Downshift with Family without Draining the Bank
July is prime summertime! For many of us, that means family vacations, daytrips to local attractions, and finding anything to keep the kids occupied during the dog days of summer. Unfortunately, all that fun and activity can come with a price tag. The good news is that low-cost or no-cost options abound in North Texas. Even better, many of these options also keep kids’ brains engaged while reinforcing Blue Zones Power 9 principles for better well-being.
Get Outside – Getting outdoors doesn’t just encourage “moving naturally,” it invites exploration of our natural environment, provides fresh air, and presents an opportunity for multi-generational connections. Take a daily walk through the neighborhood. Go for a bike ride in the park. Visit a local playground. Share your love of fishing. Explore a nature center or garden. Set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Create a masterpiece using sidewalk chalk. The possibilities are as big as the great outdoors! (Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray.)
Keep Your Cool – Did you know that many cities and communities now have community splash pads? They’re a fun alternative for staying cool in the Texas heat. Check out DFWChild’s list of free splash pads and play fountains in the area. If you’re looking for a traditional swimming pool experience, most cities offer reasonably priced access to public pools. And many YMCA branches also have swimming facilities and offer reasonable family membership programs, in additional to swim lessons.
Pass Go to Fun – A trip to “Candyland” or winning it all in a game of “Monopoly” costs virtually nothing. Break out the board and card games and rediscover the joys of yelling “Uno” or finding that perfect word in “Scrabble.” Not only are games fun, they promote the principle of “Family First” while enhancing math, spelling, logic, strategy and social skills. (Whether you let the kids win is up to you.)
Explore Books and More at the Library – Did you know that most area libraries offer much more than just books — much of it FREE for city residents? At many city libraries, your library card is the key to music, DVDs, audio books, magazines, and even musical instrument rentals. You’ll also find story times, arts and craft projects, scavenger hunts, concerts, movies, and, of course, summer reading challenges. Many libraries also allow you to “check out” free passes to your local gardens or museums. Of course, simply going to the library to read is always time well spent.
Step into History – Explore history or art or science at a local museum. There are more than a dozen free museums in Dallas-Fort Worth alone. Many more offer once-a-month free days, free events, or special admission for children. As a bonus, you’re bound to get more steps in exploring those new places and subjects. Get out and explore a museum or area of focus you know nothing about.
As you can see, downshifting with the family doesn’t have to be expensive. And don’t forget, when you do decide to splurge a little on theme parks, concerts, or other events, be sure to check first for available discounts through Texas Health’s Employee Discount Program.