For school-aged kids in the US, summertime is the best time of the year. After 9 months of intense learning, having a multi-month break from school is just the thing any kid needs — or at least, it was for me. And given the lockdowns and shifts to online learning driven by the pandemic, it’s more likely than ever that kids are just looking for a break from it all. Fortunately, while this isn’t the case everywhere in the world, some locations are starting to open up again, giving these newly-freed kids even more to look forward to now that it’s summer.
With that said, summer vacation isn’t necessarily a relaxing time for everyone in the family. For parents, in particular, finding ways to entertain kids for a whole summer can seem like a daunting task. And, it can be expensive to boot.
If you’re looking for simple ways to entertain kids on a budget, we’ve got your back. Here are some ways you can spend time with the kids on a budget this summer.
1. Go to the library
This is a no-brainer! Libraries are an all-around great way to kill an afternoon or free evening when the kids are around. Getting a library card is free, and oftentimes, libraries offer more than just books. Many have DVDs, magazines, and even board games. Your local library may also host events or classes where you can learn new things and connect with other folks in your community (which you can choose to attend based on your comfort level surrounding reopenings).
Plus, going to the library will inspire you and your kids to pick up more books to read over the summer. To make reading more fun, try turning it into a game or contest. Start a reading marathon to see who can read the most books. Or, see who can read the most books during the whole summer. The winner gets to choose what’s for dinner!
2. Spend time outside
There are truly a million things you can do outside (I’m exaggerating only a little), so this works for kids both young and old! From exploring your neighborhood on foot or on bikes, to hiking or gardening, there’s sure to be something your whole family can enjoy together. And it goes without saying that a little exercise is always a plus.
Take advantage of hiking trails in your area for some free, easy fun. Or, if you live in a relatively flat area, you might enjoy breaking out the bikes that have been collecting dust in your garage. If you have space in your backyard, set up some sprinklers to turn a regular evening into a pseudo pool party.
No matter what it is, heading outdoors will keep the whole family entertained for hours and give you all a healthy dose of vitamin D.
3. Go to a museum (if they’re open in your area)
Museums can be costly. Depending on the museum, admission may run as much as $50 per person, which may knock museum-going off a list of potential summer diversions. But not so fast! Many museums offer free or low-cost admissions on a specific day of the week, usually a day where they wouldn’t normally see a lot of foot traffic. So, if you can make it to the museum on that Tuesday or Wednesday, it might be worth going. You may have to deal with larger crowds (again, take your comfort level into consideration), but your wallet will thank you. You can also take a look in your area to see if you have any free or low-cost public museums around. Some libraries have museum exhibits that are generally free if you have a library card, and those can be a great way to spend a day without breaking the bank.
4. Learn an instrument
Do your kids have a musical ear? During the summertime, kids may have the time and mental space to invest in learning an instrument. And, you can easily make learning a family affair by finding free lessons on YouTube that you all can enjoy. Granted, you will have to invest in the instrument in order to make this happen, if you don’t already have an instrument laying around. But you might check online or at a local thrift store for second-hand instruments that won’t break the bank.
Alternatively, if you already know how to play an instrument, spend the summer teaching them. That way, you’ll spend time together, and pass on your valuable knowledge to the next generation.
With these simple and low-cost ideas, you’ll have a fun-filled summer that’s also easy on your wallet.