School's Out for Summer!
Who doesn’t love the feeling of being free from a strict schedule for a few months?
Me!! Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good day or two of unstructured living, but after that, let’s get productive and organized people! So, as you can imagine, having the kids home for summer break can get unruly, not to mention expensive. Water parks and museums are fun, and maybe we could do them occasionally, but we wanted to use our time to try new things, enjoy a change of scenery, and not break the bank. You’d be surprised how little money you need to spend to enjoy great quality of life with kids! I’ve learned some great tricks over the years to help us stay on budget, yet have an enjoyable and adventurous summer!
The first thing I would do, is go to the Dollar Tree, buy a few poster boards. The kids and I would list all the things we wanted to do over the summer. I don’t know one parent that likes the words “I’m bored,” so we hung the board in the kitchen, then all I had to do…is point!
The lists would include… 1. Names friends they wanted to have over, 2. Places we wanted to visit, and 3. Activities they could do at home.
Taking time to write down things that bring you and your kids quality of life (ie: seeing certain friends, going on a picnic, or learning a fun new skill) brings those thoughts that may just be in your head to reality. Once it’s on the board—it’s much more likely you are going to make it happen!
In financial planning, we see this too. So many people have goals or things they’ve always wanted to do with their money, but never take action. Could be remodeling a bathroom, taking a trip, or even opening up a Roth IRA. Sitting down with a financial planner and talking about these things will hopefully inspire you to break out of the repetitiveness of life and take action towards accomplishing things that will make you happy! Much like it’s easy for kids to complain about being “bored” in the summer, it’s equally as easy to constantly complain about your bathroom needing an update, and never doing anything about it (even if you have the money saved!).
So, we wanted to do something about it! However, we didn’t want to be “going” all the time. We also make it a priority to enjoy the slower pace of summer. I wanted them to recognize the joy of being still, yet not sitting on electronics (we’ve all had enough of that, right?!) A few activities that made the list:
- Learning how to knit
- Writing a letter to mail to Grandma
- Learning to juggle
- Making your own Shrinky dinks
- Teaching the dog new tricks
- Trying the Rubik’s cube
- Learning to recite the books of the bible
- Doing origami
- Planting and tend to a garden
- Having a lemonade stand
- Playing with chalk
- Building an obstacle course
- Making picnic lunch
- Slip n’ slide
- Hunting for insects
- Activity and coloring pages
- Washing the cars (as a parent, this one is my personal favorite)
- Learning how to make homemade bread, pretzels or fruit pizza
- And so many more!
Here's my kiddos hunting for insects! Gosh, they were adorable (the bugs coming in the house...not so much).
The library was a main attraction for our family. I would let them pick out as many books at any reading level they wanted; it was simply about loving to read. I bought them each bookmark timers so they could keep track of their reading time and their time would equal money. That way when we went to the store, they could purchase their own, hard earned toy themselves.
We found free concerts in local parks were a big hit for our family, along with water features at local parks, beaches, volunteering in nursing homes, cleaning up local parks, walking the neighbor’s dog, host a carnival in your backyard for the neighbor kids, and nature reserves and parks. All are inexpensive or free!
Having the kids home for summer break is enjoyable, but it also challenges us as parents to be creative and maximize quality of life with the kids at home. I found being organized and getting the kids involved, set us up for a successful summer. I hope the same is true for you!