Summer is coming! School is almost over, the sun is out more often, and temperatures are getting warmer. Soon your kids will be ready for fun summer activities. There are so many great things you can do in the summer, including road trips, summer camps, and more; however, many of these activities can get very expensive, especially if you are already paying for summer day care. There are many activities that are fun and affordable though, and your kids will really enjoy them.
Summer is a great time to get outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to sign your child up for every camp available; many children love camp, but they also enjoy time with their parents, and yes, even their siblings. There are also some great indoor activities you can do during the super hot days. So check out these ideas, get out your planner, and get ready for a fun summer!
1. Explore the great outdoors
Camps and sports are great, and you should involve your child in these activities if you want to. However, your child will benefit from time with you outside as well. There are many activities you can do outside that are completely free. Most kids love parks; you can make a park trip even more fun by bringing a picnic. You can also add a new twist to parks, particularly if you have young children; consider doing a park tour where you go to a different park each week. This will work whether you are home with your kids during the day, or they are in day care, because you can take them on the weekends or in the evening when it is cooler. You can also include a scavenger hunt and bring fun activities for older kids to do while younger kids play.
Many kids love to hike; consider taking your kids on a hiking adventure. Just make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, snacks, and water. Many kids also love camping; although this isn’t always free, it is usually affordable. Test drive your plans by having the kids try sleeping in a tent in your backyard first.
2. Relax by the water
The beach, pools, and water parks are popular destinations in the summer. A summer-long pass to a community pool or water park can be expensive, but will save you money if you plan to go there regularly. Many pools have different areas for younger and older kids, which helps keep kids safe in the water, but can also be difficult if you take multiple kids at once and have to watch all of them. Consider going with a spouse or friend if your children are not great swimmers yet.
If you prefer to stay close to home, you can purchase a kiddie pool for your backyard. Be sure to read about all the ways to keep the pool clean so germs don’t spread. Also, you still need to watch your kids carefully; small children can drown in very little water. Sprinklers are also a nice addition for backyard fun, and are pretty cheap.
3. Visit somewhere with air conditioning
As nice as it is to be inside your own home with the air conditioning circulating, your kids will go crazy if you are always at your own house. There are many free or affordable fun places you can take your kids in the summer, and most of them will have air conditioning – ideal for the days that are too hot to be outside. Consider a children’s museum; although prices can add up if you have multiple family members, you will save a lot by purchasing a year-long or season’s pass. You can maximize your membership by going regularly.
Bowling alleys are also a great idea for relief from summer heat. Many bowling places have free or reduced summer bowling programs for kids. The library is also a free and fun way for your children to explore and learn. Ask your local librarian if the library has a summer reading program (many include prizes when kids read a certain amount of hours or books.)
4. Stay inside at home
Your kids will need to have various activities during the summer in order to be entertained, but you can certainly plan days at home, too. It is important for kids to learn to play with their own toys and not to expect to be entertained 100 percent of the time. Plan to stay home once in a while, and allow your kids to spend time playing games or doing artwork. If you want to, you can break the day up so that some of it involves the kids playing by themselves and finding their own entertainment, and some of the day can be guided by you. Consider helping the kids to do some fun summer crafts: tie-dye is a great summer craft, and using things from the beach (shells, for example), or from outside (pine cones, flowers, etc) to make something can be fun too.
5. Bring in reinforcements
No matter how much time you plan spending the perfect summer, your kids will look forward to a break in their routine sometimes. Enlist a relative to help you once in a while. If grandma and grandpa live nearby, ask if they would be willing to take the kids for the day. If they live within driving distance, consider a short road trip. Just doing something out of the ordinary will be fun for your kids, and they will probably love seeing family members that dote on them.
Plan activities with your friends who have children as well. Inviting friends along can make an ordinary trip to the park much more exciting for your kids, and more intellectually stimulating for you as well. If you are home with your kids during the day, call up a friend and invite them somewhere, or look for a mom or dad’s group. If you work during the day, try to plan activities with other families at night or on the weekends, as many families are more willing to meet after dinner during the summer because school is out and the sun is still up.
6. Let your kids help you fix something
When kids are young, they love to act like mommy or daddy. This means that they will often want to help you with small projects. The tricky part can be practicing patience (they think they are helping you, but sometimes they are in the way.) Find activities that they can help you with that won’t matter as much to you if they get messed up. Or, find tasks that they are really old enough to help you with. Let your kids help you plant flowers or water the garden (just be sure to take safety precautions like having them avoid chemicals and machinery.) Teach your children something — they will love learning with you and feeling like big kids.
This same idea can work for older kids in a different way. Let older kids help you with bigger tasks, like fixing your car or changing the oil. Many older kids like building things — if you have a work space in your garage, build a shelf or other item together that your child can actually use.
Summer is a great time to spend time with family, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great summer.