Summer Fun that Won’t Break the Bank

The summer heat sets in just in time… to be surrounded by children who want to be entertained. All. Day. Long.

It seems that by about the fourth day of school vacation the zoo inmates – ahem, children – are going crazy. The screen time hits all-time highs, the whining and bickering is on constant repeat, and the entire pantry and fridge are cleaned out with mindless snacking.

Having a plan of attack can help. But you don’t want to run through your budget buying things and experiences quickly and then run out of ideas and cash flow. So your plan should balance affordable (or free!) entertainment with the bigger dollar items.

Today we’re bringing you a whole list of ideas to help keep those kiddos from whining all summer long.

Ongoing Options

These may come with an up-front cost but could pay major dividends to keep you from losing your mind all summer. You can check them out daily, weekly, or even use them as a reward for good behavior.

  • Community pool membership. Most are open every day, and even if you just go for an hour when everyone is getting antsy, it can help keep the peace.
  • Amusement park. A season pass can often pay for itself in two or three visits, and if you pack water and snacks, you can have a blast for hours.
  • Science Center. Air conditioning indoors and hands-on projects can keep their attention for practically an entire day.
  • Museum – Art, children’s, or nature. All of the above will have something that interests each kid.

Affordable Ideas

  1. Go for a bike ride. Strap on those helmets, maybe lug the bikes to a rail trail or park with walking trails. Practice going in figure eights or racing. Have fun!
  2. Try geocaching. You can download an app that provides GPS info for you to go on a compass-guided treasure hunt for something other geocachers have hidden. You’ll find it in a small, waterproof container. Update the log book, and if there’s a knickknack, take it and leave one of your own. Visit geocaching.com to get started.
  3. Visit a u-pick farm – strawberries, blueberries, peaches, or blackberries. It’s so much fun, a little messy, and there’s a little snacking along the way.
  4. Look up local parks and playgrounds in your area. Make a map, and a plan to visit each one. Try them out, and then rate them according to your favorites.
  5. Camp out in your backyard. You’ll probably end up going back inside to sleep (more comfortable!), but you can have a giant almost-sleepover – go stargazing, catch fireflies, and tell ghost stories.
  6. Visit a petting zoo. And bring lots of hand sanitizer. Try to take selfies with as many animals as you can. If your kids are little, imitate the animal sounds at every stop. Instagram central!
  7. Check out local art galleries. Pick out your favorite paintings or pieces in each.
  8. Bake something you’ve always wanted to try. Or if it’s too hot, make a ‘no-bake’ option. Kids love the hands-on part of baking. And have them help clean up!
  9. Complete a house project. While kids can’t help with carpentry, you could have them “help” you paint a room or rearrange furniture, or even give a room a good scrubbing and reward them with a treat.
  10. Break out the board games. They’re great for learning and strategy, and can also take up some time. And space on the dining room table.
  11. Get together with friends for playdates. Or consider trading kids on and off for an afternoon every week. You’ll each get some peace and quiet!
  12. Take a day trip to the beach. It takes some work to get ready and the drive there isn’t any fun, but oh, the sand and the waves are cure-alls.
  13. Check out a nature cam online. There are many to choose from: Africam, Explore.org, Monterey Bay’s sea otter cam, and HD on tap with live feeds from all over the U.S.
  14. Don’t forget about your local library. They’re often chock-full of free items to bring home and events – Lego building sessions, story times, new board games to try, craft activities, even movie nights.
  15. Make a homemade bird feeder, and then hang it up and watch them flock. Check out Pinterest for supplies you have right at home.
  16. Make your own sprinkler. You’ll need an empty, two-liter soda bottle and a male-to-male adapter for the hose. Poke holes in the soda bottle and attach it to the end of a hose using the adapter. Throw the hose over a tree branch and let it hang down, spraying water everyone can run through!
  17. Get out the duct tape and make a race track. Better to use outside than inside on your floors, so grab the roll and let your kids direct you on setting up a race track, and then let them go to town driving their cars all around it.
  18. Grab some brushes and rocks and bring out your inner artist. You can get messy and paint outside on newspaper, making a whole rock collection with beautiful colors.
  19. Be creative with tinfoil. Pull out a whole bunch and roll up the edges to make the course for a river. Turn the hose on low and fill the river with water; then make tinfoil boats to sail up and down the river.
  20. Create a spiderweb. Use painter’s tape in a doorway; stretch the tape criss-crossed from one side of the doorway to the other. Keep the sticky side facing the same way as you make your own spiderweb. Then, roll up scrap paper into balls and throw them at the web to stick.
  21. Make placemats with paper and laminate them. Keep them to decorate your own table or donate them to a local Meals on Wheels.
  22. Make a sewing project that you don’t have to do any sewing for. Try out a no-sew fleece blanket and give them as gifts or donate them to Project Linus.
  23. Write an old-fashioned letter with your kids to grandparents or other family members. It will mean so much to them and will be a sweet way to connect.
  24. The summer classic: s’mores. If you have somewhere to safely have a fire, then make summer’s tastiest treat. Nothing better than melty chocolate and sticky marshmallows on a hot night!
  25. Chase down the ice cream truck and experience the joy of getting a cold treat on a hot day.

Summer can be hectic, but also full of fun! When the lack of schedule starts getting to you or if you’re feeling cooped up, you can check out this list and add an easy activity to your day. If you work full time outside the home, these are also great options to fill your weekends with family fun for a great price. If you approach it like an adventure, you can make it through with memories your kids will always remember!

Planning well for summer fun might take some budgeting attention even if you keep things in check. To make sure your finances are in good shape to keep giving your family the adventures they deserve, you can talk to a trustworthy financial expert on everything from refinancing loans to saving well. Contact us today to learn more!