Summer is just around the corner, and that means barbecues, beach days, and warm patio nights ahead. It also means your kids are going to have plenty of free time on their hands — and it’s up to you to fill that time. While it might be tempting to go way over budget signing them up for every camp, lesson, and excursion available, keeping your kids active and entertained over the summer doesn’t need to cost a fortune.
After all, the average day camp charges $304 per week, a sum that compounds quickly if you enroll for multiple weeks or have more than one child. For many single parents, it’s a challenging burden to take on. Luckily, all it takes is a little creativity and a lot of love and attention to make this summer a memorable one without breaking the bank.
Check out the below list of free and low-cost activities you can do with your kids this summer!
When You Want to Keep Things Chill
- Pack up your gear and plenty of snacks and spend a day at the beach — then splurge on some ice cream at the end of the day.
- Go for a picnic, and get your kids to help with planning and preparing the menu.
- Go bird watching.
- Learn how to make your own ice cream sandwiches (and then eat them, of course!).
- Attend a free outdoor play or concert.
- Spend an afternoon at a farmers market.
- Host your own movie night at home, complete with freshly popped popcorn, DIY movie tickets, and a red carpet.
- Schedule a weekly board game night. Have one family member pick a new game each week they have to teach the others how to play.
When It’s Time to Get Active
- Go swimming at a free outdoor pool — or a clean lake if there’s one nearby.
- Research the best trails in your area and go for a long hike.
- Sign up for a beginner lesson at the nearest rock climbing gym, for both you and your kids.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Play Frisbee.
- Go canoeing or kayaking.
- Attend a free yoga class in the park or at a local studio.
- Play tennis outside.
Keep Them Learning, All Summer Long
- Attend a free day at a museum, art gallery, or science center near you.
- Find a book on foraging at the local library and go on a discovery walk in the woods.
- Since you’re there already, spend a day at the library! Check out a few of our recommendations for single parents.
- Take a tour of a local farm.
- Visit a wildlife sanctuary.
- Volunteer with an organization that supports a worthwhile cause, like a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
- Find free workshops at your local art gallery and learn to sculpt, paint, or draw.
- Plan a camping trip together, and see how resourceful you can be.
Just Plain Fun
- Throw a water balloon party with all the neighborhood kids.
- Build your own kites and learn how to fly them!
- Host a cookie swap, and get each of your kids to make their own batch.
- Build a fort or tree house in the backyard.
- Make a blanket fort in the house.
- Get a head start on Halloween this year by having your kids start making their own costumes early. Combine old clothes and cheap finds from the local Salvation Army or Goodwill.
- Host a tea party at home, complete with fancy dishes and freshly baked goodies.
- Drive out of the city at night and do some stargazing.
Money Doesn’t Buy Great Memories
When looking back on their summer days with you, your kids won’t remember how much money you spent. They’ll remember the experiences you shared together, the new things they learned, and the adventures they had — so get creative, and have fun! If you enjoyed these suggestions, the Father’s Rights blog offers lots of tips and advice for how to make life work as a single parent.