A little planning and creativity can keep the fun flowing and the stress levels down. While we all want our kids to have fun, and want to spend quality time together as a family, you don't have to drive yourself crazy coming up with ideas or doing what you think "should" be done. In addition to the ideas and events in the links above, here are some general tips to keep your family having fun.
- Keep it simple. Kids -- especially young kids -- don't need elaborate events and attractions to hold their attention. Look for activities that align with their ages and interests, but don't rule out the simple stuff: local playgrounds, beaches, hiking trails, playgroups, boxes of "dress-up" clothes, cardboard boxes, paper tubes, plastic cups, and more. Kids have amazing imaginations and can have fun with just about anything! Browse the links above for some ideas.
- Utilize your local resources. Libraries can be an amazing resource of free entertainment and information. Check out the "Public Libraries" link for more information. You can also look into your local parks and recreation department for fun activities and events, especially in the summer. Many will offer free community events, such as concerts or fireworks, in addition to the paid activities. Don't forget to look into nearby towns, as well. You don't have to be a resident to participate in most activities.
- Look in unlikely places. To entice potential customers, some businesses will offer events for kids, too. Home Depot and Lowe's will host project days. AC Moore, Michaels, and JoAnn will have kids' craft days. Many of these activities are free, though some may have a small cost to cover supplies. (You may have to register for events, though -- check out the company's website for more info.) You can also keep an eye out for grand openings -- they often include freebies and excitement, and some may even include music, free food, and entertainment. And some businesses will just host events to draw people in.
- Pack your own lunch if possible. Many events and attractions will let you bring in your own food. You may not be able to eat directly inside of a museum, for example, but there are often benches or picnic tables right outside the entrance or close to the attraction's own eating area. This will not only save you the expense of buying attraction-priced food, but it will also save the time, stress and aggravation of standing in line and waiting for said food with hungry, cranky children in tow. We have done this many times, and it has made the day go by much more smoothly and pleasantly -- plus saved a small fortune. Check the attraction's website for any restrictions. If you're not able to bring the food in, it may still be worth it to pack your own lunch and leave it in a cooler in the car.
A Quick Tip
While it's always nice to save money and pay as little as possible for a day of fun, keep in mind that the organizations hosting free events are often doing so as fundraisers, in addition to bringing communities together. If you do have a little money to spare, give back a bit while you're there. The organizations appreciate it, and it will help ensure these events keep taking place!