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How to Save on Family Summer Entertainment

Michelle Stinson Ross

How many of you equate summertime with, "Mom, I'm bored?" With three kids at home, I absolutely feel your pain. Summer can present challenges in finding entertainment when it's too hot or too rainy to be outside. If your family is anything like mine, finding one activity they will all enjoy can be a challenge. Then, there's always the budget. What can we do that won't drain the bank account?

Finding fun, family entertainment shouldn't take tons of cash. It does, however, require a little time and some smart thinking. Check out these proven winners that will keep families from tots to teens entertained all summer long.

Summer Movies

All over the country, movie theaters are opening early and offering free or nearly free family-friendly films. Most kids, even teens, love the chance to see a favorite movie on the big screen, and rain can't even ruin this activity. There are some things you need to keep in mind about summer movies, though. Usually, the options are limited to one or two movies. When the showing for that day is full, the ticketing staff will apologize and suggest you try again the next day. But with a little planning and motivation, you should be able to get the kids out of the house in time to enjoy the show.

Story Time

Even in smaller towns where there might not be a movie theater, there is usually a local library offering activities for younger kids. Encourage a lifelong love of books early in your child's life by going to hear a story read aloud at the library. Even if you have some older children, a trip to the library is a chance to explore all kinds of topics of interest. While you're there, do a little checking into other activities offered to the community. There's a good chance you'll find art classes, craft projects and much more that will pique the interests of your family.

Community Events

Whether you live in a big city or a tiny town, warm summer evenings are the perfect excuse to plan community events. Checking community websites and the local papers should provide you with opportunities to see and do lots of things. Do your kids like to draw? Take them to an art festival. Do your kids love to sing? Check out the local live music events. All summer long, community centers and museums open their doors to families with free admissions or special events.

Youth Sports

Even if your kids don't play a particular sport, attending the games of friends or family is a fun way to spend some time together. Depending on the particular league, the admissions might be free or at least much less expensive than a college or professional sporting event. Some events will let you bring in your own food and drinks due to limited concessions. What's more fun than cheering on players you actually know?

Put on a Show

Often the best entertainment can be found in our own backyard. Unleash your children's creativity and help them put on a play. Turn the backyard pool into a pirate adventure. Let the kids take over the back porch to put on a concert. Invite grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins over to watch the event. You'd be amazed how older children will stick to a project like this if you promise to help them record it and post it to YouTube or Vimeo to share. These are the activities that will become cherished memories into adulthood.

These solutions for family summer entertainment are a few that my family counts on, but they are only the tip of the summer fun iceberg. Tap into the digital world around you. Believe it or not, we found several great ideas on Pinterest. For those of you that are well connected on Facebook, give a shout out to your friends and family that have children the same age as yours. Ask for ideas that worked for them.

No matter how you discover new options for the cure to "Mom, I'm bored," summer is a great time to get creative and have tons of fun.

Michelle Stinson Ross is the social marketing manager at Offers.com. She's a working mother of three teens and a digital diva who loves a great deal.

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