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Tips for a Happy Summer Break on a Budget

Updated: Jul 8

Most parents are familiar the mixed emotions that come with summer break. There is relief from a hectic schedule of activities and shuttling kids from one commitment to the next, and at the same time, feeling a little lost on how to keep everyone busy and harmonious under one roof until the school year resumes.


Here are a few tips to help you and your family enjoy the break.


Stick to a Schedule

Summer break makes you feel like doing away with all the rules, but maintaining some routines is a good idea. Structured mealtimes, snacks, and regular bedtimes can help mitigate behavioral issues. Not only do proper nutrition and sleep serve as fuel for healthy activities, but they also help to regulate emotional wellness. Like you, kids are less cranky with a good night's sleep and a full belly.


Plus, summer is a time of transition. For those who struggle with anxiety, the shift away from seeing familiar friends and teachers daily can be upsetting. Keeping a few predictable activities in the day can help kids feel in control and ease their anxiety during this time of uncertainty.    

kids doing crafts at a table


Give Kids a Choice

It sometimes feels impossible to keep kids busy and engaged throughout the summer without excessive screen time. However, having just a few easy-access activities ready for kids to dive into can be a game changer

, especially when they get to choose how they want to spend their time. Giving kids a sense of autonomy can help build confidence and limit behavioral challenges.


  • Crafts – keep little hands busy with supplies you have at home. Here are a few ideas to get started.

  • Reading – let them choose their favourite book, read it, talk about it, and then encourage them to illustrate their favorite part of the story or come up with a different ending.

  • Library days – check your local library for a schedule of story time and other free activities throughout the summer, and make it a part of your weekly routine.

  • Get cooking! – Whether they're helping you make a meal or baking treats for the week, cooking is a great way to keep kids busy and interest picky eaters in new foods. When they have a hand in making it, they are more likely to want to give it a taste test.

  • Play a game - board games are great if you have them, but even a deck of cards can be a lot of fun. From memory games to Go Fish, cards can be entertaining and help build early math literacy skills.  Find card games for kids here.


And don't forget that screen time doesn't have to be a dirty word. Moderation and supervision are the keys to maintaining a healthy balance.


Get moving!

There are plenty of ways to get moving, and like proper nutrition and sleep, staying active helps keep our bodies and minds healthy and happy. Getting your kids to organized day camps might be challenging with your schedule or cost-prohibitive, but staying active doesn't have to squeeze your budget.


  • Playgrounds – neighborhood playgrounds make it easy to squeeze in activity at any time of day. Spice it up with a bike ride or drive to explore a new playground each week.

  • Go for a bike ride! Don't have a bike? Check out used listings on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji. If you need an even more budget friendly option, a Google search of free bikes in your area will bring up a number of not-for-profits supporting local communities with refurbished and donated bikes.

  • Beach day – pack a lunch and some sunscreen and enjoy the sand and the waves.

  • Geocaching – discover how you and your whole family can set out a treasure hunt adventure. Learn more here.


Remember, if you plan to spend time in the sun, do it safely. Learn more about sun protection and staying hydrated at these links.



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