The warm weather is upon us and that means a lot of things: outdoor activities like camping, hiking and bike riding, BBQing and beverages on the patio, drive-in movies and late night walks. It also means school’s out and your kids will be home for the next 3 months. If you children are old enough, they may get summer jobs, visit relatives they haven’t seen in awhile but one thing is for certain; they’re going to get bored. How can you keep your kids occupied and out of trouble for the summer?

Sign your family up for a volunteer experience at least once a week. Helping out within your community is does as much good for you kids as it does the people they’re helping. Serving the homeless food, playing with other kids in need, keeping the elderly company and cleaning pets’ cages. Older kids can help with causes such as building houses for those in need and driving the elderly and disabled on errands and appointments.

Get your kids out on the water, either on a boat, canoe or paddle boat — fresh air and create incredible families moments on the lake or ocean. You can buy a new boat but it’s not necessary because there are gently used and refurbished boats are available for hundreds or even thousands less than you’d expect to spend. This is just the kind of wise investment your family can make to have bonding experiences all summer — fish together, enjoy quiet time and even share meals on your boat’s deck.

Keep those young minds active by holding a family book club — everyone in the family, Mom and Dad included, reads the same book (appropriate for your kids’ reading levels) and discusses it each week. You can also read some of the book aloud to each other during your weekly meetings. Let the older kids read their own books and not read the family book chosen for the younger ones; keep it unified by having everyone report on the same theme each week — as long as everyone’s reading something, your kids will be learning without even realizing it.

One skill that every single person needs to be at least adequate is cooking and your kids can benefit from learning how early on. Use the free time they have this summer to teach them to cook, start by asking them to be your assistants — helping out with measuring wet and/or dry ingredients. Eventually, you can act as their assistant and by the time they’re in middle school, they can cook on their own and the whole family can alternate whose turn it is to cook.

Take a weekend trip to the nearest metropolitan area and enjoy the plethora of museums, zoos, aquariums and other cultural centres not typically found in the suburbs. Top it off with some fun shopping, great dining and playing in the park. Even if you live in a bustling city, take a trip to you or your spouse’s hometown or visit a historical place that’s not nearby.

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