Mommy I'm Bored: 25 Frugal Ways to Beat Summer Boredom

By Frugal Duchess on 14 July 2009 17 comments
Photo: OliverAlex

My 9-year-old daughter does not go to camp until later this month. That's when her drama camp begins. But the plot has already thickened in my house with a steady chorus of: Mommy, I'm Bored!

Here's what we're doing to cure the summer blues:

25 Frugal Things to Do with Kids.

1. Write a book. My daughter has written a how-to-manual for kids. It's a short guide about fixing everyday problems. She has typed up the book and I want her to create pictures. Meanwhile, a close friend suggests another project: Mommy, I'm Bored.

2. Crafts at the library: In addition to story hour, one of our local branches offered a free craft hour. My daughter made a bookmark and decorated a small wooden box.

3. Dissect old machinery: With tools and light supervision, my daughter and a friend spent hours investigating the guts of an old machine. They learned a lot and enjoyed the process.

4. Start a reading club (with other children)

5. Go to the Beach, the playground or a park.

6. Check out free programs at public buildings, museums and malls.

7. Visit botanical gardens. We found a $5 yoga class and low-cost art instructions at one of the local (public) gardens.

8. Play There are lots of games and money-related activities at My daughter has actually learned a lot about commerce from this site. Kids adopt electronic pets and then are responsible for feeding, housing and entertaining their pets. Kids can play games or set up a store or shop. I like to play the slot machines in the game arcade. It's a frugal way to gamble. I get the thrill of the casino without the expense.

9. Go for a walk.

10. Cook.

11. Shop for food. We went to the grocery store today. My daughter put together her wish list: ice cream, berries, whip cream and cookie crisp cereal. We had fun.

12. Write a letter: My daughter has written a cute, cute letter to my folks. I have to remember to mail it.

13. Start a craft project

14. Go to a yard sale, flea market or estate sale

15. Surf the Internet for vacation ideas.

16. Looking for old-school games on the Internet. My daughter Googled "marbles" and found a lot of marble games. She and a friend printed out the instructions and played marbles.

17. Watch Also try, and

18. Free movie camps. I've written about this in the past (last June) and here is the link to my story. Basically, many of the major movie chains have free movie mornings for families.

19. Create a "summer buddy program." My daughter called around looking for play dates and friends to share in new activities.

20. Co-worker program. I gave my daughter an assignment to interview my parents about how they paid for college expenses. It was a win-win-win. I really needed the information; she pretended to be a reporter and the grandparents were happy to chat with her. (She enjoyed herself also.)

21. Rent videos from the library. The children's selection of our local library is great.

22. Start a parent-child summer book club. I am reading the same book as my 12-year-old son. We've had some insightful short chats and I will take him out for pizza and we'll really discuss the book in depth.

23. Find them a job. For one afternoon, my daughter worked as a mother's helper for a friend who had an active toddler. My friend was able to finish a project and my daughter had an afternoon of fun while playing with a toddler. She also earned a few dollars.

24.Make a list of summer activities. "Wow, I have done a lot," my daughter said as we worked on this list together.

25. Get ice cream: It's free; it's cheap. It's cool.

Editor's note: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (The Frugal Duchess) will be joining Wise Bread as a full time blogger in August. In the mean time, she'll be dropping by with a few guest posts a week.  You can find more great tips from Sharon in her book Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money or in Wise Bread's new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

Can't wait until August? Here are other great posts by Sharon on her blog The Frugal Duchess. Enjoy!

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Guest's picture

Since my youngest is 32 I am definitely old school. Our kids all six of them found things to do doing the summer and if they didn't there were lots of household tasks assigned. They were not bored and are all very creative and productive adults.

Guest's picture

The book idea is great. It teaches kids skills like writing and managing a large project. Also worthwhile to have kids test their entrepreneurial skills with lemonade stands and the like - introduce them to the real world.

Guest's picture

Well...just remembering back to my younger days, pre-Atari 2600, but we played sports outside all year long. Hockey in the driveway in the winter...awesome when the snow banks were high enough that you could check your opponent into them, football in the fall and spring, baseball complete with rules for base hits based on where the ball landed...we even had statistics and kept track of wins and losses.

Now, as a brand new father of triplets, I wonder what my kids are going to want to do when they get a little older? I hope that they learn to enjoy the outdoors but the skeptic in me wonders.

Guest's picture

And I'm trying not to be "that guy" but it looks like Boredom is misspelled in the title. Sorry.

That Guy

Will Chen's picture

I think correcting spelling errors is part of your official "scribe for the tribe" duties.  =)

Guest's picture

Ice cream is free???

Guest's picture

I am having trouble locating the free ice cream. Both my supermarket and local summer dairy stands unfortunately seem to disagree with you on this premise.

Guest's picture

The free icecream is while the vendor isn't looking. Teaching your kids to steal is not only fun and educational, but it provides them with valuable skills for their future.

Guest's picture

My sister and I quickly learned that complaining that we were bored would either get us more chores to do or silly suggestions like "you could play tiddly winks with manhole covers". As a result, we rarely complained of boredom. Of course, we also did all sorts of things that mom would never have imagined us doing. Some of them perfectly fine (baking cookies, random craft projects from stuff found around the house) some of them less fine (taking things apart to see how they careful encouraging this one. I became an engineer. :) ). And, sometimes, we'd just lie outside and watch the clouds and complain that we were bored. That's a part of what summer was all about.

Guest's picture

Those all sound like pretty good ways to entertain kids... we used to play a lot of different hand games when I was a camp counselor to keep them from being bored. There's a great list of things here, too.

Guest's picture

Excellent ideas. Doing these activities, especially the reading, is very beneficial to your child's vocabulary. That will be an asset for life.

Guest's picture

Love the list! Thanks for all the great ideas. :)

Guest's picture

Great ideas. I enjoy working on craft projects with my kids.

Guest's picture

Still looking how to get the free ice cream!

Guest's picture

I must know how!

Guest's picture

Somtimes the Boys & Girls Clubs run free swimming and activity days. Have to keep your eyes open for these free summer activities.

Guest's picture

Re # 12. Write a letter: My daughter has written a cute, cute letter to my folks. I have to remember to mail it.

-- copy the letter before you mail it so that you can look at it later!