Keeping kids busy can be costly

Many parents don’t realize just how active their children are all day until they have to keep them occupied during summer vacation. In addition to the adjustment you’ll have to make simply managing your time, summer vacation also means facing a greater challenge managing your money.

Most parents expect and are prepared for the big summertime expenses such as vacations, summer camps, and child care. However, summers also can get expensive in terms of finding day-to-day activities that keep children occupied. Trips to the movies, dollars for the arcade, swim toys, and meals-on-the-run can turn into budget breakers if you aren’t prepared. The good news is that there are a lot of activities oriented specifically to children that cost very little, if anything at all.

Check community resources. Some organizations, such as churches, 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 children by involving them in sports, swimming, crafts and reading. Speaking of reading, it should play an important role in your child’s life all year long, so don’t forget to visit your local library!

Spend time in the great outdoors. Many state parks offer such activities as hiking, canoeing, and swimming. These activities can be a healthy form of exercise and offer a great low cost great alternative to movies and video games.

Encourage their creativity. Many child development experts say that children learn the most when they are playing. Provide them with art supplies and put them in the backyard or garage, where it’s all right to get a little messy, and encourage their inner Van Gogh.

Share responsibilities. After spending day after day with their school mates, your children are used to constant companionship. Play dates can be a good way keep childhood friendships alive and to share parental responsibilities.  Or check out this video on how to start a babysitting co-op.

Explore your own backyard. With a little imagination, sprinklers can turn into water parks and wagons into amusement rides. 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.

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

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.