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School’s out! It’s mid-June, and that wonderful summertime feeling of relaxation has set in…now what?!
Whether you’re working outside the home, working at home, or enjoying a season of staying at home, if your kids are on summer break, I can imagine your routine has changed! While you don’t want to completely lose sight of important disciplines you’ve been cultivating all year, summer is the time to try new things and let your kids expand their horizons.
Believe it or not, it is possible to have a very full summer experience, and to cross off some of those bucket list items, even when you (as the parent) are working and not quite as relaxed as the kids. (That being said, don’t go to the opposite extreme of planning every moment of every day of the summer! Building margin into our schedules is very healthy!)
It’s also possible to thoroughly enjoy the summertime without breaking the bank! Here’s how!
The most obvious money-saving summer plan options include making your vacation week a time to visit out-of-town family, or to frequent the neighborhood pool. These are really smart ideas, in fact, I’m doing them myself!
But sometimes, your family may want to do something a bit more creative. It doesn’t take a lot of planning or money to try these fun options:
1. Day trips
Whether you live in the country or the city, there are times when you just gotta get away! By going on a day trip, you can:
- Avoid paying for a hotel!
- Lessen your time planning and packing, after all, you’ll be back home by nightfall!
- Get to know your home state, i.e. squeeze in some education (history, culture, geography)!
- Save money by packing a cooler and having a picnic!
Recently, my family visited an Amish community in Ethridge, TN, about an hour and a half from our home. We loved it! We took a horse-drawn wagon guided tour, and the kids with us got to take turns driving the horses. I’ve been a reader of Amish fiction for years, so I was excited to see the the pages come to life! We learned so much about the Amish lifestyle and their beliefs.
We also recently went horseback riding with another family from our church, just over an hour away from home, at Natchez Trace. I hadn’t been horseback riding in roughly 30 years, but I felt so comfortable at this place! The horses are very well taken care of and very gentle. We had a guided trail ride which lasted 2 hours. I can’t wait to go back!
2. Neighborhood Open House/Block Party
We usually think of open house parties around the holidays or at graduation time, but you can host one any time of the year! Your kids can make invitations by hand or on the computer and hand them out to neighbors on your street as you go for a walk together. Keep your refreshments simple and make the focus getting to know your neighbors. You may get some Dollar Store sidewalk chalk, bubble wands, or jump ropes. Hosting a drop-by, outdoor gathering makes your prep work very low maintenance. Your whole family will have something to look forward to, and the effort will hopefully result in stronger neighborhood ties!
3. Plant and Nurture a Garden
You don’t have to be a master gardener, or even have a green thumb, to plant a garden. We’ve never had a garden before, but recently, my husband and daughter made a quick trip to the store to buy supplies and whipped up a really great looking raised-bed garden in the back yard. They planted tomatoes, spinach, cilantro and cucumbers. Our daughter was so touched that my husband had invited her to do this activity together, as father and daughter! She told me that she doesn’t even mind if the veggies don’t flourish (but they are flourishing!), that the experience alone was very meaningful to her. She has taken on the responsibility of watering the new garden twice a day! Sometimes, it’s truly the little things that make the biggest difference!
4. Plan a Pop-Up Encouragement Party!
Another project that could be done in the evenings or weekends is to involve your whole family in being a blessing to another family. Maybe you know a family member or a friend from work or church who just had surgery, is shut in, or just had a new baby. You can make simple refreshments, such a Rice Krispy treats and fresh squeezed fruit juice, or put together a meal that travels well. If your finances allow, add a special gift, even if it’s second hand. Call ahead to be sure your friends are ready to greet you, then pile the whole family in the car for an old-fashioned home visit! I promise, your family will end up feeling just as blessed and full of joy as the friends you are helping! This is a great way to integrate family fun into a lifestyle of looking outward!
5. Visit the Library…Often!
Take advantage of the free summer reading programs at your local library. Your kids can earn prizes and coupons, while they stay motivated to read. Also, can you keep a secret…? Libraries are air conditioned! And they have free wi-fi! This is a win-win for you work at home moms to get your kids reading while you get some work done!
There you have it! Just a few ideas to get you started enjoying the summer without breaking the bank!
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Gracia y paz,
P.S. If you haven’t checked out my FREE digital resource, “Pull Yourself Together, Mama! 5 Ways to Look (and Feel!) Polished Under Pressure,” please do! Inside, I offer straightforward solutions to help you refocus your thinking, so that you can be the BEST wife and mom ever!
- Nurture Your Core Values!
- Keep It Simple!
- Less Is More!
- Learn to Let It Go!
- It’s All About That Grace!
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