With school out for the summer it's time to keep the kids busy, but at what cost? I'm about to sound like my Dad, but when I was a kid, we typically went on a family vacation during the summer. A week or 2 long trip somewhere camping or visiting an amusement park. The rest of the time I was out in the neighborhood figuring things out to do with my friends. Baseball, football, swimming, computer/ video games, riding bikes, etc.
Today parents seemed to be more of a social / event coordinators when it comes to activities, then parents. I don't think my mom or dad ever use the words play date when I was a kid. I know times have changed and the freedoms that were true for me as a child are not the same for my 3 children. So planning is more part of the day and age we live in. I think about my birthday parties growing up. Most of mine were at my home, we invited my friends over for some cake and ice cream, played a few games and that was about it. As I got older I took 2 or 3 friends to the movies. But that was about the extend of it. Today's Birthday parties have created an industry. From a number of business who's sole purpose it to host your child's party. I been invited to a 9 year old's party that had a DJ and catered food. I have hosted parties for my children at parties locations and in my backyard. Both types have at the same result. Good time had by all, but each cost very different price tag.
Summer time offers so many ways to spend money on your children. Daily camp, sports camp, music camp, movies, water parks, beaches, pools, summer toys, water guns, water toys, ice cream, etc.
Activities don't have to be grand to keep the kids interested or occupied. Pack a lunch and hit a park or beach. Hit the pool, plan a game day. Could be indoor or outdoors. Get a group of their friends together and plan a Olympic type event with several events basket ball, pool diving, volley ball, etc held at several different homes
I read a friends Facebook post recently which said something like I just had to punish my son. I had to take away an aisle from Best Buy and when I was a kid all I did was get sent to my room. He posted a picture of a laptop, cell phone, Nintendo DS, and x-box 360. Technology has sure changed. The handle held games of my day had a 9 volt battery and a few dashes on screen. Children have more technology at their disposal today them we did at there age. Challenge them with this technology. My son always wants to use the video camera to make videos. I told him to come up with a video idea, write it down and I will help him shot and edit it.
The bottom line is, the price tag doesn't make the experience. You and your children do. Keep it fun, stay within your budget and enjoy.
If all else fails, just buy them a pet.