Have More Fun this Summer!
By Amy Allen Clark
The summer season is here and along with it comes summer vacation for the school-aged kids. Moms are now responsible for coming up with the ideas and curriculum for their children and I am the first to admit that by the summer my creative juices have just about run out. How can you make summer another time of fun and enjoyment rather than boredom? And just how do you do this on a budget? There are lots of great things that you can do this summer and ways to keep organized when doing it. Here are a few of Mom Advice's suggestions for summer survival:
Rather than taking one long vacation in the summer, break your vacations into smaller and more affordable activities. Some suggestions are hitting area zoos, amusement parks, local festivals, and museums. By taking smaller vacations, you have a few things to look forward to rather than just one event. Check out some books from your local library on activities that you can do within your own state and then 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 less expensive or have coupons/discounts available. Ask your library as well if they offer any season passes that you can take advantage of. One of our local libraries had a pass to the art museum which library patrons could check out for the day gaining free admittance into the local museums and galleries. We checked these out and saved thirty dollars every time we visited one. Call in advance though because you may be competing with another family for the same day.
If you are planning a vacation to another state or even within your own state, visit the state's visitor's bureau website to get a packet of information and coupons for the state. For example, we were planning a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio so I requested a packet of information to be sent to me by the visitor's bureau. Within this packet of information was a gold mine of coupons for the amusement park including buy one get one free admissions which saved us over twenty-five dollars.
With the summer season comes a whole new set of things that you will need to be stocked up on. With children home from school, you are now the one who is to come up with the creative lunches and snacks for the kids. Try and keep the fridge well-stocked with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grain breads, meats, and cheeses so that you can quickly make sandwiches and can avoid spending money at the drive-thru. Having items on hand that children can make themselves will also take some pressure off of you for providing the meal.
A great way to save time on cleaning up after your meals is by taking advantage of the pleasant weather and dining outside. Our family does a lot of eating outside on our patio, which makes for easy clean-up. When it is just my son and I though, we eat outside on a plastic mat "picnic-style". We love to do this and the mat only requires a quick shake and clean-up is a breeze.
We also purchased a small cooler lunchbox for our day trips out which is a great investment for the family. We take this everywhere and fill it with the day's lunch or snacks while we are out. Filling this with healthy snacks and food will save you money as well as saving you from a less than healthy trip to the drive-thru when you are out on one of your day trips or just running errands. This cooler can also be used when grocery shopping for keeping your ice cream and meats at cool temperatures.
Another great purchase for your car is a seat organizer where you can stick books and toys in for the kids as well as diapers, wet wipes, and maps to get to your destination. Don't forget to pack a towel for brushing off after those trips to the beach.
A kiddie pool and sandbox can be a great investment for the summer for the younger kids. My son spends hours playing in his sandbox and kiddie pool and the investment was small compared to the hours of enjoyment 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. We asked for these items for our son's birthday and also used our anniversary money to put towards a family zoo pass for the summer.
Don't forget to stock up on all of those fun summer toys for the kids to play with outside. You can stock up on a lot of your fun summer items over at the local Dollar Store. We purchase sidewalk chalk, sandbox tools and toys, bubbles, and water 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 Sidewalk Paint:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
6-8 drops of food coloring
Directions: Mix cornstarch and cold water together 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 easily be washed away with water.
1 cup flour
1 cup used coffee grinds
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sand
3/4 cup water
Directions: Mix all dry ingredients together 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 in. Fill the hole with treasures and seal with some extra dough. Let your treasure stone air dry for two or three days or until hard or bake in the oven on a cookie sheet at 150 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes. If you would like to tin your Treasure Stone, add one tablespoon of powder tempera paint to tint.
Water Balloon Yo-Yo:
1 small balloon
1 large rubber band
Directions: Cut the rubber band in half. Tie a loop securely on one end of the rubber band. It should be big enough to fit around your finger. Use a garden hose or water faucet to fill the balloon 1/4 of the way with water. Blow air into the balloon until it is the size of a tennis ball. Tie the balloon shut. Securely tie the rubber band around the knot on the balloon. Place the rubber band loop around your middle finger and gently throw the balloon toward the ground. When the balloon springs back toward your hand, try to grab it.
Rainy days during the summer can be particularly difficult for children and parents alike. A great way to make these days go by quicker is by keeping lots of craft supplies on hand. You can also print out free printable coloring pages and crafts online. We keep lots of construction paper, playdough, crayons, and coloring books on hand for fun and creative activities during the day.
Keep in mind that your library can be a wonderful summer resource for your family. Obviously, the library offers lot of great summer reading to help you get through those rainy days, but try to look past just the literature and ask your children's librarian what types of summer reading and activities they offer. I still remember as a child 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 towards food at the restaurant. This motivated me so much as a child that I read many more books then I had anticipated. Setting reading goals during the summer can be very rewarding for children. Make sure to ask your child's teacher for a reading list of books that they should be reading in preparation for the next grade. If your child is not reading yet, be sure to take advantage of this time to read to them. It truly is amazing the power literature has on our minds and speech development.
Don't Over Schedule
For some reason many parents tend to go overboard on the summer classes and activities. I remember as a child how much I enjoyed just running around through the sprinklers, getting ice cream, or taking a trip to the park. I do not remember as clearly the classes that I took or the activities that my parents had paid for. It is so important to allow our kids to be kids! Kids really do remember the little outings that you do with them and often these outings and time spent with them have a greater impact than four weeks of summer camp.
Remember that this is their summer vacation. I know that I do not enjoy having every single minute of my vacation booked with things to do; likewise children enjoy having some downtime. Try to keep this in mind when signing them up for various summer programs. Maybe allowing your child to pick one or two activities during the summer will be more manageable for both you (the driver) and your child.
Most importantly, enjoy your summer to its fullest! Whether it is long lazy days of lounging by the kiddie pool or a fun-filled summer, chock full of day trips and activities - try to make it a summer to remember. I am filling my son's memory book up this summer of all the wonderful things we have gotten to do. I always think that I will remember each and every moment with him - the smells of the hot dogs on the grill, the sand between our toes as we play for hours in his sandbox, or his sweet face full of fascination at the tiny bugs crawling on his swing set, but all too quickly it is gone. Put your pen to paper this summer and lovingly write those memories down so someday you and your child can reminisce over the beauty of that hot summer of his youth and all that you shared together during those wonderful months.
More tips on summer fun
Amy Clark is a stay-at-home mother of a two-year old son. She is founder and creator of momadvice.com . Her web site is geared towards mothers who are seeking advice on staying organized, living on a budget, and for those seeking work-at-home employment. The author resides in Granger, Indiana and her hobbies include reading, writing, cooking and cake decorating. Please visit her web site for more information on these various topics for mothers and be sure to join the forum where your opinions and ideas count.
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