- Family and Parenting
Keep Your Children Happy this Summer with Free or Cheap Activities
The long days of summer are upon us. It is wonderful to have the kids home and they are so excited to be out of school for three months. But let's be honest here. There is a lot of day to fill and it can be hard. Children have a way of wanting, wanting, wanting. They want to go here, or do this, or eat there, or play this, etc. The asking seems to never end. Rather than park your child in front of the television this summer plan some fun activities to keep them happy - some of the time. I don't expect anyone to entertain their kids 24/7, but having things to do and places to go a few times a week is good for everyone.
I am all about making sure that we get enough exercise. I want everyone to be happily exhausted at the end of the day to ensure a good night's sleep. We go for walks to the park, we go on family bike rides, we run races, we ride scooters, we play baseball and much more. This is good for all of us and the kids (ages 12, 9, 7 and 5) still see this as an adventure - and much better than sitting at home.
Join your library reading program and make it a weekly event to go to the library. At our library we can check out books, audio books, games, puzzles, stuffed animals, movies and more. With the summer reading program you are instilling a love of reading in your kids as well as having fun with them. These programs are also usually free and provide some great prizes to reward your child for reading.
Another fun thing for us to do is go to the movies. During the year we see about one movie at the theater and it is a special occasion. In the summer though, many theaters such as Cinemark and AMC offer summer movies for free or around $1. You really can't beat that. No, it isn't the latest, greatest movies, but it is an air conditioned or rain free place to spend a morning for very little money.
Have you heard of the Kids Bowl Free program? You have to sign up ahead of time for the summer, but each child can bowl two games free every single day of the summer. You do have to pay shoe rental but if you have been bowling recently then you will know what a great deal this is.
Consider a membership somewhere. Many families opt for pool memberships each summer and go every single day. Around us the pool memberships are hundreds of dollars, which is a lot more than we can spend. Depending on the price and how much you use it though, this could be the best bang for your buck. We found another option though. There is a lake near us that has swimming, fishing and paddle boats as well as hiking trails. We could have paid by the day, but it is a much better deal to get a membership. It was $90 for our whole family and we can go as often as we like. If you have somewhere you like to visit a lot in the summer, consider a membership to keep the per visit cost lower.
Rather than going on a big vacation take day trips. Visit the zoo or a museum for the day. How about a really cool park? We have a couple on our list and plan to take a picnic lunch and stay for a few hours. We will also go on several local hiking trails, taking a picnic lunch there as well. Spending time outdoors as a family is one of the best things we can do and it is usually entirely free. You can't beat it.
Another way to keep your kids happy in the summer is to invest in stuff at home. Do they complain about having nothing to do outside? Hit Wal-Mart for some outdoor games or toys. We have bikes, scooters, a pogo stick, sidewalk chalk, basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes, Frisbees, bubbles, a swing set and more. Provide some outdoor toys to give them something to do outside. If you don't, chances are good that they will be back inside within a few minutes.
I firmly believe that the way I grew up (and many other people) is best for kids. Plenty of time outdoors, only coming in for meals and the bathroom, and plenty of good healthy sunshine and fun is what they need. Sprinkle in some planned free or inexpensive activities and your summer will be made. Have fun!