Summer is here which means, for most parents, school is out! The kids are now home with you 24/7, which means the phrases “I’m bored” and “There’s nothing to do!” are bound to come out of their mouths several times daily. And for younger kids, while they might not express these same sentiments, they’ll still be looking for “something to do” pretty much every waking hour.
Of course, you don’t want to plop your kids in front of the television, computer, smartphone, or other digital devices for hours on end. You want to ensure they’re getting lots of physical activity and enjoying their summer to the fullest. But you also don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. You might have a few excursions planned, whether it’s an all-out vacation or just small trips. But there are actually lots of fun, absolutely free things you can do with the kids while the weather is at its best.
10 Go To The Playground
In most cases, if you live somewhere in the suburbs, or even the city, chances are there’s a playground within walking distance of your home or at least only a short drive away. Kids are often happiest with the simplest things (like playing with the cardboard box a toy comes in versus the toy itself). So a slide, some swings, monkey bars, sand, and grass can keep them occupied, and entertained, for hours.
Make it a point to visit the local playground for a short time every day, or once a week. The kids will be able to blow off some energy, and you can destress while relaxing on a park bench and keeping an eye on them, or catch up with neighbors and other local parents.
9 Visit The Library
The library is actually a great resource for not only books, movies, and video games that you can sign out to read or watch and then return (for free!). But there are often lots of cool events and gatherings that you can attend with the kids. There are events like story time readings, ideal for toddlers and kindergarteners, and reading clubs.
On rainy summer days, a visit to the library is a great way to entertain the kids, get them out of the house for an hour, and keep their brains working as they explore new books and stories during those few months that they’re out of school.
8 Splash Pad
Unlike water parks, splash pads are small outdoor areas, usually by playgrounds, community centers, or public parks that serve as a spray pool, with little to no standing water, but non-slip concrete or another similar material underneath so the kids can safely run around barefoot. Thus, kids of all ages cool down in the hot sun by spraying water from different toys or walking under or in front of a pipe shower.
It’s a great way for kids to cool down on a hot day, burn off some energy, and play with other kids from the neighborhood. And the best part? It’s completely free!
7 Crafts At Home
Do some fun crafts with kids at home, using everyday household items, or things you likely already have in a crafting box like popsicle sticks, construction paper, glue, markers, crayons, and pipe cleaners. Make crafts the kids can give as gifts for upcoming holidays or birthdays, homemade greeting cards, or items you can display around the house.
Use leftover material or old clothes to fashion homemade stuffed animals, or create fun science experiments or slime. Pinterest can be your best friend in coming up with crafting ideas that won’t cost you a cent, and you can use items that have been sitting in your closet for ages.
6 Backyard Fun
If you live in a house with a sizeable backyard, make use of it! The kids usually just need some grass to run around on and a few simple toys to entertain themselves. Play some music outside and let them have a dance party. Hide items all around and have them follow a treasure hunt. The winner gets to decide on dinner, and the loser has to do the winner’s chores for a week!
Or just get a soccer ball, create makeshift goal posts, and kick the ball around for a bit. Or set up random items on one side of the grass as bowling pins, like empty 2L cola bottles, and use a ball to knock them over for your own version of lawn bowling.
5 Play Dates With Friends
Call up a school friend’s parents, or your neighbor, and see if you can set up a playdate. The kids can get together at one of your houses, or a local playground or park, and play together for a few hours. Or maybe the kids want to watch a movie or play video games to take a break from the outdoors.
You can try to set up a standing weekly playdate with a friend for the duration of the summer so they get together every Friday afternoon, for example. The kids will be happy that they get to play with others and keep in touch with their school friends until they get to see them again come September.
4 Visit Grandparents
Every kid loves to visit the grandparents, especially because it often means a free-for-all: do what you want, each as much candy as you like, drown yourself in TV and tablets, and essentially break every rule you have when you’re at home. Grandparent time equals being spoiled.
The grandparents will also appreciate having some time to spend with their grandkids, and their kids, too. While you can send the kids there for an overnight visit, it's worth spending a day with the grandparents, enjoying lunch, catching up, playing board games, or whatever they fancy.
3 Go For A Bike Ride
Grab your bicycles and helmets and go for a leisurely bike ride around the neighborhood, along the local bike trail, or search for the best bike trails nearby your house and take a trip there to check them out. Pack a lightweight backpack with water, snacks, and a blanket. Stop at the local park and have a little picnic, then hop back on and head home.
Even if kids are still using training wheels, they can ride along. And they’ll enjoy the bonding experience.
2 Local Outdoor Events
See what’s going on in your area, as there might be events like food festival, a cultural event, car show, farmer’s market, movie night in the park, or more. There’s always generally something worth checking out that’s completely free (for admission, at least).
Sometimes, these include musical performances, face painting, rides or bouncy castles, petting zoos, and other fun activities to entertain the kids, provided by the community. You might end up spending a few bucks on ice cream and hot dogs. But it’s a far cry from what you’d spend on a more expensive day out.
1 Picnic In The Park
Rather than eat a boring lunch at home or sitting on a restaurant patio, have fun making mini sandwiches and homemade pasta salad together, picking a selection of snacks, drinks, and dessert. Then head out to the park to enjoy a nice outdoor picnic.
Bring along a simple board game you can play on the blanket or picnic table, a frisbee to toss around or kite to fly, and some stale bread bits to feed the birds. Then just sit back and enjoy nature and the gorgeous scenery.