6 Things Saving This Vancouver Mom’s Sanity This Summer


We’re closing in on the last weeks of summer. The novelty is gone, everyone is home ALL THE TIME. The constant requests for snacks and my new role as referee have grown a little tiring, but there are a few outings and activities that have saved my sanity without breaking the bank. If you’re in the Vancouver area and feeling like September is a long way off, these free or inexpensive activities might just save your sanity as well. 

Kid running through sprinkler on lawnRegal Cinemas

I don’t know where this knowledge has been all my life, but multiple Regal Cinemas offers $2 tickets to older movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you get yourself a free Regal card, all sorts of discounted popcorn and hotdogs go along with it. “Space Jam” on a Tuesday morning and hot dogs all for $10? Yes, please.


With just a quick and easy sign up through Big Al’s, kids get two free games of bowling and five arcade games. You still have to pay for shoes, but we’ve been playing with the bumpers on and I managed to finally get a score over 100, so everybody wins!

Three Creeks Library

I love our public libraries. Anytime we come away with free books is a score for me, and we’ve started our own ritual of lemonade book parties after we come home. An added bonus is Three Creeks library offers numerous scavenger hunts, crafts, and tween book clubs to check out. My kids have been loving it and it’s a fun little deviation from the downtown library we usually visit.

Local Hikes

It’s no secret we live in an area with some of the best hiking around. But some of these hikes aren’t kid-friendly or are a major trek from Vancouver. A friend lent me a book, Little Feet Hiking, and it changed everything for me. The author has published several books and also has a website that makes specific recommendations for local hikes ranging for small children to older kids who are able to listen and take direction well. It has suggestions for keeping kids’ interest and learning about the ecosystems around them.

This summer we’ve enjoyed treks around Lacamas Lake, the Salmon Morgan Creeks Natural Area, and Whipple Creek to name a few.

Splash Pads and Fountains

Since we went from 6 straight months of rain to 90 degree heat, no one in my family is handling the sun very well, but a good old fashioned splash pad makes it bearable. I’m partial to Kline Line park where the only cost is $3 for parking, and the fountain in Vancouver Waterfront Park has provided hours of entertainment. There’s a nearby stand to purchase margaritas, which also doesn’t hurt.

Sprinklers and Otter Pops

I’m a big fan of the classics. Sometimes when my kids are ready to launch a coup and I can’t make one more snack, I send everybody outside and then I bask in the very best part of summer: sprinklers and a green otter pop. It doesn’t get much better than that. Several months from now, when the kids are in school and I’m pulling out sweaters from the back of the closet, this will be the thing I’ll miss the most.

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Emily Corak has spent the last three decades in the Pacific Northwest and prefers to live in Vancouver because parking in Portland terrifies her. A mom to two kids, ages 3 and 7, Emily has been an educator for the past decade and she currently works with middle school English language learners. She wasn't planning on becoming a mother, but she's glad she was so careless because it turns out she really likes being a mom. Most days. Emily is now going back to school for her MFA in creative writing after deciding she had more to offer the world than breast milk and unsolicited grammar advice. When the world allows, she spends any spare cash on plane tickets, and she lives for books, tea, and all things Top Chef. She occasionally writes about anything and everything that comes to mind, and you can find her work here: https://offbrandmusings.blogspot.com/