Entertaining Your Kids Over the Summer on a Budget

Summer vacation will be here in the blink of an eye. Your kids can't wait to get out of school, but as a parent, you may already be dreading it. How are you supposed to keep them entertained all day every day--especially if you're on a tight budget? Check out some of these strategies for entertaining the kids without breaking your budget.

1. Visit the Library

Many libraries today have far more than just books. They also offer movies, video games, and even board games and other materials. Make visiting the library part of your weekly vacation routine. Your kids won't just be entertained during the trip. They'll also bring home plenty of great items!

2. Hold a Yard Sale

Summer is a great time to sort through all those items gathering dust in your kids' closets and toy boxes. Encourage the kids to dig through and find any items that they don't want anymore, then hold a yard sale. Not only will you get rid of items you don't need anymore and keep the kids busy for a few days, but you'll also be able to earn money toward some of the other activities you want to enjoy.

3. Look Up Local Free Days

Many local zoos, museums, and other fun hangouts offer free days that are perfect for entertaining your kids. Take a look at when your local free days are expected. Some museums may even offer free or discounted admission on a certain day of every week or month! Create a schedule of those great fun activities and explore all of the things your kids can do for free.

4. Take Sidewalk Chalk Pictures

Get outside in your driveway with a pack of chalk and all of your creativity. Encourage the kids to create fantastic, creative pictures that reflect their dreams. You can send them to space in a rocket ship, blow kisses, or create an underwater adventure: the sky's the limit! Then, take pictures of the kids' artwork and their adventures. Where possible, invite the kids to include themselves in the pictures for extra fun.

5. Design Your Own Playhouse

If you have a large cardboard box sitting around, you're already set! If not, visit local home improvement stores or big box stores and ask for their biggest box. Then, take it home. Depending on what's left of the box, you may have one side open already. If not, cut out doors and windows. Invite the kids to color or paint the box. Decorate the inside with items you already have sitting around the house: a kiddie table and chairs, for example, or a "bed" made of fuzzy blankets. Not only is simply designing the playhouse entertaining, but you'll also have a great hideout where your kids can play all summer long.

6. Hold a Water Gun Fight

The summer heat can make it difficult to keep everyone outside. Cool off with a water gun fight! With just a few dollar store water guns, you can get outside, cool off, and love every minute of it. Feeling a little more creative? Give each kid a white shirt, then fill the water guns with paint instead of water. You'll get some amazing, fun shirts that reflect your kids' creativity. They'll love wearing them year-round--or perhaps even adding to the fun and color!

7. Explore Your Local Parks

Many times, there are hidden treasures in your own backyard that you never even knew existed. Do a little searching online and learn more about parks in your local area. Then, go exploring! Commit to checking out one new park a week. Be willing to go a little beyond your usual haunts to explore, even though it takes longer to get there. You never know: you just might find a new favorite park.

There are so many fun things to do over the summer that you and your kids may never get around to them all. Even with a tight budget, these great ideas will allow you to explore and play--and keep the kids too busy to fight with one another.