Now that school is over for the year, your kids have a lot of time on their hands. Without the day-to-day interaction with peers that they have during the school year, they will likely be complaining of boredom after the novelty of sleeping in and lounging around the house wears off. With friends going on vacation and summer camp throughout the summer, it can be hard to just send the kids out into the neighborhood to play.
I’ve been making a list of free and low-cost things to do to keep the kids occupied without relying on video games or television too much. Here are a few things I’ve come up with:
- Reading challenges at the library. Each summer, our library chooses a theme and puts on special programs and offers prizes for kids who read a certain number of books. One year, it was a circus theme, and programs of juggling acts, workshops on clown makeup and tickets to the circus at the end of the summer. Barnes and Noble also does summer reading challenges. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal and they will give you a free book. Go to here to find out the details
- The community pool. We don’t have a pool of our own, but thankfully there’s a recreation center a few miles away. For about $2 per person, we can spend the whole day lounging and swimming if we want to.
- Mom co-ops. One year, several moms pooled resources and took turns entertaining and teaching everyone’s children. We had an art class, a science camp, singing lessons and a fun-and-games day. Each mom can teach and entertain one day per week for the whole summer, or each can volunteer to take the kids each day for a full week. This works very well for moms who work part-time, as they can have some free time while the kids are occupied and supervised by trustworthy parents.
- Set-in-stone park or beach days. My group of friends has set aside every Tuesday afternoon as park day; there are about eight of us, so even if one or two families can’t make it for some reason, the others all know to meet at a certain park at 2:00 pm. It gives the kids (and the moms) friend-time to look forward to.
- Kid-swaps. Let’s face it, summertime can be stressful for moms, with the kids hanging about all day long. Find a friend with similarly aged kids, and offer to take hers one afternoon per week, and she can take yours another afternoon. This gives the kids two weekly playdates, and gives you a block of free time to get your grocery shopping or cleaning done, or to simply take a nap!
- Find a student if you need low-cost tutoring. If your child is behind in a particular subject or if she’d like to pick up a new skill, from crocheting to French, a high school or college student home for the summer might be looking for a way to make some money. They won’t charge the same fees as a private tutor, but should still be able to pass on valuable knowledge to your child.
How do you plan on keeping your kids occupied and enriched this summer? Share your best ideas!