  12. Pink & Green Mama says

    Love this and I have a serious binder addiction going — looks like I’m going to have to start a new one. I actually told my hubby he could get me some more binders for mother’s day!! LOL : )

  13. ONe PiNK FiSH says

    Wow! Simply wonderful. I wish you lived close by so we could meet. It sounds like your Moms Club is perfect. I have yet to fond a group of moms to get together with. Most people get together during the week, so when you are a working mom… well, not as many options.

    Have a happy mothers day.

  14. Sunnymommie says

    I love your ideas!!! to keep me busy with kids. yeah I would love to see all your tabs ideas.. thanks for ideas! wow!

  15. If you have Bank of America check this out:

    On the first weekend of the month you can go to certain museums for free with your debit card.


  16. This is an awesome idea!! Thanks for sharing with us!

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