How to have a fun, low-cost, low-key summer

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On facebook recently I came across this great tongue-in-cheek article: 10 ways to give your kids an honest-to-goodness 70s summer. I laughed at how similar it was to my own childhood but it also reminded me of a conversation I recently had.

A couple of weeks ago a friend had asked a friend asked me what I planned to do all summer with the kids. “I plan to hit the pool at the park, go for bike rides, head over to the beach.”
“What? All summer?”
“Yes? That’s what I did when I was a kid and I have fond memories.”
“But aren’t they going to get bored? Won’t they drive you crazy? We’ve signed up for camps for at least a few of the weeks.”
“Well, am home all summer, so many parents would love the opportunity to be home with their kids all summer.”

This conversation was revisited a couple of weeks later when we all got together at the neighbourhood book club. After they had a chuckle at the fact I planned to spend most of my summer at the park pool, they went on to describe all the different camps their kids were signed up for – and these are people who are home in the summer! The thing is, we also have a lot of things I have planned over the summer they just tend to be no/low cost and typically low-key. Here is an idea of what our summer will look like:

– The summer reading program at the local library has amazing weekly events for kids of all ages. With weekly themes such as “Let’s make some noise,” and “Let’s get messy.” The piece de resistance will be a tech crafts day where they can make their own crafts using LED lights, circuits and conductive materials. These free events will be a nice break once-a-week for the kids to enjoy.
COST: $0
Time: once a week for 6 weeks

– Our YMCA membership includes some great drop-in programs such as a science class, a dance class and arts and crafts. The kids will also be signed up for swimming lessons over the summer as well. While they are enjoying classes, I get to enjoy a workout.
COST: included with membership, Mr. Tucker’s work pays for 1/3 of the monthly cost (and we get a tax credit).
Time: once a week for the drop-ins, once a week for swimming

– Two small camps: one is a half-day camp, and the second one is a ¾ day camp both at nearby churches. We do this because they are incredibly inexpensive and their friends all go to the same camps.
COST: $175 both camps (and we get a tax credit).
Time: Two weeks of camp

– We are lucky enough to live a 5k bike ride in either direction to city beaches. One beach in particular has an amazing play structure as well. Usually we reserve this for the weekend when Mr. Tucker can join us and we can spend the day there.
COST: $0 ($10 if we all supplement our picnic lunch with an order of fries or ice cream from the canteen).
Time: as much as a full day of fun

– City parks: within a 2k radius we have two city parks with lovely wading pools as well as a splashpad. We either walk or bike over to the parks with a picnic basket in tow and spend the day there. Because they are in our neighbourhood the kids are always guaranteed to find friends there.
COST: $0
Time: 4-6 hours of outdoor enjoyment

– Museums & Art gallery: Now that both kids are in school full days we haven’t renewed our memberships to some local museums because we never have the time to enjoy visiting. However, the summer is an excellent opportunity to be able to explore the museums we haven’t been able to visit for over a year. Luckily for us, the library has free passes to local museums. While they are wildly popular, I try to check at night to see if there are any branches with passes close to us. I have had great luck being the first in line in the morning to grab the passes! I also happened to receive a free family membership to the Art gallery, so that is a win as well!
COST: $0
Time: ½ to a full day exploring the museums.

Living in a northern climate I generally prefer to be outside and active as much as possible but some days you just need a break. Like most kids, we have piles of books, toys and craft materials at home to entertain themselves on rainy or lazy days. Luckily for me, my kids are old enough now that I can bring my laptop with me when we are out and apply for jobs or work on personal stuff as they don’t NEED me all the time.

So if I had to answer the question, “What are you doing all summer,” all over again I think I would say something like, “A lot! We have dance and art and science and reading and picnics, swimming, and biking and visiting museums all planned for the summer – and two weeks of camp!”