Summer time means almost three months off from school for the kiddos. When kids are out of their routine of school and homework, parents have to get creative about how to keep their kids occupied. It’s way too easy to let the TV or video games do the entertaining and I try to avoid that as much as possible.
We keep our summer calendar pretty full with summer camps (or daycare) and sports. It can be easy to let time slip away without making some “fun in the sun” kind of memories as a family. I know we are all busy, but if we can’t have fun and be silly with our kids now, then when?
Your calendar is your friend. My best advice to make room for summer fun is take some time as a family NOW to talk about what everyone would like to do this summer. Look at the list below to get you started thinking about what appeals to everyone. Is it a local rodeo, the county fair, spending a day at the water park? Then take out that trusty calendar and schedule your fun. I mean it. Ink it in. Don’t wait until the bathing suits are on clearance and September is approaching. Taking the time now to research local fun will save you time and worry for the rest of the summer. It’s also a great way to set realistic expectations of what your family can afford. When you explain to your children what is reasonable for your family, you can remind them of that conversation mid-July when they don’t understand why you can’t do it all.
And where do you find out about all of these events or outings? Your other friend is the internet. Just search for local concerts, pools, etc. and you are likely to find even more than you expected. And you know those magazines and flyers that come in the mail that you throw away? Read them! I just found a great list of summer concerts nearby because I actually read mine.
Summer Fun with Kids
County fairs- It’s not summer until you’ve had some cotton candy or funnel cake. Think outside the box and check neighboring counties that hold summer fairs as well as your own. It’s always fun to explore new places.
Free concerts- Many upscale shopping centers, local parks, or town squares have free concerts throughout the summer. You can enjoy time together as a family, explore new sounds, and it’s my favorite price- free!
Local pools- If you don’t have a pool of your own, either make friends with someone who does, or check out your city pool. Often times you can buy a summer pass at a discounted price.
Library summer reading programs- I can’t tell you enough how much I support this. After learning the hard way what happens when your child doesn’t practice reading all summer, we participated in this last year. We made weekly trips to the library for new books and a prize each week for reading. The kids stayed motivated and earned fun coupons for skating, lunch, theme parks, just to name a few. Starting third grade was a snap thanks to this!
Miniature golf- Summer is a fun time for mini golf because they stay open late to let you beat the heat of the sunshine. Enjoy a little friendly competition among family members. Don’t forget to check for mid-week specials. A lot of places have a buy one, get one night.
Drive-in movies- If you are lucky enough to have one near you, this is a summer must. Buy some snacks, grab your lawn chairs, and head out to a double feature. If someone gets tired, they can just curl up in the car. This is usually less expensive than a movie theater and the experience is unbeatable.
Explore your own town and local museums- I know that my town has a great little museum of our early history, as well as an Indian Museum and a Telephone Museum. Just a few miles up the freeway are museums about the gold rush and other local history. These are usually free or very inexpensive. Pick a morning to wander your “old town” area and see what you learn.
Free summer lunch- I’m not sure how other states run their program, but in California, there are sites (usually schools) all over the state the offer free lunch to all kids up to 18 years of age, regardless of income. Take your kids to check out the new school meal requirements and save a few bucks.
Baseball games- Hot dogs and fireworks are my idea of a good ball game. Oh, and some baseball too I guess. Minor league games are inexpensive and a fun way to expose your family to live sporting events.
Water parks- Whether it is a city park with a water feature or a full service water park with slides and a wave pool, grab your swimsuit (and sunscreen) and go act like a kid. Waterslides are for grown-ups too!
Rodeo- It doesn’t get more American than this. I love the local rodeo. I don’t know anything about the riding the cowboys (and girls) do, but it’s such a fun environment. Cowboy boots optional.
Dollar movies- Check if your local movie theaters are participating, Cinemark and United Artist play movies on weekday mornings for only $1. It’s a fun treat for the kids and a great way to escape the heat.