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More Frugal Ways to Entertain The Kids This Summer

By David Bakke

cheap ways to entertain childrenSo school lets out for the summer and my family did what I’m sure a lot of families did…we went on vacation! Maybe it was to a touristy travel spot or maybe to visit friends and family, but we got out of town. The kids loved it and we loved the break and the relaxation.

Now What?

However, once we returned home a somewhat grim reality began to set in. How do you entertain the kids for the rest of the summer? Your vacation is what, one, maybe two weeks? Well, the long hot summer is usually about three months long. And, as I’m sure any parent can attest, children (especially smaller ones) are not the greatest at entertaining themselves.

So I thought I would discuss some of the things that I have been able to come up with regarding entertaining my little one for the duration of the summer. And hopefully, without breaking the bank. By the way, I only have one child, a boy, who is three. So I guess my job is even easier than those with larger families.

Keep It Simple, Keep It Cheap

Before I became a father I would have sworn to you that there was little to nothing in the way of kids’ activities in my surrounding area. Oh how wrong I was! With a little research and creativity, I think I’ve become an expert in children’s activities in my neighborhood.

Parks

I know, I know everybody knows about parks. Well, I thought I did too, until I was able to uncover five, yes, five different parks within 15 minutes of my house. Check out your county or city website to identify all of them within your area. They should all have a few different things there that your kids will enjoy. Also, when at the parks, look around for other activities that may be in the area. I have been able to find free classes and “story times” by reading flyers at my local parks.

Pools

More than likely, you should have some sort of a community pool in your area. This has been a godsend for my son and I this summer. Especially with the heat. They even have a family night and also offer discounted rates if you go later in the afternoon. Some neighorboods also have public pools as well; just keep in mind these will often be a lot more crowded.

Free Stuff

There is free stuff all over the place. As I said, we found a few free classes and story times at my local book stores. We also checked out our community center that offered one hour “playtimes” where he could go and interact with other kids (and I got to know some other parents as well). Our local ice cream parlor also offers free kid’s cones to children under 40.”

The Nice Stuff Too

I also don’t mind spending money on summer activities for my son, especially when he behaves well. We get children’s discounts at our zoo, we have an aquarium we have visited, and there’s a children’s museum in town too that we’ve gone to as well. Your entertainment budget for your child shouldn’t be based solely around frugality.

Plans For the Rainy Days

And of course, it always helps to have a game plan for when the weather doesn’t permit outside activities. I usually try to keep a book or a game he hasn’t seen before on hand for when that rainy day hits. There’s nothing worse than not being able to go outside and having nothing to do inside. Also, what I have also found to be a great resource is my own childhood. Why not? We have had lots of fun while inside playing games or taking part in activities that I remembered doing when I was a kid. Also, try doing an internet search on the name of your city or town followed by the words “fun center.” I did that with my city and came up with quite a few good indoor fun options.

Entertaining your children for an entire summer (without breaking the bank) can be an enormous task. But if you know where to look and get a little creative, you should be able to mix in enough free stuff with the other activities to make it a fun-filled summer for all.

Any ideas or “gems” you have found for entertaining kids out on summer break? Please share with our readers below.

(photo credit: nidriel)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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