But summer break doesn't have to break your budget. You can still afford to take some quality family time-and you can do it all on a dime. Here are some great ideas to keep your children entertained while you are at work, and some fun family activities, all of which we consider cheap or free!
- Have a camp out in your yard. If you can't take time off work this summer, take advantage of the great weather and go camping in your own backyard. Put away the electronics and enjoy nature with the convenience of your own bathroom being just a few feet away.
- Enjoy free movies. Many movie theaters today host free movies on weekday mornings. Ask your local theater for a schedule and get there early. Seats fill quickly!
- Go to a movie or concert in the park. Local resorts, ballparks, and recreation departments offer movies and concerts featuring local musicians. Check the local or neighborhood sections of your newspaper for more information. (Parkville has a free concert series in May and June)
- Be a tourist in your hometown. Get to know your town a little bit more by visiting the local (free!) museums and other attractions. You might be surprised by what you find.
- Have a family boot camp. Exercise isn't just good for your body, it's good for your soul too. Agree on an exercise as a family-whether it's karate, yoga, or strength training-and find instructional videos on YouTube. Participating as a family can help build self-esteem and make your family closer.
- Send the kids to church camp. Many churches offer free or cheap day camps for working parents. Even if you don't attend the church, this is a great opportunity to broaden your children's horizons and introduce them to different ways of thinking in addition to giving them an opportunity to meet new friends.
- Trade kids for a craft day. Work out an arrangement with another parent or two. Each household sponsors a craft day once a week for a month. One week, all the children visit your house and complete a craft you developed. The next week, it's another parent's turn.
- Visit the library. Free to residents, the library offers numerous programs to help keep kids busy. And even if you don't find a program that interests your child or your family, you just might find a few books you'll like!
- Redeem report card rewards. Bowling alleys, pizza joints, movie theaters and more offer free or discounted admissions for students who earned a high grade point average on their report card. Do some research and then redeem those rewards!
- Make your own water park. If you have grass available to you, set up sprinklers, fill up some squirt bottles and water balloons, lay out the camping tarp, and get the hose ready. Let your kids of all ages loose on a homemade water day.
Summer doesn't have to take a lot out of your pocketbook. It just takes a little bit of creativity and a little effort to find activities that the whole family can enjoy, while mom and dad enjoy a little budget relief. Have a great summer!