I can a be a bit of a workaholic if I let myself. I just LOVE what I do so I always have projects and teachers to help. That means, I have to plan for keeping kids busy and getting the family out and about, especially in the summer.
My kids don't like to do a lot of organized stuff over the summer, so I have to plan a bit of structure into our days or the summer slips by way too fast.
I know how hard it is to live on a teacher budget. But with summer here, we all still want to have fun every week. So, here's an easy way to make sure you get to do fun things and still stay within your budget.
First, take 5 minutes to make a list of all the activities you and your family want to do. Everyone helps. This is the "no promises what's your dream" list. You can rein it in once you're done.
Now, arrange the activities into groups of your choosing. Perhaps you have a group for free things, one for inexpensive things and one for more expensive items. Or maybe you have them grouped by how far away they are or how much time you'd spend doing that item. We have a group for movies. My kids list all the movies that are coming out in the summer that they want to see, and we get them on the calendar. Do what ever makes sense for you and your family. Arrange each group by how much you want to do each activity.
Next, pull out all of the big ticket items and choose a couple that you can reasonably afford to do. Schedule those first. Then, choose at least 2 items from any of your lists to do each week for your summer.
Since we have a big family, I like to pair a couple of free items with a paid one or do all free items one week and one with a bigger cost the next. So we might go to the pool, a nature preserve and the beach in one week but then go to the water park or a theme park and the beach the next week.
When you choose to stay home, pay the kids to do things on your To Do List like wash the car or have them help (deepening on their age) with some baking to restock the freezer with treats or plan a meal they're going to help make. Or, lemonade stands are always a hit. You could go to the local appliance store and get a large box. Just bring out some planning to do and set up the slip 'n slide to keep everyone cool.
If you plan well, the summer will be packed with fun that won't ruin your budget.
Go to your local appliance store and grab a large box or two. Let your kids (and all the neighbors) truncates it into a puppet theater, a box office or anything else they can imagine. Store it in our garage until the kids fully destroy it - about 2 weeks of fun.
Lots of local places offer free tours. Call around and see who offers them.
Stay active, but out of the heat of the day, with a night bike ride. There's something magical about riding a bike that's all lit up at night. We have wheel lights and headlights for all our bikes so they're always read for a night ride..
Beach, pool, splash pad or reservoir - it's all the same to kids who just want to play in the water.
Search for free festivals and events near you. There's lots of hidden gems if you really look.
Do a parks day. Map out a route t several local parks and play at each one. Who knows? You might find a new favorite. At the very least, you'll have lots to talk about at dinner as you compare all their features.
Nature preserves and state/national parks are always a great option. We have tons around our area, but some places we've lived have had only a few.
Find little local museums, farms and historic walks. You might be surprised by what you'll find.
Lots of cities have free movies in the park or free movies at the local theaters.
Do a tour of local coffee shops or treat shops, visiting one each week. My husband and I love locally roasted coffee. so, we've been choosing a new place to try each week. Since more coffee shops keep opening up, the list is still going. With the kids, we visit one place each week for a frozen treat - gourmet popsicles, ice cream, gelato... It's been a huge hit and a cheap date.
Make 4-8 weekly plans out of all the ideas (don't share with the family). Place each weekly plan in an envelope and seal it up. You can either label them by week or just choose randomly. Then, put them in a box or basket. Choose an envelope for the week each Sunday night. It's a little surprise each week.
May your summer be filled with love, laughter and lots of fun. As rejuvenating as that is, don't forget to take time for yourself too. Self-care is NOT extra. It's essential.