Planning summer for free
Our family is on a tight budget these days, so I’m constantly on the lookout for cheap or free things to do with the kids. Summer opens up a wealth of possibilities, particularly since being outside is a new option. Of course, if you live where I do, the 90% humidity on a 99 degree day begs for a fun free day inside more often than not. We’ve been super lucky so far this year, though, and the weather has been gorgeous! Rain has kept us inside more than usual, but such is life. Here are a few suggestions that include some FREE things that we’ve loved doing so far this summer and a few things that are on the docket!
*Disclaimer: Keep in mind that my kids are 2 and 3, so these are activities that work for our family. If you have older kids, you have even more options at your fingertips!*
Parks: It doesn’t matter where you live. I am confident that you can find a fun park near your house! We’ve been known to take a picnic to a nearby park, play on one of the playgrounds, wander around the lake, toss in a nature scavenger hunt, then head home for nap and rest time. If you can find a park with animals (reminiscent of a petting zoo), you’re in more luck!
Mall play areas: For real. The mall can be a great place to hang out while kids play at the play areas! There are two near our house that are perfect for Kate and Drew and they are happy to race around on their own while I sit and chat with a friend or simply watch and laugh! If you’re concerned about germs, be sure to have your hand sanitizer or package of wipes ready to go for when they finish playing!
Playgrounds: These are EVERYWHERE! Tucked away in neighborhoods, behind church buildings, in parks, etc. Church playgrounds can be some of the best. They are normally well maintained and churches are happy to share, as long as the area isn’t being used for a specific event.
Library: Head to your local library for story time, to play with fun toys, or just to pick out new books. I mean, really. Don’t you get a little bit tired of reading the same book day after day? No one really expects small children to be silent and still in the kids’ area, so don’t be shy like I was. (We tend to be a circus wherever we go, so I avoided the library for too long.)
Zoo: The National one, specifically. Fortunately, we live close enough to Washington, D.C. that we can make a quick trip up there- even in a day, if we wanted. It’s part of the Smithsonian, so it’s free (except for parking). You can get creative with the parking situation, though, if you do your research. My sister and I took the kids when they weren’t quite yet 1 and 2, and it was totally worth it!
Water fun: One of the malls that’s near our house has fountains installed in the ground, surrounded by benches. Guess where hot tots and their parents gather in the summer? We slip into bathing suits (and when I say “we,” I mean “the children.” I wouldn’t want to embarrass you…) and the kids splash to their hearts’ content. Don’t forget the pool shoes. Those are required.
What fun, free summer things have you discovered in your area?
(These ideas were first posted last summer, but they’re still working for us!)