The frugal(ish) sleepover weekend

The weekend my eight-year-old has been anticipating with great, great excitement has come and gone — and I must say, I feel pretty warm and fuzzy, and fiscally upright about it. Bronwyn's best friend stayed at our place from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening.

The weekend my eight-year-old has been anticipating with great, great excitement has come and gone — and I must say, I feel pretty warm and fuzzy, and fiscally upright about it.

Bronwyn’s best friend stayed at our place from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening.

Those of you who are sleepover veterans may be saying, “What’s the big deal?” But I’m still new-ish to sleepovers. Bronwyn’s only had sleepovers with Rebecca, and they’ve been few and far between because Rebecca’s parents are just as busy as we are. (Actually, probably more so.) When we do host a sleepover, I always feel like I have to provide tons and tons of entertainment, well above what I’d do with my own kids on a weekend. I also worry that my food isn’t fun enough or yummy enough. So much to think about! So much to plan!

Not to mention: So little time. I knew Bronwyn and I would return from ballet around 3 pm. Rebecca had swimming until 3:30, and would be at our house around 4. During that one-hour interval, I’d need to vacuum up the copious amounts of dog hair (can only IMAGINE how much hair comes off of a long-haired dog…), do some laundry and clean up the kitchen. Would I feel like cooking for the gang? “Maybe we should just order pizza,” I said to Matt, who readily agreed. Still, I posed the question on Twitter — should we have homemade pizza, or order in — and the unanimous response was: homemade! “It’s so much more fun!” counselled several Twerps. (Unrelated aside: Click here to follow me on Twitter!)

So after watching a video we already had in the house (cost: $0), we sat down to dinner. The girls (four-year-old Isobel included) wanted to eat by themselves in the kitchen so Matt and I could have a “romantic” dinner by ourselves in the dining room. (I need to point out here that our house is open-concept.) While I knew my girls would love the pizza, because I make it regularly (the crust, too!), I worried that Rebecca wouldn’t like it — but she did!

After dinner, the kids asked to go for a walk, so we leashed up the dog and headed to a nearby park, where we spent the remainder of the evening. (A two-for-one deal, because the dog needed a walk, anyway.) Cost: still $0.

In pre-kids days, or even when we had just Bronwyn, we might have followed the urge to go out for breakfast. But breakfast for five? Disregarding the logistics for a second (what if there’s a lineup, as is even more likely the case when you need a big table), even the cheapo eggs-and-homefries plate gets pricey when you multiply by five, especially given the sky-high price of juice in restaurants. So we cooked French toast and bacon at home (Rebecca’s first time trying French toast — again, she liked it! phew!) Because we would’ve had a similar breakfast for just the three of us, I’m still counting the weekend as costing $0 to this point.

Now, we did promise all three girls that we would either go to the zoo (we have a membership, so that would’ve cost nothing) or, if it rained, go indoor rock climbing. Alas, the skies threatened and eventually opened up in a big way, so it was to the climbing gym we went after breakfast. Still, not so pricey: The kids cost $10 each, including harnesses, which is less than we paid for our last bowling outing. The other nice thing is that it’s totally acceptable to bring your own food and bottled water to the climbing gym, and you don’t feel awkward doing it, because everyone does it. More cost savings!

Matt and I were thrilled to discover that Isobel now fits into the child-size harness and climbing shoes we bought for Bronwyn at that age. Here she is, taking a break with one of the snacks we brought with us:

What’s your strategy for hosting sleepovers? Do you try to keep the kids at home? How do you keep costs reasonable?

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