Friday, May 13, 2011

Cheap Summer Fun!?

Eight and a half more days.  Flower and I have been counting down the days until school gets out!  I don't know about your house, but for us, the excitement of summer usually wears out at the beginning of week two.  When I was a kid, we never used the word "B" word.  At least not around mom.  If she heard us complain about being bored, she could find something for us to do in a matter of seconds.  The problem was that it usually involved some type of cleaning.  My sister and I were good at coming up with things to do.

Wanted:  Imaginations
Kids today have very little imagination.  When I was a kid, we did not own any type of gaming system at all.  We did not have cable TV.  And looking back, I think that was one of the best decisions my parents ever made.  We were forced to use our imaginations, and to be creative.  My sister and I spent hours upon hours playing "house".  I bet I spent half my childhood outside.  My daughter however, has to be entertained.  She hates going into her room and "just playing".  Her mind has to be stimulated every second by something...TV, Nintendo, games.  Well this summer, that is going to change.  I started thinking of some fun, free (or almost free, because let's face it...I'm a cheap-a$$) entertainment for my kids.  Some are pretty obvious, but hardly anyone does them anymore it seems!

What could possibly be cheaper than taking your kids to the park?!  Pack a picnic lunch of sandwiches, and let them play to their little heart's content.  There are benefits to letting your children run it out at the park, too.  One, you will all get a good dose of Vitamin D.  Two, you can get a nice tan.  Three, your precious children will sleep like angels later.

I love to camp.  I prefer camping in the mountains, but the closest thing we have to a mountain in the Texas panhandle is the mountain of trash at the landfill.  Gas is way to high to even think about loading up all the gear, and driving, so why not set up tent in the backyard?  Take the lantern, sleeping bags and everything out there, and get the kids involved in helping set it up!  Take a map of the stars, and see how many constellations your can find together.  Shoot, pull the grill over, fire it up and have a "bonfire"!  Make some Smore's, and sing a few songs.  I bet it will be something your kids don't soon forget.

I think I went to Vacation Bible School every year, and not just at my church.  I was a church hoppin' VBS kid.  I've yet to see a VBS that charges, it is full of fun, kid friendly activities, and it feeds their spiritual side.  Call around to the local churches, and find out when they are planning to hold their Vacation Bible Schools.

Field Trips
At least here, our volunteer fire department is super kid friendly.  Call to see if they give tours of the fire house!  What kids doesn't like a shiny fire truck?  Some stations do require a group, so call some friends and get a group together.  This is also a good way to teach kids about fire safety (and that is a pretty big deal for me).

Nature Walk
Set up a nature scavenger hunt for you kids!  We are blessed to be surrounded by miles and miles of Texas, where nature, wildlife and bugs are everywhere you turn.  Make a list of 15 or so things to hunt for with your kids, then take a hike!  Its great exercise, a great way to teach your kids how to respectful of the environment, and a great way to teach them about how the earth was made!

I like this one, because it helps me out tremendously!  Turn chores into something fun!  My poor Little Man is deathly afraid of car washes, and Flower asks to play in the water nearly every day during the summer.  Viola....I give Flower a bucket and sponge, and she washes my car for me.  She is helping me out, but has no idea!  She just thinks it is fun!  Find a field that needs a little trash pick up.  Have a race to see who can pick up the most trash, and give out prizes!  (Although I would recommend wearing gloves.  Seriously, use common sense, folks.)

Instead of demanding to be entertained, why not allow them to entertain?  Elderly people love to see children.  Take your kids, and "adopt" a grandparent.  Visit with them, make crafts for them, etc.  This is such a great way to give back to previous generations, and a great way for your kids to learn some really valuable life lessons.

County Extension Offices
At least in this area, our county extension office offers several summertime activities for kids.  They range from learning about gun safety, to learning to sew.  They rarely cost more than a couple of bucks.  Just call your local office to find out specifics.

Read a Book
"You just said to make my kids sit down, inside, and read a book?"  Oh yes.  I did.  Why do we, as parents, feel like it is our job to fill every second of our kid's lives with an activity?  Make them use their imaginations.  The more they are forced to do so, the better they will get!  What exercises imagination better than reading a book?  Make them read some classics, too.  Age appropriate, of course, but a little Trumpet of the Swan and Little Women never hurt anyone.

I'd love to hear other ideas!  Feel free to leave a comment if you have some fun ideas!

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