How to manage your kids & your budget during summer vacation

Keeping children occupied during the summer can get expensive.  Trips to the movies, swim lessons, toys, and meals-on-the-run can quickly turn into budget breakers.  Here are some kid-friendly ways to enjoy a fun and frugal summer.

-Take a hike.  Parks offer such activities as hiking, biking, canoeing, and swimming.  These activities can be a healthy form of exercise and offer a low cost great alternative to TV and video games. 
-Share responsibilities.  Swap sitting time with a friend or neighbor to share parental responsibilities.   Or, if you are more organized than I am, you can join or start a babysitting coop.
-Tap community resources.  Some organizations, such as the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs, provide programs that include regular activities for kids of all ages. And in addition to being inexpensive, they benefit the kids by involving them in sports, swimming, and crafts. 
-Check out a library.  Reading should play an important role in your child’s life all year long, so don’t forget to visit your local library.
-Encourage their creativity.  Many child development experts say that children learn the most when they are playing. Provide them with art supplies and encourage their inner Van Gogh
-Explore your own backyard.  Something as simple as planting seeds and watching them grow can be fun and educational.  Take a nature walk in your own neighborhood to notice of the amazing array of bugs, birds, and plants normally taken for granted.  Finally, don’t forget that there is a reason they are called “the lazy days of summer.”  Summertime is designed for taking it easy, so don’t stress too much about planning every minute.  Even active children need a break and should be allowed to learn the art of relaxation.  If you aren’t buying it, check out these 94 ways to keep kids busy from

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.