Like most, I am ready for a break when school is out. But let’s be honest, your kids are not. They like routines, being busy, and love seeing their friends. My oldest just graduated kindergarten, so transitioning to school five days a week was big, and suddenly that stopped. She is already begging to see her classmates. My middle child is still a preschooler, so while she misses school, she is excited to be with her sister again on a daily basis. And my youngest is just as thrilled but also jealous and wants the one-on-one attention he gets from mommy.
So how can you plan to keep them busy, but also hope to limit driving around town, while also saving money (summer camps are not cheap!)? That was my goal, and I did it by starting to plan early.
- We know of a co-op preschool we don’t attend; however, they host an affordable summer camp. Thankfully my husband’s schedule works out, so I can co-op 1-to 2 days a week, and my older kids can join the camp while my youngest can stay with my husband. Check out all the preschools in your area, and most will have a summer option.
- Another great option is to create your own group of families in your area. I reached out to my city’s mom group on Facebook (SFBAM!) and found parents of kids of similar ages, and we created our classes. I contacted the gymnastics studio and hired our soccer coach to teach the lesson. You would be surprised that this is possible! It can be tough to find coaches, but once you do, it’s worth it, and usually, you can make it affordable.
- Form a play date with your past class or preschool parents. Ask for contacts or try to connect earlier in the year so you can make a regular get-together. My daughter’s kindergarten class has so many parents wanting to do meetups, and all of the kids seem to get along great. If you know of a local splash pad they can run around at, that’s a great spot to do regular meet-ups.
- Trips to the zoo, theme parks, and local creek trails/beaches are all great options. We are incredibly fortunate to live near mini hikes. We can go to the beach, we have a zoo membership, and there are some small kid theme parks/museums nearby. Try to make arrangements to meet some of your friends there. Make it once or twice a week to make it fun for the kids.
- Check out parks away from you that you wouldn’t ordinarily have time to visit. And yes, summer is hot, so start your trip in the morning, and make packing a snack/lunch a regular thing. That way, your kids are always eager to get out the door, get their energy out and come home to quiet time or nap time.
- There are free ‘storytimes’ at your local library, and some might even offer them outdoors. It can be such a fun way to do something different.
- Visit family. Try to plan a get-together or BBQ at a park near their house. That way, it’s an outing for both and can limit the time. Sometimes when we go to a family event, it is so much travel time I’m ready to go home, and it’s hard to leave.
- Day trip to a camping spot. Check out local reservoirs, lakes, or close by campsites. Sometimes you can visit, hang out at the water, and have an excellent barbecue without too much hassle.
- Fruit picking. Now that summer is here, find a fruit picking spot and take your gang. There’s always a reward after all the work!
- Food trucks! Many cities will have a weeknight with food trucks, making it a fun time to try a new food once a week or once a month. We often find them at the farmer’s markets too!
Finally, ask neighbors if they’d like to potluck in your backyard or driveways.