By Karen Green
School ends this week, and while I am so excited to embark on my first summer home with my kids since I was on mat leave three years ago, I want to make sure that every day doesn’t begin with, ‘What should we do today?’
And I’m pretty sure it’ll be me saying it, not the kids.
Because, while I love free-form days and spontaneous outings, too many of those out here in the (very, very hot) cornfield, will make us all go batty. Both of my girls will be in day camp for one week while I attend a writing course in Toronto, and my seven-year-old is going to riding camp for a week at the end of July (affordable riding programs are just one more advantage of living out here in the boonies), but otherwise, our days are free. We’re going to have to make some fun. On the other hand, me staying home with the girls means that we are on a single income now, so I can’t make plans that break the bank.
So, I’ve been looking around and doing some planning. And I think I’ve come up with enough places to go to keep us happily busy, on a budget.
1. Local library. Besides possible summer drop-in programs, our library always has an arts and crafts project set out, puzzle and game tables, computers and a train table to keep the kids busy. Oh yeah—and there are books there, too. Cost: free
2. Park/splash pad. We have a brand new, 17-acre playground and water park right around the corner from us, and most neighbourhoods will have a park and/or a wading pool/splash pad within accessible reach. Cost: free
3. Pools. My in-laws have a gorgeous pool, and we’ll be there once or twice a week, but there are two other pools nearby if we want to change things up. Again, most towns/neighbourhoods have at least one community pool. Cost: free to minimal
4. Farms/farmers markets. Never underestimate the enjoyment that can come from exploring the stands at a farmers market. Besides the opportunity to teach your kids lessons about food and agriculture, there is always something fresh and delicious to eat. Cost: whatever you want to spend
5. Nature walk. Even in the densest city, nature exists. Explore it with your kids, and bring a notebook to write down or draw the critters you see, collect leaves to press, or start a nature journal. Don’t forget a snack. Cost: free
And for rainy days? I’ve been saving toilet paper rolls, yogurt cartons, tissue boxes, empty thread spools and anything else I can think of for future arts and crafts projects. It’s also a great time to introduce new card or board games, bake cookies or yes, even watch a movie.
How will you and your kids be spending summer vacation?
Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of canadianfamily.ca.