By Jenny Jiménez on May 23, 2019
Good Afternoon. Sorry this is late but I wanted to get it out today. With the holiday approaching and warm weather already here (or close to it for most of us) I figured I would let you know what I did to pass time with Elisa and Jonah when they were little. Remember I was a single mom and little to no money to spend and as most parents know, young kids bore easily and it’s best to keep them entertained (to some extent anyway) during the summer months.
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I’m a planner and found that I was at peace when I had a plan in place. I’ve always worked full time so I usually tried to plan anywhere from 1-3 activities to do together weekly. During the day Elisa and Jonah were usually in a summer program through the daycare in their school. Most grade schools in Lehigh Valley, PA have a daycare attached to the building. The daycare generally has it’s own entrance. I used that entrance to drop off and pick up the kids each day. Well during the summer the daycare ran more like a camp. They had activities planned throughout the week that included swimming but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Each year they would give me a calendar that included all the activities they had planned for the summer. They generally took one field trip per week. This trip could be the movies, miniature golf or other local things going on and then they would swim three days a week. So for example, they may swim Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays so the field trips would be on a Tuesday or Thursday. Young kids love to swim. It kept them active and allowed them to spend all that time with friends swimming. Who wouldn’t love that, right? lol
I can easily go off on a rant so let me pull myself back. Each each, around April I think, I would purchase a t-shirt for each of the kids that had the daycare name on it so they can be identified on field trips and paid for all of their field trips for the summer. It usually wasn’t to expensive, again since most things were local so approximately $50 per child. Then I would purchase a family swimming pass for $99 and that included admission to all of the local pools in Bethlehem. The daycare would make a copy of the passes to keep on file to present when they went swimming and I usually had the originals. Whenever the kids wanted to go swimming with me, we had the pass. It was so much cheaper buying the family pass than paying each time.
As Elisa and Jonah outgrew daycare, I found that our local community center had a similar program that ran from 8am – 1pm each week day so similarly I bought them shirts and paid for all the field trips. Ladies if you are questioning whether or not to do something like this, remember, it beats them being lazy in bed all day. Yup that’s right, I said it. And, you’ll know that they’re in a safe place while you’re at work. That’s peace in itself. The other parks where I used to live had a FREE program that allowed the children to go from 8am -12pm weekdays. They provided breakfast and lunch for the kids but did not do field trips. I just want to let you know that you need to look but there are programs out there that are free. Most kids have cell phones and mine had simple ones back then for security reasons so they could call me as they walked to and from school (when they weren’t in daycare anymore) and to the park programs.
Soooo, the activities that I mention below are for when you are with your children.
7 FREE or Inexpensive Activities to do with young children:
1. LIBRARY EVENTS. Call your local library for a listing of local events they have setup. I usually went online and printed a calendar of all the library activities for the month so I could plan accordingly. Generally their events were free however often you do have to register for these events so they can get a headcount and have the right amount of materials needed for any crafts or enough food for both parents and children. I recall doing a camping themed event. There was a story-time and then the children and parents would split off into one of the tents set up indoors (their activity room) and work on an art project while making s’mores with marshmallow fluff. It was definitely memorable and FREE. The only cost to me was my time.
2. MOVIES IN THE PARK. In Bethlehem PA there are about five or six major parks in the area. I would go on to the city’s website (just google it) and click on their Parks and Recreation Tab. I recall the movies were done weekly. The online calendar or flyer would say what movie they were playing and at which park on that particular week.
As you can see by the image below, there are quite a bit of movies being played at the parks locally by me this summer and although my children are in their later teen years, we still enjoy these things together.
You’ll also notice the Summer Playground Program in the above image. That is the free park program I mentioned above in my intro. That got me thinking that Elisa and Jonah were both in their Tennis program for some time as well. I had to complete some forms but because I was a single mom, I did not pay any fees. They loved it.
Just look at this schedule for the movies. I’ll definitely be attending some.
3. PLAN A PICNIC. Sounds simple but sometimes this is all you need. Children need to learn to keep it simple sometimes. Bring a blanket, some picnic food and a few games to play. We would play music on our cell phone in the background while we ate and played board games. Yes, go find those board games you haven’t touched in years. This is the perfect time to bring them out. We also brought some balls and played catch or volleyball, depending on the park we went to. Overall, it’s about have some good quality time with the kids.
4. GO SWIMMING. If you’ve already purchased a family pool pass like I mentioned above then put them to some use. Trust me, the kids won’t mind that they already went swimming with their summer camp. I have yet to come across a younger kid who turns down the chance to go swimming.
5. PLAY MINIATURE GOLF. This one will cost you a little bit but it’s so worth it. Be sure to check Groupon and other sites for local coupons. I also always leave some money for ice cream after the game which most places do sell. Last year for fourth of July, there were thunderstorms all day here so Elisa, Jonah and I went to an indoor miniature golf course. They had an outdoor course as well but for obvious reasons we skipped that one. lol. The indoor course was glow in the dark so we had a fantastic time. There weren’t many people that day so we took our time and acted silly. It was so much fun. In fact, Elisa recently told me that shortly after, she and Jonah took their friends there also.
6. GO FOR A BIKE RIDE OR WALK. I usually love to save the hikes for fall but in the spring and summer, we love to go for long walks. This gives us some time to catch up and talk, without distractions, plus it counts as exercise… I mean talk about multi-tasking right? 😉
and finally, one of our favorites…
7. APPETIZER NIGHT. On these days, anything goes in my household as long as the menu is good! I like to make finger foods and freeze them so on these days (and for snacks in the afternoon) we can just heat it up. A lot of times we will watch a movie, or play a game or really anything…as long as there are appetizers. I don’t know what it is about miniature food that somehow makes it more special, ha!
I hope that the above list gives you some ideas to do this summer without breaking the bank because God knows we don’t want to do that. Oh and one more thing, remember to set some rules for these activities like no phones allowed! This is important so your kids learn the value of good quality time together.
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Have a wonderful and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!
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