Many people are suffering from a depressed economy, and money is tight for necessities, let alone luxuries. During the summer, kids have extra time on their hands, and many parents want to find ways to create lasting memories. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost money to have a good time. Here are some ideas for frugal summer activities that will keep your kids from getting bored this summer.
Read a Book
The library is free, and books can keep kids interested for hours in the summer. Even better, many libraries have summer reading programs, where your kids can earn a prize for reading books. Over the summer, some libraries host movies and hold other special activities for kids of all ages to have fun. Arrange a weekly trip to the library, and you have one afternoon a week where you don’t have to hear your kids say “I’m bored.” Even better, if you know another family with kids, invite them to your weekly library trip, and they can get books and see their friends at the same time.
Break out the Sprinklers
One of my childhood summer memories was running through the sprinklers. Have your kids put on their swimsuits, turn on the sprinklers, and have them run through the yard. If you have a lawn, you’ll have to water it anyway, and this is a cheap way to entertain the kids for a while.
Set up the Proverbial Lemonade Stand
My daughter asked me the other day how she, as an eight-year-old, could earn money. If you have a bored child that is also looking for a way to earn money, encourage them to be an entrepreneur. Not only will they stay busy, but they will also earn some money (or at least get a good business education). They don’t have to actually set up a lemonade stand; they can be creative and think of their own ideas. Can they mow lawns for neighbors? Sell on eBay (they’ll need your help for that one)? Collect aluminum cans? One suggestion that I gave my daughter was designing t-shirts. Determined kids often get their start in business at a young age.
Visit the Park
Parks are a cheap afternoon of entertainment for many kids. There are slides, swings, and plenty of open space to play a ball game. Most parks are free, although some charge for parking. Parks are also a great place for kids to meet new people. You might want to arrange park visits with your friends.
There are often plenty of opportunities to exercise in the summer. Go on family bike rides. Even infants and toddlers can go on family bike rides with the bike trailers that are available. If your family doesn’t have bikes, you can always go on walks together. You can walk around the neighborhood on cool evenings, or venture out further on the weekends: most people live within driving distance of some place to hike. If walking or bike riding aren’t your thing, you could always play your family’s favorite sport in the backyard.
One of my favorite summer activities is swimming. You might have a pool, know a good friend that does, or have access to a pool at your apartment complex. If not, there might be an inexpensive pool in your area. Kids love to splash in the water, play Marco Polo, and swim. Younger kids can start to learn to swim.
Spend an evening as a family watching a movie together. For a free night, watch a movie that you already have, or watch a movie on television. If you have a little bit of money to spend, rent a movie for the evening. Pop some popcorn, turn out the lights, and enjoy the movie together.
Family Game Night
For a frugal evening where your family interacts, hold a family game night. Most people own at least one board game, and if you don’t, you can find inexpensive board games at garage sales or Goodwill. The littlest children may not be able to play games that are more advanced than Candy Land, but older kids can play games like Monopoly, Life, and Clue. Kids also can learn card games like Hearts. DVD games like Scene It are also fun.
If you have a tent and sleeping bags, take your family on a camp out. You may want to find a National or State park in your area, or if you’re really tight on money, camp in your backyard. Campouts can take some prior planning, especially if you are driving a ways away, but they provide lasting memories and are a relatively inexpensive way to spend a weekend.
Find out about Community Activities
Almost every community has free or inexpensive activities throughout the summer. There might be a Fourth of July parade or fireworks display, an arts and crafts fair, or a community event that commemorates a local hero. To find out what events are going on in your local area, look up your local newspaper or television station’s web site. Most have community calendars that will let you know of events in your local area that you and your family can attend.