How to have fun with the kids this summer on a budget

Kids are expensive.  Between the excitement of the first week of summer and the Canada long weekend I had to do a double take when I peered into my back account and found myself wondering how on earth I was going to pay for those groceries this month!

So I took to the internet to find out what I can do with the kids this summer on a budget.

Here’s a collection of great ideas.

1. Splash pad! Most neighbourhoods are equipped with at least one within walking distance to your home. Load up the wagon with snacks and some water toys and head to your nearest watering hole for hours of summer cooling down fun!

Our little boy loves to climb up the slide

My little boy will never turn down a chance to head to the playground.

2. Playground! Much like the splash pad playgrounds are an easy, free place to keep your kids moving and happy in the summer. And there are many more to choose from now that school is out!

3. Backyard camping! Pitch a tent or better yet build a fort using sheets and chairs in your own backyard or deck. Tell the kids they need to pack their own camping bags complete with sleeping bags. (P.S. don’t forget to bring a flashlight – great for shadow puppets and those night time bathroom trips.)

4. Head to the beach! Kids love walking barefoot on the sand. Make a game of seeing how many shells or pebbles you can collect. Or teach your kids how to skip stones in the water.

5. Go on a nature walk! Canada has lots of conservation areas, trails, river walks and paths. Pack a backpack full of snacks and get a book in the library about different plants and bugs and start exploring.

6. Check out the library! Libraries are not only a great place to borrow books but many will have free programs for kids in the summer. I once spent an entire summer at my local library doing arts and crafts.

7. Making homemade popsicles! Just take the juice you already have in the fridge, pour it into an ice cube tray and use toothpicks as stems. You can also cut up little pieces of fruit and add it to the concoction. The kids will enjoy eating the fruits of their labour!

8. Lemonade stand! So you do have to buy some lemons and lemon-aid but this activity is not only fun for the kids, but also teaches them important business skills such as relationship building, accounting and saving. By the end of the afternoon you will likely make back what you spent and then some!

9. The sprinkler! Or as I like to call it, splash pad on a budget! Not only do they get to run around, get wet but your lawn gets a good watering as well.

10. Treasure hunt in the backyard! Find trinkets around the house and hide them in various spots outside. You can even go beyond the backyard and do it around the neighbourhood. Draw a map for the kids and leave clues with each trinket as they look for each item. Get all the kids in the neighbourhood involved and turn it into the amazing race!

So there you have it! Ten things to do this summer to keep your kids busy; make things interesting for mom and dad and more importantly have lots of fun without feeling the squeeze. I think I’m going to plan idea #10 this weekend!

Edyta McKay

Edyta McKay is a working mom with two amazing kids; Jack who is 5, and Kaia who is 3, who insists on doing everything her older brother does. A former journalist, Edyta lives in the big city of Toronto, Ontario with her very energetic family. She’s dished out parenting advice on CTV News and Global News where Jack has made some appearances as her side-kick.

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