Summer of Fun
There’s a four-letter word we use frequently around our house during the summer. As I write this article, we are just a few weeks away from the end of school, and the word is already floating around our house, hanging in the air, making its way into our summer vocabulary.
If you have a handful of kids (or five!), you probably guessed our favorite word before I gave any hints – free.
We say it loud and long during the financially draining months of summer. Here’s a sample conversation:
Kid: “Mom, can we ____________ today?”
Me: “Is it free?”
Kid: Rolls eyes, and meanders back to the other kids, trying to come up with a better, cheaper, mom-approved plan.
The best part about free is that it requires zero math skills to calculate the cost. Five times zero equals ZERO. And that’s where I like it. Because with five kids at home who want to be entertained and are constantly hungry, free is where it’s at for us during the summer.
Here’s a little list of some of our favorites.
This one is pretty obvious and is usually one of the first on our list. If you haven’t stepped foot in a local library lately, you’re missing out. Libraries have evolved since I was kid. We borrow books, use the computers, borrow DVDs, participate in free activities (including LEGO building, craft making and free entertainment). The best part (according to my five kids) is the library offers rewards for reading. When I work during the summer, their sitter loads them up and takes them all around Houma-Thibodaux, using the coupons they receive for reading books.
If you’re not familiar with Clark Creek Natural Area, you might think I wrote the wrong word, because surely there are no waterfalls near south Louisiana. Well, you would be wrong! We hike the waterfalls at Clark Creek every single summer, sometimes twice or three times a summer. This is a day trip, but it creates tons of memories all wrapped up in a beautiful nature hike and waterfalls. Pack a lunch and picnic on the trail. It’s a beautiful outing that will make you feel like you’re hours away from Louisiana.
So this one is pretty random, but it was on our list two years ago, and we never got to do it. So it’s happening this summer. We are going to walk through the tunnel. Why? Because we want to. We are also going to walk as far over the tunnel as we can and peer across the Intracoastal Canal. This makes us dorks, I know, but I promise we all want to do it this summer. Because if you haven’t walked through our local tunnel, are you really living? (Plus, it’ll let me teach them about how the Intracoastal Canal was made – but don’t tell my kids. They think it’s just going to be fun.)
Each summer, each kid cooks a meal or two. They pick the recipes, make sure we have the groceries, and cook our family a meal. It’s not technically free, since you have to buy groceries, but we have to buy groceries anyway, so it’s no additional expense, which makes it technically free, right? It teaches them the basics of cooking and it’s a few hours of fun with each individual kid. Plus, it allows them see how hard cooking can be and how maybe they should tell their mom thanks for cooking. So that’s a win-win.
Vacation Bible School
So many churches in our area offer Vacation Bible School. If your kids are 12 and under, that’s the age of most VBS programs. If they’re over 12, your preteen or teen can volunteer to help. If you happen to have free time and aren’t working, adults make good volunteers too. This is something we participate in as a family every year, and one we plan on being a part of until we are too old to help out.