The temperatures are rising, the days are getting longer and the sun is shining brighter. That can only mean one thing: summer vacation is near. Kids everywhere are gearing up for summer break. No school, sleeping in, lazy days filled with games, fun and relaxation. While summer vacation is a much needed break from daily routines, many parents find that it can put a large dent in the pocketbook if they aren't careful. Camps, sports, vacations and other activities add up quickly. Many American families are in a financial position that doesn't allow for extra spending this summer.
Don't worry! The kids can still have a great summer of fun with these activities that have little impact on the earth or on your bank account.
If you have a pool, your kids probably spend hours splashing and playing in it. Instead of buying all new floatation toys and water guns, reuse the ones you have or look for gently used toys at garage sales. These can be found for very little money and your kids will never know the difference.
To save water this summer, encourage the kids to water the plants and garden while they are playing with squirt guns or other water play. Set time limits for having the hose running, or ask them to use only pool water to fill and refill water equipment.
Check Out the Library
Even the smallest communities undoubtedly have a public library. It's important for kids of all ages to keep reading over the summer and continue to develop an appreciation for books. Check into any summer reading programs offered by the library and enroll your kids. Summer reading programs are usually creative and fun, and best of all, free. If the library doesn't offer programs, you can still regularly bring your kids to browse and borrow books, use the computers and maybe interact with other kids.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Take advantage of any state or local parks, beaches and trails this summer. Let them explore and take in the beauty that nature provides- free of charge. You might be surprised at how kids become engaged with the ordinary things like rocks, sand, trees or leaves.
Create a summer challenge for older kids like visiting all the waterfalls in the area or hiking a predetermined number of miles. Help the kids map routes or track accomplishments on a visual chart. Set goals and celebrate accomplishments with treats or other special rewards.
Your kids can still enjoy a bit of the outdoors without leaving your home. Let them explore and play in the backyard to see what develops. If you have a tent, you can assemble it in your backyard and let them roast marshmallows. Young kids are often enamored with their own environment. Give them the time to see, hear, smell and touch all that summer has to offer.
Get creative with crafts this summer. Instead of going to the craft store and spending too much on pre-made craft kits or unnecessary supplies, use what you have around the house instead. Help the kids make bird houses out of old milk containers or bug homes from canned goods. Use sticks and stones to inspire crafts projects like rock painting or nest building. A successful craft project does not have to require glitter, sequins or foam shapes. Display their artworks so they'll be inspired to make more.
Enlist the Neighbors
Get the neighbors and their kids on board. Perhaps each neighbor can plan one special event during the summer like a scavenger hunt, obstacle course or a family competition with relay games. Or perhaps a neighborhood camp-out where you pitch tents and make a campfire. It could also be as simple as a movie marathon. If you want to teach the bigger kids how to earn money, you can help them come up with a lemonade stall. With a little planning, you can give your kids an exciting summer to remember.
Offer to swap kids with a neighbor on a regular basis for some adult time with your spouse without paying a sitter.
Summer is short and it goes by quickly. Make the best of it by putting family time at the top of the list. Kids will remember the special events and activities, not the amount of money that was spent. Take advantage of the gifts nature gives us and enjoy the summer to its fullest.
Jessica Bosari is a freelance writer and blogger for various publications and her ownblog. You can read more of Jessica's work here. If you have any comments or questions about SavingTools or about saving money, leave your comments in the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!