Enjoying the Summer without Breaking the Bank

With a long stretch of warm weather behind us (with hopefully more to come!), there will be plenty of opportunities to get out and about as a family—taking leisurely evening walks, catching up with neighbours as the children play, dusting off the backyard pool. As the school holidays approach, however, talk often turns to summer holidays, and pressure can mount to make sure your summer plans measure up.

This can create huge pressure for parents that can’t manage a week or two in the sun or costly summer camps. This can bring on the much dreaded (but always partially present) parental guilt. “What if my children are the only ones missing out?” “What if they are bored and miserable all summer long?”

The good news is that, while most children do love adventure and a change to routine, this doesn’t have to cost a great deal. The most important thing they need is your time and attention and a sense of fun.  A water adventure park might give them a momentary thrill, but what children will really value from their childhood is the sense of safety, care and fun that they felt when they were with you.

A little effort and creativity can mean that your children have an amazing, memorable summer even if you do not go very far afield. Below are a few ideas for enjoying your “staycation.”

  • Explore a new playground. There are a number of lovely playgrounds across Limerick City and County. Try to visit a couple you have never been to and explore the local area while you are there. Bring a picnic, a blanket and a ball or games and you have the perfect afternoon out.
  • Check out the University of Limerick. Explore the campus and then head down the amazing pathway that runs into the city and to Corbally. This is a great place to do some family friendly cycling or see how many birds you can identify as you stroll along the river.
  • Explore the Great Southern Greenway Limerick and the newly opened loop that connects Rathkeale, Newcastlewest and Abbeyfeale. Again, this is a great place to cycle and the new loop will give a sense of proper adventure.
  • Get creative at home. Set up a simple tent (or make your own), light the bbq and spend your evening curled up under the stars. Get some chalk out and redesign your drive or get some planters and create your own magic garden (with or without fairies)
  • Do not under estimate the importance of friends, neighbours, cousins etc. Talk to your neighbours and friends and arrange to take part in activities together. Kids love hanging out with kids. Organise some activities on your local green or in your garden. Rotate between each other’s houses and take turns in organising “fun days”.
  • Finally, see what summer camps are available in your area. Summer camps can be fantastic experiences for children, but they are often expensive and out of reach for many parents. Many community centres, however, run camps free or at low cost so call in to one near you and find out what’s planned for the summer.

This article was written by a member of Parenting Limerick, a network of parenting and family support organisations. For more information on this and other topics go to www.loveparenting.ie.