As the lyrics to the infamous Kiss song, Schools Out for Summer are blaring on the intercom at your child’s school, kids everywhere are headed home to rest, relax and annoy the stew out of their parents. The current economic conditions have many families opting to stay home this summer rather than visit pricey resorts and finding ways to avoid the “I’m bored” chorus is critical to parental sanity. The good news is that this nosedive in available funding and excess time together can actually bring families back to their roots and have you and your children enjoying some of the simple pleasures in life.
The first advice is of course, to come up with some summer time rules. Give them a few extra chores around the house so that you don’t end up becoming a 24-hour maid regretting your decision to not send the kids to camp. This is a good time to start even young children making their own beds in the morning and learning how to fill up a bowl of cereal or heat up a pop-tart when they are hungry. In the long run, your introduction to real life chores like laundry sorting will help you out and transition your kids to independent and self-reliant creatures.
Step two is to come up with a very brief and comprehensive plan of things that you can do on a budget. Allow each child in your home to fill out some scrap pieces of paper with ideas of activities they want to do. Your youngest may write spend a day at the jump-house while your older kids may favor a day at a local water park. Decide that each week – you will do one activity, saving the most costly ones for a special time. Perhaps rather than paying kids an allowance for their extra chores, you can plan an end of summer bash at a local water park should they earn the privilege.
Encourage your kids to think of local things to do. So many parents are caught up in vacations that require extensive travel when a host of activities (many free) exist right outside your back door. Check out the state parks, many of which offer swimming holes and hiking trails and plan day trips that will acquaint your child with their home state. Also, look for some inexpensive camps that may be offered by the schools which can keep your kids interested or peak an interest in sports, arts or crafts.
Another great way to enjoy the summer is to look for any of the millions of outdoor concerts that are often held. Whether you live in a big city or not, chances are that some nearby city or town is hosting festivals and concerts that are free to the public. Treating your kids to snow cones and funnel cakes while you are there can be inexpensive and make the evening special. Plus, it may foster a love in music and have a family atmosphere that can truly bring you and your kids together.
Since swimming is always a great summer activity, look for swimming holes in your area. You might be surprised to find the immense amount of lake beaches (which are often safer for children) or local pools where you can join for nominal summer fees. This will keep your kids cool, allow you time to relax as well as provide plenty of exercise and time for socializing. Local libraries also have lots of summer reading activities that include entertainment for children of all ages. Many of their schoolmates may be attending these as well.
Speaking of friends, talk to your children’s friends and their parents to plan sleepovers in the backyard. If you are close with them, take turns organizing day trips together for the kids so that the kids will form bonding friendships and you will have some distracting conversation besides that of your children to engage in. If you live in a neighborhood, even planning neighborhood activities like yard sales, bizarres or old fashion street fairs can be a great way to get the garage cleaned out and keep the kids busy over the summer time.
Other cost friendly ideas that will help you to enjoy your summer without busting your budget is to take weekend camping trips. Visit family that lives out of town and explore their hometown for a change of pace. Or, take on a home improvement project around the house that the kids can take part in. Summer is the perfect time to redecorate your tweens room, add a porch to your home, or build a playground of your own. Not to mention, turn your bedroom into retreat for you and your spouse to enjoy in private.
You don’t have to spend money to make family memories. Often by thinking of simple activities that don’t cost a bundle, you will actually be able to enjoy summer vacation with your children without feeling burdened to have the time of your life. Getting back to the basics and simplifying things may be just the way to reconnect with the kids and make this the most memorable summer ever. Of course, buying yourself sound high quality headphones and an Ipod can help you get through it as well.
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