I don’t know about you, but my summers fly by. I longingly look at the calendar all spring, only to realize a moment later that it’s the end of August! This year I’m going in with a plan. I will think about all that I want to accomplish, big and small and prepare to make them happen.

The Beach

With our six kids ranging in age from 3-14, there is rarely an activity for everyone. But I know one thing for sure, everyone loves the beach.

I’ve been fairly successful at getting to a beach at least a couple of times per month every summer. This year’s goal however is to get there every single week! We don’t make it complicated though.

We pack a picnic lunch, a few snacks, and enough drinks to ensure no one gets thirsty. On a rare occasion we might grill at the beach, but since I don’t want to overcomplicate our excursions, we save it for special outings.

I have a special bag of beach supplies ready to go. We include things like sunblock, bug spray, shovels, pails, goggles, and maybe a frisbee. In a separate bag, I have the towels. Since they are sure to all get dirty, this bag goes straight to the washing machine when we get home so they are ready to go for our next adventure.

Then come the swimsuits. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to keep a swimsuit clean in the summer. To combat the “I can’t find my suit” problem, I purchase two suits per kid. It seems like a waste of money, but it saves my sanity.

The last thing we do is add any special extras. Sometimes we bring our kayak for the older kids to play with. Other times we bring a couple bikes for them to roam around in. This all depends on my own personal state of mind that morning. If the kids aren’t cooperating, and I’m stuck doing more than I should, then no extras. Hopefully if motivates them to cooperate more the next week.

The Library

Another weekly activity I want to better implement is visiting the library. When my oldest two children were little, we went to the library every week and sometimes more! But the more kids we had, the less often we went. To be precise, we stopped going.

This year I want my little ones to be able to enjoy the “Summer Reading Programs” offered at our local library branch. I have fond of memories of filling up my library sticker sheet with titles of books I had read to receive rewards each summer, and I want my little ones to have those memories too.

I know this will take planning, and naps will have to be just right in order to complete execution, but I think I’m up for the task.

Even with a thousand books on the shelves at home, my kids get bored with doing the same old thing. I’m sure we can burn up a few hours a week on fresh, free (if I return them on time) books from the library.

Local Museums & Zoos

We are pretty avid museum and zoo patrons. At any given time we usually hold memberships for at least a couple. We’ve found that by having a membership, and being able to attend multiple times a year, we are able to relax more each time we are there, because we don’t feel the need to rush through each exhibit.

Most family memberships range in price from $70-$100. Most come with benefits such as free parking, shorter lines, reduced priced programs, and gift shop discounts. To be honest, those things never really mean much to us. Ten percent off in the gift shop doesn’t mean much to a mom who doesn’t let her kids even look at the signs for the gift shops.

But one benefit that has really made membership worth its weight in gold is something called a reciprocal membership. A lot of zoos, science museums, and history museums are members of larger organizations that give you access to other locations for free or a reduced rate.

There are a lot of options around us that many people don’t know about. Three organizations that have members across the country are; Association of Science and Technology Centers, Time Travelers, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

We have been a part of all three organizations and have visited dozens of museums, historical sites, and zoos that participate in their reciprocity programs in the states surrounding ours.

Parades and Towns Festivals

You cannot forget about all the free activities right in your own neighborhood! If we wanted to attend local festivals every week, we could. Check out your local newspapers’ index of local events. You’ll find a treasure trove of free and low cost events.

While the big crowds and loud noises may not be for everyone, sometimes it can be a blast to be surrounded by a community of people enjoying their summer time together.

You will find things like food fairs, fireworks, concerts, parades, kid’s events, and much more.

And if bringing the kids to such events scares the living daylights out of you, how about date night? Or a night out with the gals? It’s definitely a time of year where there is plenty of fun to be had by all.

I hope you’ve been encouraged to put a summer plan into action I know I’m looking forward to the enrichment of the summer months!

See you at the beach!

Esther Aspling

Author Esther Aspling

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