Listen, everything is expensive right now and we aren’t sure when that will end. Taking a vacation sounds out of the question, especially if you’re driving ($4.20 a gallon for REGULAR right now??). But if you have kids, it’s going to be quite a long summer if you don’t break it up with some fun stuff to do. With a little planning, you can have a super fun activity for very little money set up every weekend this summer. The kids (and the parents) will look forward to that Saturday or Sunday every week and the memories you will create will be priceless.
Here are seven budget summer fun ideas:
Sidewalk Chalk – this dollar store gem is a game changer. If you have a sidewalk in your neighborhood, challenge the kids to fill it with positive sayings or flowers or balloons or funny pictures. Throw some hopscotch boards in there and see if anyone partakes in the fun. You can even just decorate your driveway if it’s asphalt or concrete. Dad – plan it for a day Mom will be out for a nice surprise for her when she gets home! When was the last time you saw chalk drawings on a driveway and DIDN’T smile? Never, right? Us either.
Bubbles – also a dollar store gem and super fun. From the smaller bottles to the ones that have long, oval wands to make larger bubbles, this is an activity for the young and the young at heart. You’ll be surprised when even older kids want to get in on blowing the bubbles! Bonus if you have a dog that loves to chase and break the bubbles. Hilarious! They even make catnip bubbles for those with outdoor cats. It may not fill a whole day, but it will be mighty fun.
Baby Pool or Sprinkler – baby pools are pretty cheap, and you can usually get some fun boats, bath toys, and water squirters at the dollar store that will make it even more fun. For some reason, kids love getting wet (you can expect to get wet, too, but if you’ve planned on it, who cares?). Have you ever seen a toddler be able to resist a puddle? We’ve rarely seen an adult that can resist one. Even if you don’t have the pool and you just get the sprinkler set up, the kids can run through it while staying cool in the hot summer sun. Just make sure to put on waterproof sunscreen about 30 minutes before enjoying the water so it sets. And be sure to empty the water out of the pool at the end of the day so mosquitoes don’t use it to breed!
Obstacle Course – You can create an obstacle course with items found around your house. Station one can be bubbles (double duty on this one!). Blow at least 10 bubbles to move on! Station two can be your laundry basket with balls that have to be thrown in to move on. Get them all in, move on to station three. That can be knots! Tie a bunch of knots into yarn and they have to untie them to move on. Have a swing set? Get it involved. Station four is climb up and slide down the slide three times to move on. Station five: set up disposable cups on the picnic table and have them flip them over until they are upside down. They don’t have to know it’s a college drinking game. Just don’t put beer in the cups. Use the cups to create station six: a course they have to run through, zig zagging across the lawn. Cut a star out of cardboard, cover it with aluminum foil, and hang it on a ribbon for the winner! They will nap well that day.
Backyard Party – get on social media. Talk to your neighbors. You don’t have to have it in your backyard if you have a local park accessible. Just make sure to see if you need to reserve the area. Have someone bring the hotdogs already heated through, in rolls, and wrapped in foil. Have someone else bring watermelon cubes. Have another person bring bottles of water or juice. Another can bring paper plates and napkins. Someone brings chips, someone brings pretzels, someone brings cookies for dessert. You get the idea! If everyone takes a little financial responsibility, it takes the money burden off one person and can make for a fun day with friends that doesn’t put a squeeze on your wallet. Don’t forget the ice. That person is important. Also have your backyard treated for mosquitoes and ticks before the party. Nothing ruins a good time like swatting mosquitoes and pulling ticks out of hair.
Build a Fort – there’s always a rainy day that puts a damper on outdoor plans. But that’s ok. Go inside a build a fort! Use old blankets and sheets and drape them over dining room chairs or the living room couch. Use chip clips (everyone has those) to secure the sheets and blankets so they don’t come tumbling down. Have a little picnic inside the fort for lunch (you have to eat anyway!). Or bring in your kids’ favorite stuffed animals or toys and read to them. They may not notice they are also learning… devious but worth it.
The possibilities are endless when you just get a little creative. Google can also be your best friend here if you’re looking for more ideas. You can also always have a picnic right in the backyard. Throw down a large blanket. Get your lunch together and use fun cups and dress up funny. It’s your backyard, anyway. Who cares if someone sees you sitting on a blanket eating peanut butter and jelly with a pirate hat on? We don’t need to take ourselves so seriously. Life is a lot more fun if you don’t.