Friday, June 22, 2012

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Sensible Summer Fun: Enjoying the season without breaking the ban

If you have kids, then you understand the love/hate relationship with the summer season. You get to see your little ones more often, but then again, you get to see your little ones more often. Having the kids around the house all summer long will wear on even the strictest parent’s sanity, and that’s why I suggest planning outings as often as possible so everyone in the home can get a little fresh air and exercise.

Of course not all parents have the opportunity to cart their kids around to various summer activities. Most parents have pressing responsibilities that prevent them from spending tons of free time with their kids; most parents have jobs that take up most of their time, not to mention parents who juggle multiple jobs, college classes, and raising a family simultaneously. What’s more, most of these same busy parents can’t afford to send off their kids to a summer camp or to an exotic getaway, so summer plans tend to be few and far between. Thusly, I’d like to propose a few budget conscious solutions for summer activities that will keep the kids busy without costing parents a fortune.

Local swimming pools and homemade water activities 

Summertime is unbearably hot no matter where you are in the United States. So the easiest way to entertain kids is to provide them with some fun and distracting means to cool off. This can be as easy as going to the local public swimming pool—if there’s one in your area—so your kids can play in the water while you catch up on some reading or just to soak up the sun.

If the idea of going to a local pool isn’t your cup of tea, you can just as easily provide some water-based fun in front of your own home with a hose and sprinkler system, or a small wading pool. No matter where you decide to let your kids play in the water, make sure that they get proper skin protection from the sun, because nothing is more painful than dealing with sunburn the day after spending a day outside.

Free museum visits and citywide children’s events 

One of my favorite memories from childhood summers is when my parents would take me to the children’s museum to see the latest exhibits. My family would usually go to the museum on free days so we didn’t have to spend a penny on the visit, but I got so much out of the experience. My childhood museum experiences definitely influenced my future education in high school and in college.

You can do the same if there are any museums in your area—simply find out when they have free days and plan a trip to take your kids for some free learning. Your kids will love the change of pace from lazing around the house, especially if there’s some event at the museum specifically designed for children. And you don’t have to limit yourself to museum visits—most major cities have free activities planned throughout the summer just so families can have a reason to check out the town with their kids. It just takes a little searching to find out the best deals going on in your community.

Scavenger hunts 

This is an activity that I usually suggest for multiple parents to tackle together with their kids just because it’s more exciting with more people involved. Parents and their kids can choose a convenient time to get together at a nearby park and start the scavenger hunt from there. Parents could list off a few commonly found items around the park for the kids to look for (a leaf of a certain shape or color, for example) or they could bring along some items to hide around the park. After the parents establish what the kids need to find, they can just sit back and relax while the kids search around the park for as long as it takes them. It’s a great activity to help kids socialize with other children their age, and it gives parents a chance to chat with fellow parents and friends in their local community.

Katheryn Rivas is a freelance writer and resident blogger at online universities, a site dedicated to distance higher education. She welcomes your comments at

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