Finding ways to have fun with the kids this summer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. As gas prices continue to fluctuate, the cost of groceries skyrockets and more families opt for staycations over the traditional family getaway, the time is now to get creative with summertime fun. Art museums, public museums and local zoos often offer free days to sample every so often, but the fun doesn’t have to end there — Keep reading for some activities you can do from the comfort of your own backyard!
Appreciate the Backyard Toys
Any parent knows novelty is a child’s best friend. A lot of toys have a way of losing their luster much more quickly than most parents care to admit. Somehow that doesn’t seem to be the case with a variety of outdoor toys like sandboxes, water tables, climbers and slides. Many of these magical things have a way of keeping young minds interested and young bodies active. Though it may not be practical (nor financially feasible) for you to invest in a whole playground of things, chose one or two at a time.
Visit the Dollar Section
For as little as a few dollars, you can create a wide variety of exciting backyard activities to enjoy throughout the summer. Buy a few big plastic bowls to make into a backyard skiball of sorts, use pool noodles to create your own water park, or make a dart board out of water balloons and a leftover cardboard box. Leave no creative stone unturned.
You can take this one as far as you’d like to, with as little as a family camp out on a Saturday night, or approach it like the kids’ very own staycation that lasts a whole week. Make a schedule for the week, filled with structured camp-like activities, and do your best to stick to it. Incorporate things like a backyard obstacle course, share messages of joy with the neighbors by leaving chalk notes, create a treasure or scavenger hunt, or stage a water balloon fight.
A lot of fun can be had in creativity. Integrate arts and crafts into your summer routine, by trying things from fun lists of DIY projects sure to keep you and the kids busy for days at a time.
Throw a Party
Choose something outrageous to celebrate and embrace it with all your might. It could be one of those national “holidays” that seem to pop up all over the place (national cheesecake day anyone?), or it could be the birthday of a favorite toy. Whatever the occasion, make a party out of it with food, cake, candles and decorations. Involve the kids in the preparation process as well, and you’ve got a fun family tradition to be cherished every Summer (like Christmas in July).
Your family is made up of characters — give them a stage for highlighting their artsy side by working together to put on a play, perhaps at an upcoming family gathering. It can be something familiar or something you create, and you can go as dramatic with it as you’d like by writing the script and creating costumes.
Ty Schmidt is a freelance writer, newspaper reporter, and mother whose work has also been published on Ladies Life.