Summer fun in the city
The end of the school year has now come to pass. Many of us have looked forward to it and limped across the finish line dragging an empty lunch kit behind us. No more school lunches, field trips, hot meals, morning race to the bus or struggle to get kids to bed on time. Summer is bliss.
And, of course, summer is expensive.
At the risk of repeating myself, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to give your kids precious childhood memories. And while most parents strive to give themselves and their kids a few momentous experiences in a year, it’s really what we do together day-to-day that creates the overall tone of our lives.
The summer months look different for everyone. Many people will continue to juggle work with parenting, with the additional cost of summer childcare. Others will find themselves suddenly bombarded by their kids who are used to being stimulated at school every day. And for those that stay home with their littles, not much will change except for a desire to enjoy the summer weather and break up the monotony of the usual routine.
No matter the differences in our schedules, we are all left with the question: how can we create a memorable, fun summer without constantly overspending in the process?
Plan weekly themes
Sit down with the calendar and organize your summer into weekly blocks, taking into consideration any travel you might already have planned. How much time is left over? If you intend to spend most of that time locally, now visit some websites to begin filling in your spare time with free activities. Don’t forget the smaller towns surrounding Lloydminster—these places have unique activities and so much to offer without your having to travel far or stay overnight.
The Community Events Calendars found on the Lloydminster Library and City of Lloydminster’s websites are also good places to start. Midwest Family Connections and the Grace United Church have free programming available for children, and don’t forget the many playgrounds and parks in and around Lloydminster.
You might choose an age appropriate book for your children and use that as a jumping off point for crafts, games and movies. Let your child’s interests guide you. Charlotte’s Web could inspire some colouring, as well as a visit to the petting zoo or a local farm. At the end of the week, review what you learned together and what the highlights were before introducing the next week’s theme.
Ask around and incorporate local events into your weekly plans. Parades, chuckwagon races, rodeos and festivals of every kind will be passing through local communities. Pick and choose where to spend a bit of your summer budget and you will soon find that empty calendar filling up with lasting memories.
Now that you have an idea of what your summer will look like, are there any broad stretches with nothing to do? You might book swimming lessons or a summer camp, but remember that those boring days also build character. Constantly entertaining children doesn’t allow them to self-sooth and play and imagine. At the same time, be wary of allowing video games and TV fill their summer hours.
Anyone that’s spent much time with kids knows that variety and a back-up plan are essential. Is everyone tired of the same old routine? Try some spontaneous fun like backyard camping and sleepovers with friends. Sometimes an impromptu wiener roast is even more fun than a planned event, and is usually cheaper and less work at the same time.
Car pool, pot luck and coupon
No one wants to come across as cheap, but if anyone in the Midwest hasn’t admitted times have changed perhaps it is up to you to fill them in. If you have friends you prefer to travel with, adjust schedules so you can ride together when possible. Keep coupons in the vehicle for any drive-thru you may find yourself visiting. Of course, pack your snacks and plan your meals, but save on those little treats wherever possible. Communicate with other adults and see if a potluck picnic can shave any of the cost off your day-trip plans.
Embrace the summer
Summers in Canada can be dreadfully short. We don’t want to take any of the fun out of these warm weeks by discouraging our kids or pinching our pennies too hard. But the reality is, there is always another reason to overspend. Many of us are still paying for Christmas. Don’t add to your problems by going overboard this summer.
With a bit of planning, parents can bond with their kids at local attractions while teaching them that adventure is a frame of mind. Find meaningful ways to connect while still spending responsibly.