You are most likely over the shock that summer has been cancelled in terms of normality. If you are fortunate enough that your go-to summer camp is open, you may be looking for some Friday afternoon or weekend activities to keep the kids busy and off their devices. Are you part of the majority of parents who try to find a way to balance work and kids simultaneously, while trying to get the most out of summer? This article is for you. Either way, here are some sure-fire ways to keep your children happy and allow you to save some money at the same time.
Whether you find yourself alone at home with the kids or friends and family surround you, your mission as a parent is to do your best to keep fun-filled summers alive despite the pandemic. While 24Cash may be providing loans to those who need it most, our team is also fully dedicated to providing our readers with practical advice for a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle. Here are some of our favourite summer activities, who knows, you may find yourself embracing new family traditions.
Like most parents, you may be a little hesitant to include the kids in preparing meals or baked good because, well, let’s face it, it’s usually slow and messy. If you focus on age-appropriate recipes and see it as an activity rather than a vital, time-sensitive task, you will learn to see that Julia Child was on to something when she coined the term, The Joy of Cooking. You can find real happiness in exploring the culinary world with your kids, but you can also give them a leg up on mastering the art of ‘adulting.’ If you plan it right, you can also significantly cut back on your grocery bill.
- Ice Cream | Ice cream might sound a little too advanced or complicated for kids, but it’s actually a breeze. There are a few foolproof methods that you can squeeze into your weekly routine.The “Ice Cream in a Bag” method has gained ground in kindergarten classes because it’s easy, quick and relatively mess-free – and yes, it even tastes good! Head over to The Best Ideas for Kids for the how‑to.
Ready for an intermediate ice cream method? If you have a food processer and the desire to go beyond the simple frozen banana method, Chow Hound will show you the ropes while using your favourite custard recipe.
Looking for the right food processor? Versatile and reliable, our research showed the Cuisinart Elemental to be the number one go-to for ice cream, as well as everything else your inner chef desires.
Want to go the extra mile? Visit your local ice cream factory for a tour behind the scenes and tasting. This is also a great way to support local businesses. If you live in Québec, Coaticook is a great day trip, as it is less than 2 hours South of Montréal and less than 3 hours from Québec city.
SAVINGS CHALLENGE | Ice cream isn’t all the Eastern Townships has to offer. Turn your day trip into a budget-friendly vacation with help from their Tourism site. Regardless of where you live, there are always plenty of free activities to choose from. As a family, little ones will love having their likes and dislikes considered. Make a list of your favourite activities and then make a day of it. Put the money you would have spent on a paid excursion or a night in a hotel away for a rainy day.
- Meal Plans | Did you know that your children are more likely to eat what’s on their plate when they’re included in the process? Studies show that when your kids can help choose what’s on the menu and can get involved in making the meal, it’s more pleasant for everyone.With the ever-increasing cost of groceries and the need for proper planning as work and home collide, meal planning is key. Make it a Sunday family tradition, have each family member be responsible for one meal – from planning to shopping to execution.
For younger children, ask them to pick one vegetable, one grain and one source of protein. Let them bag it themselves at the grocery store, and put it on the conveyor belt. If they are too little to cut the vegetables, let them wash them before prepping. Even if they are too young to measure out the ingredients, they are always willing to take care of the transfer from measuring cup to bowl or pan.
Do you have school-age children? Help them map out their favourite meal. Give them their list of ingredients to shop for at the grocery store. Let them handle appropriate age steps in the kitchen. Joie makes an excellent chopper for veggies and even meat. Norpro offers an excellent serrated knife that makes for easy work without the dangers of a sharp blade.
Are your children teenagers? Give them the benefit of the doubt and prepare them for adulthood. Assist them in the planning if necessary but let them lead as head chef. Not only is cooking a confidence booster, but it is also a proven way to bring families together. Just make sure the focus rests on a positive experience rather than micromanaging their every move and mistake.
A family recipe binder is a fun way to collect favourite recipes, ensure supper is always a hit and helps you keep track of which meals get the most out of your budget. Print them up with a pic of your child’s first go at it, have them decorate their recipe page and make your binder fun and colourful. You will be surprised how quickly this becomes a favourite part of their routine.
SAVINGS CHALLENGE | Can you schedule a week’s worth of meals, coming $20 under your weekly food budget? Find yourself with an extra $80 every month, or if you’re serious about saving, an additional $960 a year!
Have you been fielding a lot of the “I’m bored!” “What can we do now?” comments from your kids, while homebound because of Covid? Some activities won’t just make quarantine easier to bear, but will also create childhood memories for the everyday.
If you focus on backyard friendly sports and activities, you may find your kids can occupy themselves longer and more frequently. Who knows, they may even get along a little better!
- Obstacle Course | Not only is an obstacle course fully customizable, but you can also use things you already have on hand. Try using old pool noodles that no longer float as hoops to either jump in or toss something through. Use stones or sticks to create paths to follow or as throwing tools. Bring out an old sheet or blanket and set it up as a sandpit for testing their jumping skills. There are a million and one ideas, but make sure you let your kids have free reign, so long as it’s safe since they will be more likely to run with the ideas and love showing you how well they do.The Ninja line kit is trending in everyone’s backyard this summer. Buy a full kit or a few attachments at a time, depending on your budget or your child’s abilities. There’s nothing like filming your home video of Ninja Warriors.
- Nature Arts & Crafts | Your backyard can provide a creative outlet for your little artists. Rock painting is great for all ages and all interests. Do your kids love comic books and superheroes? Check out this Pinterest list of ideas. Are they more into princesses and rainbows? This list will keep them busy all summer. Painted rocks also make great presents for neighbours, friends and families.Nature art is also a great pastime, regardless of your native flora. Use grass, rocks, flowers, sticks, etc. to create masterpieces like mandalas, and add a little glue or tape to create a lasting masterpiece. Don’t forget to take a picture for the fridge! Nothing instills confidence like seeing their art hung up for all to admire.
- Scavenger Hunts | Scavenger hunts are a fun way to keep your kids busy, regardless of their age. Have your littles search for something of every colour in the rainbow. Use pictures and words for a nature hunt among kids of various ages. Hide some candy or gum along with harder clues or riddles to get your older children motivated to ditch their devices. Good Housekeeping has 22 ideas that will not disappoint.SAVINGS CHALLENGE | Fill a mason jar with backyard activities on scraps of paper. The next time your kids want to go to the movies, buy a toy (that they really, really don’t need and will end up forgotten days after you buy it) or get the latest paid app, suggest they pick an activity out of the mason jar. Take note of the money saved that you would have otherwise spent. At the end of the month, show your family how much you saved and vote on what to do with it. Save it for a family vacation, a meal out or an expensive activity you’ve all been interested in doing.
Looking for more ideas? Real Simple has over 40 fun summer activities for you and your family, during Covid‑19 or otherwise. Are you planning a staycation this summer? Here are a few more ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
SAVING MONEY ON THE SIDE
It probably seems impossible to save money when the cost of living is on the rise, and the cost of having children is… costly. There are two simple ways to help you save, even small amounts that build up over time.
- Count the Cost | Just like counting calories, writing down what you eat, can make a massive impact on prioritizing what is and isn’t worth eating, counting the cost is just as efficient. Writing down what you save, when you don’t go forward with spending, is as important as what you do spend. The visual account, the habit of exhibiting self-control, and the tally at the end of the month will have to notice how much you can save when you make small adjustments.
- Invest Wisely | Nervous about investing? Make it a family summer project to take a small amount and apply current interest rates. You can speed up the process to get an idea of how it would work by treating every week as you would a month. Not only will you get to give investing a trial run, but you will also be giving your children the chance to learn and appreciate the value of money and investments. If your current financial situation allows for it, take those earnings and invest them for real.
Not sure if your bank account can handle your summer plans? 24Cash is a local business based in Canada that provides various lending options to hardworking Canadians, determining the best loan that works for you. Get the most out of your summer with the simple click of a button.