Summer has come upon us and while it is a time of fun and adventure, there will come a point where we have to scratch our heads and think, “What can I do that is cheap and will still capture my kids attention for more than three minutes?”
Having two girls, almost to their teenage years, my husband and I have become experts on how to do fun things on little to no budget. Here are our suggestions (in alphabetical order):
Fun Things To Do on a Budget
1. Bake and Decorate
If you decide you want to do cupcakes, I recommend doing the baking earlier in the morning. This saves on your energy bill as having the oven on in the middle of the day will cause the house to get hotter.
Once they are baked you will need to let them cool for a while anyways. After cooling, have a cupcake decorating contest. Or just let them have fun with their creations.
2. Ball in a Bucket
Had I thought about this I would have done it similar to Bozo the Clown's grand prize game, where the buckets were lined up in a row and you had to drop the ball in each of them. Ah – the memories.
Either way, you could set this one up to be a ball in the bucket or bowling. For extra fun, instead of using red solo cups, you could opt for plastic soda cups and add glow sticks to them to make it a fun game at night. The best part about this game is you can use whatever you have on hand.
3. Blow Bubbles
Bubbles are such fun for kids whether they are learning to blow bubbles using their mouth or they are letting the wind create the bubbles. My favorite part when I blow bubbles is catching them on the wand and using the solution to make more bubbles (and I swear it is not because I am cheap).
If you want to make your own, it is fairly simple: Pour 6 cups of water into a container, then add one cup of dish soap (dawn is best in my experience). Stir slowly until the soap is mixed into the water. The key here is to make sure not many bubbles fill up on top. Next, add a fourth of a cup of corn syrup to the solution and stir again. Pour into the jar you are keeping the bubbles in. Enjoy!
4. Go to a Car Show
It is always interesting to see what other people are doing with their passion and time. Car shows are no different. We have seen people who have purchased RVs from movies and people who have done really cool things to old beaters with their own two hands.
This particular show cost us ten dollars to get in and we spent all day at the show, the girls enjoying the park they had on site. Typically some restaurants will have drive-in nights as well. Drive-in nights bring different fun, such as pin-up girls (dressed tastefully) and cars on hydraulics.
Yes. Get your kids involved in chores. Kids as young as ten months old can help do things around the house, like put their toys away. As they get older, the more responsibility they can take on around the house. Doing them should give them a sense of pride knowing they are helping take care of their house.
Our summer routine consists of early morning chores outside and then lunch and either fun inside or anything we need to do in town that doesn't require being in the heat.
6. Wade in the Creek
Growing up, my friend from school lived a mile down the road. It was not unusual in the summer to hop on our bikes and go to her house where we would walk in the creek. I can remember cutting my foot in the water one time and, yet, we always went back for more!
Likewise, anytime we find a creek that is clear, I let my girls go wading. It's a great way to get outside and stay cool. One time we even found a creek that had an area that was as deep as a pool!
7. Go Fishing
Fishing is a fun activity that has a little bit of an upfront cost but after that can be completely free. If you want to go the cheaper route, you can get a hook and line, tie it to a pole and call it a day for your fishing pole. You can also opt to purchase a fishing pole, which I am sure could be found at a yard sale near you. We got our poles as Christmas gifts.
Some states or local areas also require a fishing license, though, sometimes you can go to places that do not require a license at all. Just check your state and local regulations.
Once those fees are paid up, you can go fishing as often as you like for nothing more than worms. Again, these can be purchased at even Walmart. When I was growing up though, my grandfather and I would dig them up ourselves. Saving him some change and this taught me to not be afraid to get my fingers dirty as I got older!
There are places to get seeds for free, or for a small price you can purchase your own. A bit more expensive is purchasing the plant when they are small. I opted for this one because it seemed easier at the time. Plus, I knew we would still benefit from having a plant that cost the equivelent of three tomatoes when it gives us twelve tomatoes.
If you don't have the space, I recommend container gardening.
This is a two-for-one deal as well because you can help your kids make recipes from the foods they grew, giving them something else to do and teaching them to like new and different foods.
9. Get Organized
If you are not a spring cleaner, then the summer is another great time to tidy up your home. With the kids out of school, it is a time when they can get involved too. Explain that cleaning the home and getting rid of old things allows for new things and new experiences to be brought into the home.
Turn on some music and make it a family event. If it's not something you think you can get accomplished in an amount of time to keep everyone motivated, then I recommend setting a timer. Just be sure to come back to it.
While you are going through your things I recommend having three piles: Keep, give away/donate, and yard sale.
10. Go Camping
My family tries to do this the weekend my girls and I get out of school. It's the perfect way to get away from life's responsibilities.
I am a firm believer that people do not realize everything that (most) children have on their plate – from sport or activities, to homework, friends and school. Camping allows families to take the time, reconnect, and focus on each other.
Plus, it is similar to fishing – a small upfront cost and then basically free. When my husband and I were first married we would camp in our station wagon. Now that the girls are around, we bought a tent. The cost of the campsite might even be free, if you do your research!
11. Go Exploring
This costs nothing more than some gas.
One of the most memorable experiences I ever had was the summer before our oldest went to kindergarden. We bought some gas and drove to Rehobeth Beach, Delaware (which was not too far from home). On the way we found a state park sign and decided to go there randomly.
When we got there, we found these light houses that we could go in. While walking in them we learned that they were built for a division of the Army. They had openings every two floors for them to look out of with just enough room to also set their guns out.
These were built to protect our land during wars. Why was this never in our history books?!
Pull out the grill and make something yummy. As with baking, it's hot out and cooking inside just makes it hotter.
Grilling outside does nothing to the already scorching temperatures. Plus, I don't know many people who do not like their food grilled.
Afterwards, I recommend S'mores.
13. Take Them Somewhere Historical
I was alive when the Oklahoma City Bombing happened. Although still in grade school, I can remember a lot about it and they days afterwards.
It was an honor last summer to take my girls there. Only two hours from our house, I am glad we got to go and I could tell my girls took something away from that somber experience.
As did I.
14. Go to the Library
The library is FREE. Plus they have so many great activities for all age ranges. Most libraries also have a summer reading event where they have different things to do several days a week and for each number of books a child reads, they get incentives.
Plus, it's one of those things to do that will keep you cooled off in the heat.
15. Go to the Park
Find a new park to explore. Even while on vacation, you never know when a park is going to offer hours of fun for the kids and a chance to re-coop for the adults.
16. Play Dress Up
This doesn't have to be an activity just for girls. Boys can get into their daddy's old clothes as well. We had a neighbor boy would would wear my daughter's mermaid costume and be a merman.
Also, don't be afraid to think outside of the box here. For example, I let the girls draw tattoos all over my body using washable markers. Both of them, to this day, still enjoy playing in makeup as well.
17. Play with Sparklers
This is one of those where I am going to recommend a purchase. Sparklers normally come with a purchase or two at the fireworks stand but they are fairly cheap on their own and they provide lots of fun for kids and adults alike. Plus, if you are better than I am, you might get a good shot or two!
18. Spend time with Grandparents
About the time school gets out it seems everyone is at each others throat. Spring is a stressful time as many of the school year activities comes to an end. Coming to an end means awards, banquets, concerts, and much more.
After enjoying the camp, many times my husband and I take the girls to either my parents' house or to his parents' house. Since the two grandparents live close to each other, they trade off after about a week and a half.
This gives our children a chance to spend bonding time with their grandparents and us time with each other and no children. Then we can come back to together with a fresh prespective on things!
Tye Dying is so much fun and making the colors with each family member match means they can create their own style and still have picture worthy memories. Plus it lets kids get messy and no kid can argue with that!
21. Go to a U-pick Farm
U-pick farms are a fun way to get kids out in the fresh air and encourage them to try new foods as well. I recommend going earlier in the day so it is not too hot.
If you do not have a u-pick farm, maybe call a local farm (that is not a commercial farm) and ask if you and your family could come to the farm and volunteer. It is rewarding for everyone.
22. Take Naps
What a great time to get caught up on sleep and after all that excitement, who can blame them?
No matter what you decide to do this summer, get out and have some fun. There is so much to see, explore, and do! You never know what adventure is around the corner if you just go for it!