by Julie Jaggernath
It’s that time of year: kids are counting the sleeps until school is done for the summer and parents are looking at all of their options to survive the summer with relative household harmony. So what can we do to keep our kids busy and out of trouble, without having to re-mortgage our home to pay for their fun?
Tips to Survive the Summer Financially Intact
Many parents dread finding affordable ways to keep their kids busy over the long summer break, and kids both young and older need things to do so that they stay out of trouble. Starting early and involving your kids in the planning process can help everyone have a great break from school without breaking the bank.
1. Involve Your Kids in Choosing their Activities & Events
If your kids have a say in how their time is planned, they’re much more likely to enjoy what they’re doing. Ask them what they would like to do, or send them searching for information about different activities.
You might want to include a lazy first week or two of summer holidays in the plans so that they can kick back and enjoy the break from school.
To make it easier to get back into a school routine and to avoid the shock of September mornings, consider registering for a local day camp the last week of August. Choose a camp that runs close to school hours, e.g. a sports or video camp at your local school.
2. Manage Out-of-School Care Costs for Younger Kids
If your kids are younger, find a balance between more costly activities (e.g. camps), day trips, family time and free/low-cost fun. Visiting family in another city may not spell doom and gloom if they get to choose the activities that week. For tweens, you might want to consider skill-building courses, e.g. leadership, language, sports or music day-camps for things that they’re passionate about.
3. Hang Loose
Kids want some time to hang with their friends, so plan time for them to do that. For younger kids, try trading off supervision or daycare duties with friends or family. For teens, just hanging with friends can spell trouble. Instead, have your teen plan what they want to do with their friends and then organize a parent-taxi schedule to get them to and fro. That way, without being intrusive, you know who your teens are with and what they’re up to.
4. Getting Work Experience & Gaining Financial Skills
You might be surprised to find out that your teen would like to fit in some part-time or volunteer work during the summer. Help them look for opportunities close to home or close to your work so that their schedule can be accommodated more easily.
Any work experience they get will not only look great on their resume but boost their bottom line when it comes time to shop for back to school! Volunteer experience is also all but mandatory for scholarship and bursary applications as your teen considers their post-secondary years.
5. Avoid Over-Scheduling
The school year can be very busy for many families and September will roll around again before you know it. No matter how old your kids are, some quality down-time at home over the summer doesn’t cost extra and can be a relaxing break.