Whether you’re a stay-at-home or a working parent, it’s likely that summertime gets tough. When kids are home all day, or at least out of the routine of school, they get bored easily. Boredom often leads to whining or other forms of mischief.
So what if you’re looking to keep your kids busy, but don’t want to spend loads of money on a trip to the local zoo twice a week? Here are some cheap ideas to help maintain your sanity, uh, keep your kids occupied for the rest of the summer.
1. Let them be bored
Step One in surviving summer as a parent is to let your kids be bored. As kids these days experience ever more scheduled lives, they’re left less and less often to their own devices. They need to learn to play on their own and
be creative. In fact, experts say boredom is essential for learning creativity!
Number one on your list is also the easiest option: give your kids down time. Provide them with space and time to come up with things to do and don’t immediately fill up their schedules when boredom inevitably strikes. It doesn’t get much
easier or cheaper than that!
2. Institute a chore chart
You might as well keep your kids busy and get something out of it. If you don’t already, now is the time to teach them responsibility with a chore chart. This could include unpaid daily chores like making their beds, feeding the
family pet, etc. Or you could step up your game a notch with commission-based paid chores. Make a list or chart of chores kids
can get paid for, including the chores’ monetary value. When kids check a chore off the list to your satisfaction, they get paid.
Sure, you’ve got to invest some money in this one. But it’s a great way to teach kids responsibility and help them start managing their own money.
3. Visit the local library
These days, most local libraries run summer reading programs. Maybe even an incentive for non-readers to pick up a book this summer. Just make a habit of stopping by the library once a week and be sure to let kids pick appropriate
books that they find interesting (even if you don’t see the attraction). This is a two-birds-one-stone approach, since visiting the library makes for a fun outing and reading all those books whiles away hours of the summer.
4. Create a craft station
Got creative kids? Consolidate all of your crafting materials into one place and let them go to town. Warning: this will get messy!
You don’t have to go buy a bunch of brand-name craft kits, either. Start collecting things like used printer paper, old crayons, toilet paper rolls and nature items. Keep these, along with basic supplies like craft paper, scissors
and glue in the craft area. Let kids go to town on their own (or lightly supervised) and use social media sites like Pinterest for inspiration on projects they can create.
5. Check out your local parks & recreation department
Need the kids out of the house for a day or several this summer? Summer camps can be prohibitively expensive if you’re on a tight budget. But, often times, local parks and recreation departments run day camps that are much cheaper,
and allow kids to get outdoors and burn off some energy.
Even if your local department doesn’t run camps where they’ll actually take your kids for the day, chances are they’re hosting some cheap or free summer events you can attend as a family.
6. Plant a garden
Get kids out of the house and into a healthy pastime with gardening. Even small kids can help plant corn if you’ve got room, as it’s easy to grow in many U.S. climates. Talk to your local gardening center about fruits, vegetables or
flowers that are particularly easy to grow in your area.
Be sure to give the kids some autonomy over this project, to really let them get involved. They should be able to help choose the plants and the layout. They should also be responsible for weeding, watering and other garden
maintenance. This is a great skill building activity that can also keep kids busy all summer long.
7. Get to know free activities in your area
The internet is rife with great blogs highlighting local activities, especially for families with kids. Run a quick Google search for your area and get familiar with what’s out there. These blogs may keep calendars of family-friendly
activities, often free or cheap ones, throughout the summer.
8. Create an activity bucket
There’s usually plenty to do around your house, but the kids aren’t great at figuring out the next best idea. Write down potential activities on popsicle sticks and stick them in a jar or bucket. Let the kids choose one activity each
day and make it happen.
Include things like making homemade ice cream, building a bicycle ramp in the back yard, creating a sprinkler out of an old two liter bottle or building a fort in the living room. Try to come up with ideas using only materials you’ve
got on hand, especially if they’re things the kids can do largely unsupervised.
9. Explore new local parks
Make it a goal to go to one new park each week this summer. If you’re in a medium to large metropolitan area, there are probably loads of neighborhood parks you’ve never even heard of. And you might discover a few new favorites.
Just set aside one afternoon each week, pack a picnic lunch and try out a new park. There are many great parks in Montgomery County and surrounding areas.
10. Create a summer memory board
Kids love to collect things, whether it’s movie ticket stubs or rocks from each park you visit. And if you’re like many parents, you like to take photos of your kids having fun. Combine all these memory-sparking items and photos
onto a summer memory board.
All you need is a large cork board, which you can get for a few bucks at a local craft store. Each time you try something new or create new memories, add to your board. Looking at the board may help spark new activity ideas for your
kids, and it’ll be a great memento to have at the end of the summer.
11. Pick up some board games
Board games for kids have come a long way since Candy Land. While the old games are still great, many new games teach skills like resource management, teamwork and basic strategy skills. You’ll need to invest some money up
front in these board games, but you can get most kids’ games for $20 or less. And if your kids end up loving them, it’s an investment you won’t regret!
12. Start a small business
If you want to keep your kids really busy this summer, get them thinking about how to earn, save and invest money. Young kids can plan for a garage sale late in the summer, spending the summer sorting through clothes and toys they no
longer need. Bigger kids can mow lawns or pull weeds for the neighbors, or act as mother’s helpers, taking care of little kids while mom is still around.
Just be sure to start your young entrepreneur off right with a checking account and savings tool. A regular savings account or piggy bank may work, but you could also start teaching your kids the basics of investing with an IRA.
Please consider The Myers Team your resource for all things real estate. We have over 30 years of real estate experience, specializing in the Montgomery County area. If you are refinancing, want a recommendation, need a service provider or just have a home related question, please give me a call at 301-910-9910 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.