5 Ways To Adventure With (small) Kids When You’re On A Budget | Chino Hills State Park Review

Let’s be real for a second, who isn’t on a budget?! Everyone I talk to is either looking for a side gig or trying to find ways to save money. All for different reasons, maybe they wanna buy a house, kick that student loan debt or just don’t have a ton of extra money to spend. My point here is that having kids is fun & we want our kids to have the best kinda memories, but that shouldn’t have to cost us our bank accounts and our sanity, can I get an amen?! Why did I mention sanity? Because keeping my kiddos happy + entertained can almost feel like I have 5 jobs in addition to the other 50 motherhood has given me (homeschooler, cook, coach, etc). Yes, all jobs I chose, but work nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong, I’m luuuuuuuving it, but it’s probably because our schedules are empty + I’ve accepted grace in exchange for perfection. It’s a sweet way to live y’all.

If you’re reading this article & you have kids, (or are an aunt, grandma, cousin, nanny, etc lol!) drop a comment (like it’s hot) in the comments below on your best + easiest adventure hack that’s budget friendly.

All the mamas will thank you for it!

If you’re looking for the most comfy & transitional shirt to adventure and cook dinner in, look no further! I’ve got a whole shop of the perfect t-shirts to add to your #momiform!

Let’s talk about empty schedules for a hot minute; we’re homesvhoolers + we have standards + attendance we have to abide by, so we do have responsibilities. In order to achieve those, we pretty much have to clear our schedules from everything else. For example we chose to adventure solo this year instead of enroll in every organized sport + field trip available. We’ve boarded that train before + it’s hard. If you function best that way, that’s amazing! I feel bad that I put my then 2 yo through the trenches of having to stay quiet during tours, etc.

My kids are learning + taking in the wonderful world around them, they probably won’t remember most of what we did together before the age of 7. I’m also confident self-control is developed + cannot be forced. Just ask my 5 year old who spent most of his 2 year old life in time out + still has ‘melt-downs’ from time to time. Heck, I still have melt-downs. Maybe I’ll achieve maturity @ 40, but who’s keeping track anyway. Sigh. Adventuring + field trips can be budget friendly, age-appropriate + fun! I’m sharing 5 ways to adventure, with small kiddos, on a budget!

  1. Ask around.

Google is an amazing resource but mamas have more information, from experience, than I could ever find on google.

Are you apart of mom or homeschooling Facebook groups? Find one that’s local to you + ask. You’ll get a wealth of information on free events in your area.

A mom friend actually told me about Chino Hills State Park.

If you’re not apart of FB groups that are local, put it out to your friends + family. I ask things like, ‘free places to adventure that are safe for small kids?’.

We’ve found out about free, local water parks, free nature centers, etc.

Like I mentioned before, most people are trying to save money where they can & word of mouth is my favorite kinda marketing.

It’s how we found Mary Vagle Nature Center. They will open up the center for the kiddos if you call before you go & they’ll give the kids a private tour & maybe even let them touch you the reptiles. Super cool, right?!

I also suggest searching ‘nature center current location’, or ‘free museum’ or call your local library + ask what free events they have for small kids. You’d be surprised @ all of the happenings in your city!

2. Adventure local.

Gas can sometimes be an added cost you weren’t considering for adventuring. We always try to stay local because it can get pricey + be hard on our older car to travel far, especially in summer. So staying close helps us get super familiar with our area + keeps my mama heart at ease knowing we’re close to home. Because accidents happen & although they’re not the same as when I had small(we) kids, if a kid is having an over-emotional day or an accident happens, we won’t be dreading a hard + long car ride home.

2. Have the kids use their money for an extra fun adventure.

OR admission to the state park. In this case it was $5. The park workers weren’t @ the window but they had a box you could leave the $ in & take a ticket for your window. There was a park worker driving around the park, so definitely pay, lol! Also, it teaches the kiddos integrity.

I think it’s important the kids know that everything has a cost; even if it’s not monetary! Helping them understand this, right gives them ownership + responsibility of the adventure & reminds me of its value too!!

I say pick a few places, show the kiddos pics on the internet, let them choose + make it a lesson in money + planning. I like to call + see if we can pickup coupons somewhere or if they’re offering an incentive if you go during the week, etc. This is a great way to get the kiddos to think outside of the box when it comes to event planning + money.

3. Pack your own snacks + drink lots of water.

When we forget water + have to buy it on the go, we usually spend 2 to 3 xs more on water than if we’d filled up our own water jug. So this is mostly a reminder for myself, to pack water + drink it. I’m usually the first one who forgets how important taking care of kiddos x water intake is!

4. Simple is okay.

I over complicate pretty much everything + even feel like this blog post could be a little more helpful than what it is, but I’m posting it anyway ‘cause simple is okay!

I called + asked the park rangers if there was a playground inside. The answer was no.

I worried the kids wouldn’t have fun.

I hit a sign that said ‘one way road’ + turned around.

No way I was gonna drive down a 1-way road!

I then drove into a local housing community + found a man working in his garage. I asked him if there was another way in (less scary) + if taking 3 small kiddos into the park was okay. The answer was ‘use your common sense + watch for rattle snakes. That was the only way in.’.

Fear had me overcomplicating it.

But it was an adventure, therefore new to all of us. Without the slight fear, what fun would it be anyway!

Long story short, the windy road was empty + actually not scary at all. The kiddos found sticks, rocks + lizards. We made no contact with rattlesnakes but my 7 yo said she heard them lurking in the grass. We’ll never know if that’s what she heard lol! But it was fun to wonder! They ran from bees + ooooooooo’d+ aaaahhhd @ the empty, brown hills that were once full of a super bloom. The weather was perfect. They found a stage to climb up + jump off of. Climb up + jump off of + repeated this for what felt like forever.

There were clean restrooms + so many picturesque moments.

Fun was in the new. Fun was in the simple. It was actually rest from the school year, from the internet monster, from all of the overstimulation of fear + overcomplicating everything.

In the words of my daughter, ‘This was the best park ever!’.

It was a great experience overall!

Pick a theme! Do y’all like to walk? Maybe find a new walking path.

Like to hike? My area is an oasis of hiking trails that are kid friendly + FREE!

Discovering new parks could make your littles feel like tourists in their own backyard. I know it does for me!! I’m not one to feel like a strong + courageous person but I’m learning to trust God. Adventuring makes me feel strong + courageous. On a really hot day, they could search for water parks in the area, on the computer or by calling a friend/family member & asking if they know of a place to play in the water.

Does your kiddos like restaurants? In-N-Out gives tours + maybe the local bakery will as well if you call?

My daughter loves art + I hope to find some free museum days or find a local spot she can discover new ways to do art, this summer!

5. Ask for scholarships.

Does your kiddo love to cook + you want to really get a structured class into your summer schedule? Search around, call + ask if they have scholoship opportunities.

Or your daughter’s friends are all going to their local church’s vacation Bible school + you don’t have those extra funds to spare?! I get it, I’m right there with you! Call the church, they want your kids there & are usually willing to donate a spot.

I’m relatively new to motherhood, homeschooling, strict budgets + adventure + I’m confident I’m never gonna have it all figured out. But the journey is beautiful, to say the least. Hard, but beauty in the simplicity of it all, which is usually empty schedules, lots of rocks, sticks, hugs, kisses + SNACKS on snacks. On snacks.

ps. I love wearing this graphic t-shirt from our shop when I explore with my littles. It reminds me that this season is fleeting & babies just don’t keep. So embrace let’s embrace it mama!

Chino Hills State park. Admission to the park was $5 & you were free to roam + discover whatever it had to offer. Great place to adventure free of the internet monster. Full of hiking trails, lizards, bees + simple fun!

Chino Hills State park. Admission to the park was $5 & you were free to roam + discover whatever it had to offer. Great place to adventure free of the internet monster. Full of hiking trails, lizards, bees + simple fun!

adventuring with small kids.jpeg
Chino hills stare park
Simple activities for small kids