It’s the middle of summer…now what?
So, here we are in early August, and the kids are saying, “I’m Bored!” in that all-too-familiar tone. So, now what? Let’s see if some of these ideas help Mom and Dad out!
Locating great deals on entertainment for your kids is always a challenge, especially during the summer months. Trying to find something that your entire crew will enjoy, that also doesn’t break the bank, is extra difficult in the summertime. There are plenty of fun things that you CAN do, with a little searching.
VISIT YOUR LIBRARY
Well, this seems like a no-brainer. You can visit your local library, read a sweet book, and see what fabulous free offerings they have! Several things I’ve seen and enjoyed at my library:
- Summer Reading Fun: The summer reading programs at libraries are fabulous. Not only do they encourage summer reading, but they are also such fun-complete with fun book logs, reading hours, charts, book suggestions, stickers, rewards, and more.
- Free/Affordable classes: Most libraries offer summer classes for children. Everything from art projects to book-themed events can be found. Check your local library’s children’s department.
- Passes to Museums, Zoos, and More: Passes are often available to sign out to go to local Museums and Gardens for free! This can include local museums, events, theatre, concerts, zoos, gardens, and more. Many libraries also offer free passes to some larger museums and events in the nearest city to your location.
- Free Movie Screenings: Many libraries offer fabulous, free film viewings. Check your local branch for listings. It’s perfect for a rainy or too-hot summer day!
PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
One of the best ways to kill a few fun hours in the summer is a fun visit to a playground or a park. Bring a blanket, sunblock, plenty of drinks/water, snacks like sliced watermelon, etc. I like to bring my children to parks and playgrounds in other nearby towns. One town near to me has a playground with a huge sandbox. Another town has a playground shaped like a pirate ship. Spray playgrounds are a blast! It’s a nice change of pace. Visit towns that have great resources and enjoy them! Line up playdates with a fellow parent and meet at a fun new location. Explore free parks together. Seek out local rose gardens, botanical gardens, and more. Most of these options are completely free, and others can be free by securing tickets through your local library.
BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED
Pay a visit your local recreation center and seek out fun camps and classes. Many towns offer affordable options that are perfect for parents in these hot summer months. Look for everything from day camps, tennis lessons, golf lessons, art classes, dance or yoga classes, baseball camps, soccer camps, and more.
- Enjoy your town POOL and all that it has to offer! Most pools offer swimming lessons-a life skill that is not only fun, but it keeps your children safe and fit. My children usually run into friends from school, and they also make some new friends, too. Pools also offer swim teams. These are a great way for children (and their parents) to make friends, gain sportsmanship tools, and the major bonus is strengthening those swimming skills.
- Check your local parish or temple and see if they offer VBS, aka “vacation bible school”. They are local, free or affordable, and offer some simple biblical lessons in a fun way. One year, my children were enrolled in a rock-n-roll one, another year the theme was “sports”. It certainly can’t hurt to learn to be kind and to share, right? Also check out your local Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, local community colleges, YMCA or YMHA. If you have a child with special needs, contact your community and schools for some terrific offerings.
OTHER FUN IDEAS
- Beach Day: If you are lucky like me, a beach or lake is within a short drive of your home. A simple day at the beach is always a lovely minivacation. I like to head out after breakfast. We drive the one hour to the beach, then enjoy a little ocean breeze, followed by a simple pizza and ice cream cone. Search for lighthouses and aquariums to explore. Remember to bring extra sunblock!
- Book Stores: Visit your local book store. Ask them if they have a free reading hour or any other events. Enjoy browsing while your children participate in a reading/craft event.
- Stores: Many stores near you may offer free or affordable shorter craft camps and events. One that comes to mind is the Apple Stores Tech camps. Another is Home Depot. Just ask!
- The 10 Buck Cruise: Something I really enjoy, is taking my children on a ride on the commuter ferry around Brooklyn. We call it our 10 buck cruise, because as my daughter said, “Mom, we went on a cruise for less than ten bucks!”. My kids all enjoy a simple, cool ride on the ferry-from the first to the last stop, there and back. Followed up with a walk by the water, it’s a lovely day. Keep in mind that younger children are usually free on ferries and subways. If you have a city near you with ferry service, the ten buck cruise is certainly worth a try.
- Movie Theatre Fun: Check if your local movie theatre has free children’s films during the summer. Most do have these offered, and it’s a great way to cool down with your kids (and babies!) during the long summer.
- Shakespeare in the Park: Hello culture! Most areas (and some high schools and local theatres) offer free Shakespeare outdoors during the summer. Don’t be afraid to try this fun outing, even with very young children. The actors on stage are used to (and expecting) a little noise and moving around. Briefly talk to your children about “theatre rules”, and enjoy it! You’ll be amazed by how much they understand and enjoy!
- Free Concerts: Contact your local community and find out if they offer free outdoor concerts in your town. Check other nearby towns, too. Grab some chairs and a blanket, and introduce your wee ones to rock, blues, Broadway, and more.
- Bowling: Some bowling alleys have summer specials, including “kids bowl free” at some locations. Check it out for sure!
- Hikes: My kids (and kids of all ages, including teens) enjoy a unique hike. Map it out, grab your compass, cameras, bug spray, sunblock, and create a day!
- Grow a garden: I love creating a veggie garden with my kids. I go to my local gardening shop and grab veggies that are already started. Then my kids help me plant them, adding labels we make ourselves. Grab gardening gloves, a watering can, etc. Fun AND delicious!
- Fishing: Find a local fishing spot and enjoy it. Make sure that you have your state fishing license ready to go.
- Camping: Some of my friends swear by camping. Yearly they head out to the woods to unique camping sites. Armed with gear for days, they enjoy some quality family time at a great price!
Enjoy some fun right in your own corner of the world.
- Take a family bike ride. Find local bike trails and see where they lead you!
- Plan and cook a fancy meal together. Set your table up in a theme, complete with recipes from around the world!
- Design a huge chalk design on your driveway. You can outline the design, the kids can fill it in!
- Set up a sprinkler and ice pops extravaganza in the backyard with some local buddies.
- Build a rainy-day tent fort, complete with popcorn and board games!
KEEPING SUMMER SWEET
We all know that summertime can be exhausting, but I do hope that some of these ideas spark a little fun for you to share with your tin loves this summer! Remember, the best fun is time shared with Mom and Dad. So dig in, find that inner kid, and enjoy!
Jennifer Montague is a NYC based Actress, Writer, and Mom to four awesome kids! Writing work includes the Mom’s Choice gold award-winning book series for children, Muriel’s World; The Irish Times; “Peppermint Dreams”-a free Podcast just for kids; the children’s musical recording, Peas, and Honey; and more. She is in two upcoming feature films: A Case of Blue; and Bully.