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10 Ideas for Summer Fun on a Budget

Summer is by far my favourite season of the year. I love hot sunny days at the beach, warm evenings on the deck, and the never-ending outdoor activity options. Having said that, it can also be one of the most expensive seasons when you have children to keep busy. If this is on your mind, I have 10 strategies that you can make incredible memories with your little ones this summer while sticking to a budget. Feel free to leave comments below with any additional ideas you have! We can all learn from each other.

  1. Picnic Lunches. Going out to eat can be very expensive but packing a picnic lunch is a great way to get out of the house for a meal without breaking the bank. And the bonus is that you can be active as a family before or after at a park or on a hike or bike ride!
  2. Nature Scavenger Hunts. This is one that you can keep close to home in your yard or you can head to a local park or forest. Have your children wait while you hide small toys from the dollar store, coins, a small item from your own toy collection, or even Easter eggs filled with berries or another small snack. Then, depending on their age, you can let them look on their own or you can give them fun clues. This is also a wonderful activity for a summer birthday party!
  3. Cardboard Box Crafts. My boys are always over the moon excited when deliveries come. They LOVE cardboard boxes for creating rocket ships, costumes, forts, and more! If you don’t have deliveries coming regularly you can get lots of cardboard boxes from Costco or other grocery or hardware stores.
  4. Beach Days. This is one of our favourite family activity. If you have a beach within driving distance, there is nothing like a day filled with playing in the sand and water with little ones. If you don’t then you can create your own beach fun by digging in the garden and letting the kids run through a backyard sprinkler! And don’t forget to tie #1 and #2 together…picnics are perfect for the beach!
  5. Bible School Camps. Day camps are  a great way for children to be physically active, have social time with new and old friends, and learn new things. They also can be quite expensive. Vacation Bible School Camps tend are often free or a very low cost. Some are half days and some are full days. Watch for one or more in your area for your children to attend.
  6. Neighbourhood Pools. If you do not have a pool of your own, perhaps you could offer to help a neighbour with yard work, house sitting, or child care in exchange for using their pool a few times throughout the summer.
  7. Date Night Kid Exchanges. Date nights are important all year long, but I find we need them even more in the summer since the kids are home more than usual. If you don’t have family members in town one way to eliminate the cost of a babysitter is to offer to ask friends to watch your kids for the night every other week, and then have their kids to your house on the nights in between.
  8. Family Sleep Overs. Overnight getaways are really special, but not always in the budget. You can create your own “overnight” fun by setting everyone up on cots or in sleeping bags in the family room or in a tent in the back yard. Play board games, set out fun snacks, and create memories that you will all cherish for a lifetime!
  9. Create a Toy Store. Are your kids always asking for new toys? Have a little fun with this. At the start of summer pack 80% of their toys away. Offer them money (you can use fake money) for various tasks you would like done around the house….even 2 year olds can help dust or pull weeds! Then, anytime they wish they had a new toy, you can let them buy back one from the “Family Basement Store”. Kids are always excited about a toy they haven’t played with for a while and they won’t care that it isn’t completely new.
  10. Head to a Local Farmer’s Market. Farmers markets are an amazing place to spend a Saturday morning. You can teach children about where food comes from and local food options while getting your groceries done. You may even be able to head home and make a recipe from the food you buy!

I hope this gives you a few new ideas for the summer ahead. And remember, kids really don’t need anything fancy….more than anything, they just want time with YOU!

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