Larger families living in rural locations feel the weight of high gasoline prices when considering family activities. Often, rural families do not have the option walk to a nearby library or park to get the family out of the house. A trip to the grocery store might even be as exhausting as a full-on road trip. Because rural families are so far from just about much of anything, the cost of the trip determines just how expensive the final destination should be.
Make State Park Excursions Interesting
If you live in a rural community, the chances are fairly high that a state park is somewhere within nominal distance from your residence, but even if it is not, the admission to a state park is fairly inexpensive. Some state parks have charcoal grills, playgrounds, pavilions, park tables and walking trails. Your kids may not be super excited to visit the trees, but if you bring some corn on the cob, hot dogs, drinks, charcoal and a lighter, you could make the day a festive time. Bring foods that are easy to grill and that your kids love to eat. Your family is going to eat anyway, and grilling outside makes the family meal special.
Bring some games to play at the park while you fill the air with the smell of food cooking on the grill. Balls, hoops, and jump ropes make for some great family memories. You can eat “out,” while having a new adventure. Just be super sure to clean up your mess and leave the park as you’ve found it.
Make a Day at a Swimming Hole a Breeze
Whether you go to the springs, a lake, or the beach, making a day of swimming with the family proves somewhat exhausting. How does one manage toting the chairs and equipment to the shore line while managing toddlers? Prepare for the journey and exit by packing supplies in over-the-shoulder bags. You need towels, chairs, snacks, water, sunblock, some toys, and your personal stuff. Keep your valuables in a sealed plastic baggy. Put things in a bag you can strap across your back, and if your fold-up chairs don’t have straps, find something to attach to them so you can hang them on your shoulders. Especially if you have a large family, corralling little ones while toting shore supplies becomes exhausting. It’s much easier to do this if you have another adult.
For snacks, choose things that are shelf-stable so they don’t spoil. You’ll want to have ice cold water, so freeze half-filled bottles of water the night before the trip. Top them off with water before you leave and keep them in sealed plastic baggies so they don’t get the other items in your bag soggy. You won’t have to deal with bags of ice or coolers if you can throw in some iced waters, snack crackers and little containers of peanut-butter and Jelly. Fruits in small containers make for good on-the-go snacks. You won’t have to stop somewhere to eat if you’ve packed fruits, berries, grapes, crackers, nuts, and things that can easily be packed so as to avoid a heavy trip to and from the watering hole. Plan for dinner at home by using a slow-cooker or by preparing the side dishes the night before the trip.
Invite Friends to a Nearby Playground
Trekking up to the nearest playground could prove a little disappointing when there are no other children in sight; however, if you invite some other people and bring some toys and snacks, the day could prove exciting for the kids. An added bonus to inviting other people to the playground is that the adults have some companionship while the kids run around and wear themselves out for the night. Playgrounds are generally free, so the only expense is the gasoline and the low-cost snacks you decide to bring to the park.
Start an Open Potluck Party at a Community Park
If you do have a community park that is equipped with grills, you could make a day of fun for the community by organizing an open potluck for the community. Ask friends and family to spread the word that there’s going to be an open party or gathering at the park for neighborhood members to meet and have a good time. If you can print a flyer and have it posted somewhere common, you’ll get more people interested in the event. Be sure to suggest that attendees bring some charcoal or something to grill, eat, or drink. You might be surprised at what fun results. Other people in your community may have been longing for something else to do in your rural neck of the woods, so they may be just as eager to bring some fun to the open event as you are. Get some low-cost hotdogs and buns and fill some jugs with an inexpensive beverage like tea or powdered drink mixes when you show up. Even if only a few people show up, you’ll probably have a grand time.