Schools are closed for summer. Usually, this means eating out more, taking a vacation or planning exciting family activities, all of which cost a small fortune. This year you’re probably wondering how to keep your children entertained without busting your budget or having them glued to the TV or iPad all summer.
The good news is that there are several options to explore. An enjoyable and memorable summer doesn’t have to be expensive. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and family time by engaging in the following activities:
1. Go to the Beach
Being at the beach is a great activity. It gives children and adults an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll probably pay a small fee to access the beach but the activities you can enjoy there are almost endless. Not only will they keep the children engaged, but they will also enhance their creativity. Some fun activities at the beach include:
This is so much fun to do with the kids. All you need is sand, water, a small pail and your hands. Your castle can be as small or as big as your creativity allows.
Maybe running around isn’t your thing. No worries. There are plenty of game options for both the active and non-active. Ball games include beach soccer, volleyball and catch. You can also toss frisbees or do sprint races in the sand. A deck of cards or game of backgammon also will keep you occupied.
At any beach, you will most likely find seashells. While this seems like a straightforward activity, keep these things in mind:
- Take something to carry your shells like a container
- Only collect dead shells (in many states, it’s against the law to collect live shells).
- Clean them properly to remove the ocean smell.
Splashing Each Other
Cool off by splashing and letting the waves wash over you. Mind the little ones since some waves are quite strong and dangerous.
2. Plan a Scavenger Hunt
You can do this in your backyard or a nearby park. Plan the hunt by listing the items the family will be looking for. Distribute the list before they go hunting and let them know the time and place you will meet after the hunt. Reward the winner with some candy or an ice-cream. Family members from preschoolers to adults can enjoy this activity. Some ideas include the following:
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
This requires family members to go door to door asking neighbors for the items on the list. These items could include paper clips, rubber bands, coins, paper towels and toothpicks. Make sure that the team is spread out throughout the neighborhood so that they don’t bother the same neighbors too much.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
This is more appropriate in a park where you can easily find natural objects like a yellow leaf, a red flower, a pinecone, and etcetera.
3. Go to the Museum
If you’ve never been to the museum, you’ll be surprised to find that there’s one in your neighborhood. Not only is this a great way to spend time with your family, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about history. It enhances children’s creative thinking and open’s up their minds to new perspectives.
Some parents are concerned about the trip to the museum because of children’s endless questions which they might not be able to answer. Look at it as a learning opportunity for all of you. The different museums you could visit include art museums, national history museums, children’s museums and science centers.
4. Visit a Local Farm
Do you know of any farms in the area? Visit them for a tour. Many farms will be willing to do this. If the farm is a good distance away, you might have to part with a bit of money for gas. Pack some homemade sandwiches and bottles of water. Most children find it exciting to see animals like cows and goats up-close.
Visiting a farm teaches children lessons that they won’t learn anywhere else. These include:
Responsibility: Children learn that animals need to be fed, washed and treated. They also learn that for food to grow properly, plants must be watered, weeded and pruned. This teaches them to be responsible for any animals they might own.
Appreciation: After seeing how much work goes into growing and caring for plants, they will have more appreciation for food. They are likely to waste less and to eat more natural food like the ones they see on the farm.
Go to the Library
Reading opens up a new world to both adults and children. Children learn new things and develop their brains as well. Cut down on the countless hours’ children usually, spend watching TV or playing video games. You could create a challenge where everyone in the family borrows a book from the library each week.
At the end of the week, each member of the family will tell the others what the book was about and the lessons they learned from it. When you’re involved, it encourages your children to take on the challenge positively.
Other reasons to visit the library include:
- Book sales
- Summer reading programs for all ages
- Craft Fairs
- Free resources (books, magazines, music)
6. Volunteer in Your Neighborhood
Children usually make demands and want their parents to give them whatever they want. This is a good opportunity for them to realize that they must give, especially of their time. This activity might seem inappropriate for toddlers, but it’s good to carry them along so that they can start early. Call the volunteer center nearest to you for opportunities.
Little children can visit nursing homes. In fact, some homes organize special toddler days. It warms the hearts of the elderly to have little children visiting them. You can also take them to a children’s hospital where they can read their favorite storybooks to the children.
Older children can take part in serving meals at a shelter, planning food drives and cleaning up the community. Children who have never seen people less fortunate than them will ask several questions. Be prepared. On the bright side, they’ll grow to be empathetic and generous. They’ll soon be initiating this activity.
7. Backyard Camping
Experience the excitement of camping without the travel cost and time. Of course, you’ll need a tent and some marshmallows. The whole process of pitching the tent, lighting the fire and roasting the marshmallows together will inspire teamwork. You can sit around the fire and tell each other stories or sing songs. It helps if you can keep your phones and iPads in the house to engage and enjoy the bonding experience.
8. Picnic in the Park
Picnics are a great way to enjoy nature and the outdoors. You’ll need blankets to sit on. If you have some camp chairs, carry them along. You can prepare simple homemade snacks like sandwiches, some fruit, vegetable salad and lemonade. Don’t feel pressured into doing something. Do whatever you want. You can take a nap, read a book, play a board game or toss a frisbee.
9. Jumping Gym
Jumping gyms are becoming popular for both children and adults. They are indoor inflatable play areas like bouncy castles. This is an awesome activity for children with high energy levels and they cost as little as $5 per person. Not only is it so much fun, but it’s also a form of exercise. If you’re into jumping and climbing, this is for you.
10. Watch Outdoor Movies
Most communities show free outdoor movies. Check for the next outdoor movie in your city. It might be too far away, or you might not want to leave your home that late. Guess what? You can set it up in your backyard.
You’ll need a projector, a speaker, a screen (you can use a well-ironed white bed sheet), blankets to sit on, popcorn and adequate lighting for safety. Be friendly and invite your neighbors. Make sure that the movie is PG so that there’s no awkwardness.
Doing these budgeting activities always making you financially strong and keeping you away from any unnecessary burden on your bank account. when parents have a low-income profile spending a lot on travel without budgeting can lead to finding a loan near you, which you certainly want to avoid if possible.
We hope that you’re now equipped with great ideas for the summer that won’t bust your budget. Having fun doesn’t mean you should drain your bank account. The most important thing should be bonding as a family and creating amazing memories. The above ideas will help you do just that. For some of these activities, you might not even spend a single cent.