Budgeting children’s summer activities

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Farm Forum

School is out. What summer activities do you have planned? Do you know how you will entertain your children all summer long without straying from your budget?

Many parents see their bills go higher in the summer as they pay for activities like camp, summer classes, sports leagues, trips, meals out, etc.

Why consider them?

Many activities give your child the opportunity to develop friendships and expand their social interaction. They can build character and increase their confidence. Many activities also provide structured exercise and helps work off some of their energy. The main reason may be to have fun and provide a great experience for your child and family.

How much do they cost?

As you determine whether an activity will fit in your budget, consider the following:

• Is there a registration fee and how much?

• Will travel for the child or parents be involved? This may include gas to drive to and from practice, games, snacks, meals out, and other incidental costs.

• Do you need equipment or uniforms?

• Factor in what it will cost your family. Will it require you to take time off work?

Some parents take pride in how busy and stressed their lives are and those of their kids, as if it is a measure of success. Sit down with the entire family and discuss what you can physically and financially afford to do. Not everything needs to cost a lot of money. Below are some ideas.

Inexpensive ideas for summer fun:

• Turn your back yard into a campsite.

• Go on a picnic, have a scavenger hunt, or an outdoor Olympics.

• Have a summer reading contest at home.

• Have a do it yourself workshop – gather supplies around the house. An example would be a craft project, or sewing project.

• Go on a nature walk – the whole family will get some exercise.

• Have a family movie night – borrow a movie, or check one out from the library.

• Free day camps – see if there are any in your area such as fishing, crafts, archery, etc.

• Check out the local library event calendar to see what is available.

• Build a fort – outside or in – using a cardboard box, sheets, chairs, etc.

Tips in finding some balance:

• Have the courage to say no if you are over extended, or if you do not have the financial resources.

• Be sure you have family time. Families should have time to eat meals together, plus have family time during the week. Family time is not sitting on the bench watching them play ball.

• Everyone needs a little down time each week.

• Maybe you want to take a family vacation over a summer camp.

• Make sure you and your children get enough sleep. Don’t over program kids so this does not happen.

Reach Karen Slunecka at 605-626-2870 or karen.slunecka@sdstate.edu.