Have loads of summer fun without breaking the bank!
Written by: Kristina M. Teeter
With the true start of summer upon us and the kids out of school, we are all trying to plan that “perfect” summer for our families. We are blessed to live in Florida where summer comes easy. This summer our family has decided to switch things up and limit the number of costly activities we do. Instead, we are looking for free or inexpensive ways to create some magical summer memories. We have decided to do this not just in an effort to save money (while that is certainly a plus), but to help our children see that we can make fun memories just about anywhere!
I have compiled some of the “budget friendly” ideas that our family will be adding to our summer bucket list . Feel free to steal some fun to add to your family’s list.
PLAYING OUTSIDE– While the summer heat can sometimes make it hard to spend a lot of time outside, I am hoping to get my kids outside each day for a dose of vitamin D. Swimming is one of our favorite outdoor activities and we have already made several trips to the pool. If you can’t make it to the pool, set up a sprinkler or have a water balloon toss in your backyard. Blowing bubbles and sidewalk chalk are also kid favorites. Our family likes to take family walks when we can. We try to do them early in the morning or right after dinner when its not so hot. We sometimes play “I Spy” on our walks or turn them into nature walks. Makes for good exercise too!
MOVIE NIGHT– There is nothing our daughter likes more than having a movie night! Right now Zootopia and Inside Out are on her must watch list. We are hoping to have several movie nights this summer. Our daughter likes to build a pillow and blanket fort and cuddle up with her favorite snacks. We recently introduced her to the “Wizard of Oz” and she loved it! That got me thinking… why not “theme” our movie nights. Some fun themes include: classic movie night (I am always trying to sneak in my favorite old school Disney flicks), comedy night, parent’s pick, kid’s pick, holiday favorites, sports themed flicks… the possibilities are endless!
ART DAY– Who doesn’t love getting messy? Even more of a reason to have a family art day! Last summer my daughter and I visited Art Monkey in FishHawk a few times. We had so much fun and even painted a father’s day mug. Outside there is a small splash zone and a yummy pizzeria where you can grab a slice. There are also plenty of places to sit and a grassy area where you could enjoy a picnic lunch as well. We are hoping to visit Art Monkey again this summer, but we are also hoping for an art day (or two… or three…) at home. One of our favorite things to do is paint! Our next project is a stepping stone kit that my daughter got for Christmas. We are excited to create and decorate the stepping stones and put them outside of our house as decorations.
VISITING A STATE PARK OR SPRING– We have recently started visiting more state parks with the kids, which is always so much fun. Our last trip was to Alafia River State Park. We played at the volleyball nets and took a short hike. Even the baby enjoyed the hike from the comfort of his stroller! There are so many awesome state parks with playgrounds, hiking trails, kayaking, etc. Most only charge a small fee to enter and you can spend the whole day. This summer we are hoping to go back to Weeki Wachee Springs. Tickets are relatively cheap at $13.00 for adults and $8.00 for kids 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free! The mermaid show, reptile show and riverboat ride are all included in admission. There is a beautiful fresh water spring for swimming with water slides, as well as a kiddie splash area for the little ones! According to their Facebook page, it has been super busy on the weekends, so it may be best to visit early in the day during the week. We are hoping to visit Weeki Wachee and a few state parks for some family fun and nature exploration!
Alafia State Park (left) and the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach (right)
GAME NIGHT– Another great way to spend a summer day is a game day/night. You can plan indoor and outdoor games. Our daughter loves board games! She also loves card games like “Go Fish” and freeze dance. How about a family game of Twister, a hula hoop contest or a dance off? You can spend a whole day playing games inside and outside! We even get our little guy involved when we kick around the soccer ball outside. Mini golf and bowling are two fairly inexpensive activities that we enjoy too!
FAMILY COOK OFF or BAKE OFF– Cooking and baking are awesome activities to do with the kids. It can be a great way to teach our kiddos about kitchen safety, healthy eating and pass down our favorite family recipes. My daughter loves to bake with us and we also enjoy making homemade pizzas. There are lots of fun kid recipes online that you can make with the little ones that don’t require an oven or stove. If you have older kiddos, why not have a family cook off or bake off. Mom and Dad can each lead a team to assist the kids and keep an eye out for safety.
DEDICATED READING TIME- While we often think of summer as a time to kick back and relax, daily reading is crucial for kids. We are planning for dedicated reading time daily. During this time we will literally drop everything and read. If your little ones are too young to read alone, this is a great time to explore new books with them. If your kiddos are older and like to read on their own, that’s perfect! What an awesome way for mom to get time to read what she likes and the kiddos to read what they like. The best part is that everyone is together in the same room reading with no distractions. Our family also loves visiting the library or Barnes and Noble. Its a great way to discover new books and spend some quality time! Oh and not to mention Barnes and Noble has a Starbucks!
COMMUNITY SERVICE– The final and most important thing we hope to do this summer is to give back. There are so many ways to give back to the community that kids can be a part of. Some ideas include bringing donations to or volunteering at your local food pantry, sending homemade cards to hospitals or nursing homes, or participating in a clean up at your local park or playground. There are so many possibilities. My daughter has asked to use money from her piggy bank to buy items for our church’s food pantry. How awesome is that?!?
So there you have it! I am excited for what this summer will bring as we move forward with our “budget friendly” activities. HAPPY SUMMER!!!