Nothing brought more joy to my heart as a child than being set free on my summer vacation. Classes are over, homework has vanished, schedules are history, and freedom reigns.
But from a parenting point of view, summertime brings on a whole new set of responsibilities. The kids aren’t in school for most of the day, they’re not supervised on the playground, and they don’t eat lunch in the lunch room. They’re all yours, and they want to have FUN.
The task before you is clearly defined – how do you entertain your kids for the summer and stay on a budget? Luckily, we’ve compiled a few categories of summertime fun that will still allow you to remain in the black. Check them out and see how you can apply these ideas to your own family adventures this summer.
Plan of Action
Whether it’s summer vacation, grocery shopping, or preparing your taxes, having a plan will always help you do your best. Leading up to the end of the school year, have a family meeting (with the kids, of course) and get everyone’s opinion about fun things to do this summer. Make it a themed meeting and have everyone wear their most colorful summer clothes, complete with hats and sunglasses.
You’d be surprised at how creative your kids can be. Have everyone make a list of their top ten things to do while they’re on summer break. This includes parents too.
Get the kids to use their creativity to make a second list of the most fun things to do that don’t cost any money. It helps them think outside the box, and it gives them a sense of ownership and pride in the family decisions.
After the meeting, you can make a giant summer calendar, complete with pictures and drawings that include all of the things you plan to do. Sometimes the anticipation is half of the fun.
Use Your Imagination
Try to be a kid at heart. If you’re using your imagination, it will help your kids to do the same. Building a working cardboard fort in the yard can be monumentally exciting.
Just remember, kids can have loads of fun when their parents are having fun with them, instead of just paying for them to go do things on their own.
Look for activities in your neighborhood (or a little outside your neighborhood) like parks, swimming, day camps, or working farms. You can go watch the planes take off and land at a small country airport and bring a picnic lunch.
Start a sidewalk-chalk mural, make every Thursday in the summer Craft-Day Thursday, go to a discount store and give them $5 to pick things out from the dollar section. Better yet, let them take the things they bought and find a family that is in need.
Don’t Stop Learning
Use the summer to expand your child’s mind. Just because they’re out of school doesn’t mean they have to stop learning.
Use the summer to teach your kids a new skill. Take them to work with you a few days and let them see what you do all day long. You can build with your kids, paint with your kids, read with your kids, write a story over the whole summer with them, find your friends with the coolest jobs and show your kids an exciting future.
Explore the library – books, computers, and story time are a great way to have fun and remain frugal. You can nurture your child’s education this summer and still have fun. Explore more free things to do this summer.
Get some families together and create your own camp for cooking, writing, reading, carpentry, gaming, computers, or exploring. The list can go on and on. Not only would it be free, but parents could take turns leading, lessening the burden on just one person.
Whether it’s a trip across the state, or a trip to the bowling alley, you’re always making memories with your kids. The amount of money you spend on your family fun this summer is nothing compared to the amount of time you spend having fun with your family.
Let your kids teach you about their electronic entertainment, then turn the tables and have a “history of fun” night where you teach them about board games, game boys, and puzzles and how you entertained yourself back when there were only 10 television channels.
However you choose to bring fun and entertainment to your family this summer, keeping your family as the focal point will ensure your success.