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Cheap Entertainment - What to do in the summer with kids, that doesn’t cost a lot.
If you can afford one of these - go for it!
Summer is coming soon!
The time is drawing near when school is out and the kids are going to be running around driving you nuts wanting to do something, ANYTHING! As a parent, for the most part I just flew by the seat of my pants and did whatever my bank book allowed, knowing there would be more in the bank next week. With times as they are now, it’s just not that easy. Gas at $4.00 per gallon, just riding around is darned near impossible. The money might not be there next week, but the kids will.
Sure you can tell them to go outside to play, knowing kids as I do, if you don’t keep at least ½ an eye on them, there will be trouble. If you live in a crowded area, there is certainly going to be trouble, that’s just the way it is. Attempting to plan out an itinerary just might be beneficial for you.
If you happen to have even a small backyard, this is a great place to start! For a few dollars, a couple tarps can be purchased at your local hardware or discount store. Some poles or sticks and rope or twine (unless of course you happen to have a clothes line) with a little ingenuity on your part, you can make a usable tent for kids. Check your weather report first to make sure there isn’t going to be rain. A few pillows and blankets along with a good flashlight and your kids are in for a night of fun! Don’t forget, even if you live in a large city with tons of people, there probably will be bears, tigers or even boogie men the first night out!!! Try to do this on a night when you don’t need a lot of sleep, because you probably won’t get any with all the giggling and screaming that will be going on.
If you can afford one - here are some tents to buy!
In my State we have a lot of State Parks, all you have to do is flip open a map and point your finger. Ok, well maybe not that many, but there are a lot. We can usually be at one within an hour. We also are able to purchase a State Park sticker, which will gain entry into any park in the State at no additional cost, for the day. If you’ve renewed your license plate and didn’t add the sticker that isn’t a problem, stop in at the Park Ranger’s office and buy a yearly sticker.
If you are about to renew your license plate you can spend $20 and are good to go for the year. A day pass runs around $7, the yearly pass is $23, so you can see by adding the sticker to your plate, there is money to be saved. Even if you only go 3 times, you are saving a dollar. Once purchased most people will use it more.
In most State Parks there are picnic facilities, grills, lakes, some have boat rentals and most certainly, lots of areas to walk. Bring a picnic lunch, some good sun block and bug spray for a day of fun in the sun! This is definitely cheaper than any tanning package! You’ll be spending time with the kids and everyone will be getting good exercise.
If you have a week off and want to go Rustic camping, most State parks have that available as well. Some State Parks have camping areas for a little as $20 per week with electric hook up! You can even bring the family pets, just call your local State Park to make sure pets are allowed! Pack the car, pack the kids, grab your tent, put a leash on the dog and go! A weeks vacation doesn’t get any cheaper than that!
Local City Parks
If you don’t want to go camping or even take that drive to the State Park, check within your area to see if there are local parks. They usually don’t have swimming facilities but a pretty nice playground can be found! It’s good exercise for the kids, you might even meet a few parents who are out doing the same thing and make a new friend!
If you’re not an ‘outdoorsy’ type of family but would like to get in some good exercise there are other ways. The local YMCA has family packages. These are a little more expensive up front but are good for an entire year, not just summer. There are swimming facilities, exercise facilities, weight training and exercise classes available. Check with your local YMCA for their schedule and yearly costs.
Call your local Community Mental/Health Department to see if they have any programs designated for the summer! If you live near a Zoo, they might offer you low to no cost tickets. They, above all, know that parents need a break from time to time as well as defraying costs for entertainment.
Call your local Community Action Agency to see if they are offering any programs for the summer. If they aren’t they might know of a place that is.
Check your local paper to see what is happening!
Most cities even small ones have at the very least a weekly newspaper. Check in the ad section for classes that your family can take. There are child cooking classes, pottery classes, adult cooking classes, sewing classes, crafting classes as well. These usually come at a small price per person, to cover expenses.
Generally, every Saturday your local craft stores have classes of some sort, in crafting, check with them to see what is up and coming. Michaels and JoAnn fabrics are wonderful for helping to keep the young minds and hands busy.
Lowe’s usually has a ‘work shop’ going on at least once a month (depending on the area) but more likely once a week. Teaching young ones how to paint and make small crafts, taking home what has been made is a treat for the child as well. Most of the work shops are free, some coming with a small fee to cover costs. Generally they do not cost more than $10 per child.
Some of the Community Colleges also offer summer programs as well. These are generally a class that takes place once per week over a 6 week period. Yes, there is a higher cost to these classes, but in the long run your child might get bragging rights that ‘they went to college over the summer’. Going back to school in the fall and having to write that essay of ‘What I did last Summer’ might take on a whole new meaning!
If you have relatives ie; Sisters, brothers, cousins, Aunts or Uncles who also have children within the same age range as yours, you might consider doing a ‘child swap’. You take their child/children for a week or two then they reciprocate. Everyone wins! You get some time off, your relatives get some time off. Everyone gets a break. The children get to be closer to extended family, making for a tighter knit family.
Take time to enjoy them!
Summer is not a time to dread with children, it is a time to rejoice! If you see your children as small people who need things to do and are willing to give them a great time, the time they will give you will also be great! Enjoy them now, because one day they will be all grown up. Teach them young to do fun things and when they have children of their own they will more than likely share their memories and create their own brand of fun.