~A Parental Survival Guide for a School-Deprived Summer~
As a recent inductee into the wonderful world of a stay-at-home parent, I’m totally freaking out! The last day of school is imminent and I can already hear those dreaded words: I’m bored! So, I’ve decided to take a page from my days in the corporate world: Research, Prepare and Execute. Don’t let your kids catch you unprepared or you’re destined for long hot summer days with cranky kids. Here are some cool ideas and tips to keep your little ones begging for bedtime at the end of the day (isn’t that our ultimate goal, anyway?)
- Libraries are Lively! Check out your local library for FREE programs for all ages. From story times to fun with reading, math and science, there is something interactive for everyone. Some programs require pre-registration for a nominal cost (i.e. $3). Did you know Libraries carry a large variety of blockbuster movies … for free!? Visit your local Library today!
- Cooling Down at Splash Pads & Community Centres. On a hot summer day check out the splash pads in your neighbourhood. For fun, check your city’s website for the splash pads throughout your city and visit a new one each week. Don’t forget your local community centre for a cool dip on a rainy day. At most community centres a family of four can swim for less than $30 for an entire month. Check out the Parks & Recreations in your city today!
- Pick Your Berries & Eat Them Too! Plan a picnic at a local farm and pick your favourite fruits & veggies. This is a great way to spend time with the kids andsneak in a little lesson on the importance of supporting local farms. Check out this parent-friendly website to narrow down which farms produce your preferred fruit: www.ontario.farmvisit.com.
- Michaels Arts & Crafts Store = No Glue & Glitter in YOUR Living Room! Kids can get creative at Michael’s with FREE classes where they can explore the wonderful world of cutting, pasting and creating a new project each week. Visit a store nearest you for more details or check out: www.michaels.com
- Home Depot Kids Workshop: Yes, they will give your kid a hammer but, they actually learn something. Every first Saturday of the month Home Depot hosts a Kids Workshop for ages 5-12 years old. Kids will learn tool safety and build really neat projects to take home (and they get to wear the cutest little orange apron similar to the one’s the associates wear in the stores). Visit a store nearest you or check out: www.homeimproverclub.com
- Ontario Early Years Centres – FREE activities: Put your tax dollars to work by taking advantage of the FREE activities provided through these provincial centres. These centres are a great place for parents and caregivers with children from birth to age 6 years old. Try out a centre near you especially on a rainy day! There are tons of toys that won’t end up sprawled across your home. During the summer, some centres are even providing FREE activities in local parks for all ages. Check out their website for a location near you www.ontarioearlyyears.ca
- Surprising City Summer Fun: Various cities throughout the GTA are providing FREE outdoor concerts and movies for the entire family. Throughout the summer the Cities of Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga will be showing movies in and around their City Halls. Check your city’s website for more details. Amusement Parks: Choose Wisely, Spend Less! Not all amusement parks are created equal. For kids under 10 years old the larger theme parks often have less rides for them and cost more. Parks like Centre Island are perfect for this age group and the entire family. There are age appropriate rides and beautiful green acres of picnic grounds. On July 17 & 18th there will be FREE activities for children. For more details log onto www.centreisland.ca
- Check out the Drum Café at the Toronto Zoo where the entire family can join in the fun. This interactive show will feature accomplished artists twice daily. In addition to over 5000 fascinating animals, your kids will love the water park and so will you at NO EXTRA COST . For more details log onto: www.torontozoo.ca and click on 2010 Events.
TIPS & IDEAS
- Theme Days: This may take some organization, but the pay off is sooo worth it. Create a calendar of summer fun and post it where the entire family can see what’s happening. Choose a day for water fun, another day for fun with reading at the Library, followed by an Arts & Crafts day, and perhaps end of the week picnics etc. Together you all can decide how to make the most of this summer.
- Limit Amusement Park trips to 1 or 2 times during the summer depending on your budget. Activities within your neighbourhood will enhance your children’s appreciation for their city.
- Surprise Snacks: You’re out & about with your kids having a great time when you hear that horrid sound: the ice cream truck! Whether you’re at an amusement park or your local splash pad, try counteracting with one of your child’s favourite sweet treats. Whether it’s chocolate chips cookies or freezies from your portable cooler, just imagine the look on your child’s face when you pull out their kryptonite. The key is: DO NOT let them see you pack it at home because it will become travel food!
- Timing is Everything! It really is true that the early bird catches the worm. When venturing to an amusement park try to arrive when the park opens (typically around 10a). Yes, you will have to get the kids out of the house earlier, but there are less lines to contend with which means more time for rides. This eliminates the need to squeeze in as many rides as possible before the park closes. Although lines can also be shorter as closing time approaches, there may also be large crowds trying to exit the park at the same time. If you arrive early, you get home earlier which means you may still be able to salvage a quiet evening! Special Travel Note: Going to amusement parks in the weekday can also eliminate large crowds, but be sure to schedule your travel time after rush hour.
- Collect Points & Spend LESS money! Take advantage of the points you’ve accumulated throughout the months and redeem them for some summer fun. Cash in your points for tickets to amusement parks and even the movies. It may take years to save up for a flight, but smaller items like tickets and gift certificates are easily attainable. Check out these popular reward websites: www.airmiles.ca and www.hbc.com/hbcrewards.
- HAVE FUN! Above all enjoy the time with your kids by participating as much as you can. Playing with kids is always a great cardio workout! Remember: you’re never too old to have fun.
Check back regularly for updated events, tips and ideas. Questions and suggestions are always welcome so drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Wrtten by: Dinah Whitton
Dinah Whitton is a Freelance Writer and the proud Mother of two beautiful/rambunctious girls: 6 yr old Ebony & 2 yr old Moriah. After spending over a decade in the corporate world, the winds of change ushered Dinah into her dream job: Stay-At-Home Mom. In between soccer and swimming practices she also operates Lady D’s Homemade Desserts (specializing in classic homemade desserts like cupcakes & cookies … just like Grandma’s!). Dinah and her husband, Michael, are happily raising their children in Mississauga Ontario.