The summer season is here and along with it comes summer vacation for school-age children. Moms are now responsible for coming up with the ideas and curriculum for their kids and I’m the first to admit that by summer my creative juices have almost run out. How can you make summer another time of fun and enjoyment instead of boredom? And how do you do this on a budget? There are lots of great things you can do this summer and ways to stay organized while doing it. Here are some of Mom Advice’s tips for surviving the summer:
Instead of taking a long vacation in the summer, break up your vacation into smaller, more affordable activities. Some suggestions are to visit zoos, amusement parks, local festivals, and museums. By taking smaller vacations, you have a few things to look forward to instead of just one event. Check out some books from your local library on activities you can do within your own state, and then do your research on how to get the best price. Talk about your vacation plans with friends and see if they know of any places that are cheap to stay or where you can get coupons for money off tickets. Also ask your library if they offer season passes that you can take advantage of. One of our local libraries had an art museum pass that library patrons could check out during the day and get free admission to local museums and galleries. We check these out and save thirty bucks every time we come to one of these places. Call ahead though because you may be competing with another family for the same day.
If you’re planning a vacation in another state or even within your own state, visit the state’s visitors’ bureau website for an information packet and coupons for the state. For example, we were planning a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio, so I requested that the visitors’ bureau send me an information packet. Inside this packet of information was a gold mine of amusement park coupons, including free buy one get one tickets, which saved us over twenty-five dollars.
With the summer season comes a whole new set of things you’ll need to stock up on. With the kids home from school, now it’s up to you to come up with creative lunches and snacks for the kids. Try to keep the refrigerator stocked with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grain breads, meats, and cheeses so you can make sandwiches quickly and avoid wasting money on self-service. Having items on hand that kids can make themselves will also take some of the pressure off of providing the food.
A great way to save time cleaning up after meals is to take advantage of the nice weather and dine al fresco. Our family eats a lot outside on our patio furniture, which makes cleanup easy. However, when it’s just my son and I, we eat outside on a “picnic style” plastic mat. We love doing this and the mat only requires a quick shake and clean up is a breeze.
We also bought a small cooler lunch box for our day trips which is a great investment for the family. We take it everywhere and fill it up with lunch or snacks for the day while we’re out and about. Filling this up with healthy snacks and food will save you money and save you an unhealthy trip to the drive-thru when you’re on one of your day trips or just running errands. This cooler can also be used when grocery shopping to keep your ice cream and meats at cool temperatures.
Another great purchase for your car is a car seat organizer where you can store books and toys for the kids, as well as diapers, wipes, and maps to get you to your destination. Don’t forget to pack a towel to brush up on after those trips to the beach, too.
A children’s pool and sandpit can be a great summer investment for younger children too. My son spends hours playing in his sandbox and wading pool and the investment was small compared to the hours of fun he can get from these. If a family member is looking for a gift this summer for a birthday or just because, suggest buying one of these items so you don’t have to pay for them yourself. We ordered these items for our son’s birthday and also used our anniversary money to purchase a family pass to the zoo for the summer.
Don’t forget to stock up on all those fun summer toys for the kids to play outside. You can stock up on many of your fun summer items at your local Dollar Store. We bought sidewalk chalk, sandbox tools and toys, bubbles and squirt guns. They offer a wide variety of fun summer toys that won’t break the bank. You can also make a couple of these yourself with these recipes.
Super paint for sidewalks
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
6-8 drops of food coloring
Directions: Mix cornstarch and cold water in a small plastic bowl. Add food coloring and stir. Repeat this process to create different colors of Super Sidewalk Paint. Super Sidewalk Paint can be easily washed off with water
1 cup of flour
1 cup used ground coffee
½ cup of salt
¼ cup of sand
¾ cup of water
Directions: Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Slowly add water and knead until the mixture is the consistency of bread dough. Break off a piece of dough and roll it into the size of a baseball. Make a hole in the center of the ball big enough to hide treasures. Fill the hole with treasures and seal with some extra dough. Let your treasure stone air dry for two to three days or until hard or bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 150 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes. If you wish to tin your Treasure Stone, add a tablespoon of powdered tempera paint to tint.
Water Balloon Yo-Yo
1 small balloon
1 large gum
Instructions: Cut the elastic band in half. Tie a loop securely at one end of the elastic band. It should be big enough to fit around your finger. Use a garden hose or water faucet to fill the balloon ¼ full with water. Blow air into the balloon until it is the size of a tennis ball. Tie the balloon closed. Tightly tie the elastic band around the knot on the balloon. Place the loop of the elastic band around your middle finger and gently pull the balloon towards the ground. When the balloon jumps into your hand, try to catch it.
Rainy days during the summer can be particularly difficult for both children and parents. A great way to make these days go by faster is to have plenty of craft supplies on hand. You can also print free printable coloring pages and crafts via http://www.dltk-kids.com/. We have plenty of construction paper, play dough, crayons, and coloring books on hand for fun and creative activities throughout the day.
Keep in mind that your library can be a wonderful summer resource for your family. Obviously, the library offers a lot of great summer reading to get you through those rainy days, but try to look beyond the literature and ask your children’s librarian what types of summer reading and activities they offer. I still remember when I was a kid that the library offered a great summer reading program that worked in conjunction with our local Pizza Hut, where we received stars for meeting reading goals that could be used toward food at the restaurant. This motivated me so much as a child that I read many more books than I had anticipated. Setting reading goals over the summer can be very rewarding for children. Be sure to ask your child’s teacher for a reading list of books they should be reading in preparation for the next grade. If your child isn’t reading yet, be sure to take advantage of this time to read to him. It really is amazing the power that literature has on our minds and on speech development.
Don’t go over schedule
For whatever reason, many parents tend to go overboard with summer classes and activities. I remember how much I enjoyed running through the sprinklers, buying ice cream or going to the park as a child. I don’t remember so clearly the classes I took or the activities my parents had paid for. It is so important to allow our children to be children! Kids really remember the little outings you take with them, and often these outings and the time you spend with them have a bigger impact than four weeks of camp.
Remember that this is your summer vacation. I know I don’t enjoy having every minute of my vacation booked with things to do; Similarly, children enjoy having downtime. Try to keep this in mind when you sign them up for various summer programs. Allowing your child to choose one or two activities over the summer may be more manageable for both you (the driver) and your child.
Most importantly, enjoy your summer to the fullest… Whether it’s long lazy days by the kiddie pool or a fun-filled summer filled with excursions and activities, try to make it a summer to remember. I am filling my son’s scrapbook this summer with all the wonderful things we have gotten to do. I always think I will remember each and every moment with him: the smells of grilling sausages, the sand between our toes as we played for hours in his sandbox, or his sweet face full of fascination with small crawling insects. on his swing set, but too fast he’s gone. Put your pen to paper this summer and lovingly write down those memories so that one day you and your child can remember the beauty of that hot summer of your youth and all you shared together during those wonderful months.