DEAR HARRIETTE: It seems like everybody in my son's class has gone on vacation -- except for us. Both my husband and I have had to work each week of the summer, and we really could not afford to take a big trip. My son has had fun with his friends, but that is different from having a great story of adventure that's outside of what we do all the time. What can I do to make sure he has some good memories before school starts? -- Getting Creative, Bay City, Michigan
DEAR GETTING CREATIVE: Look in your local paper to learn about free activities in your town. Sometimes there are free live concerts that families can attend. Local museums may have free children's workshops. Do some digging to see what is happening. Then schedule it and make a big deal about the fact that your family is going to do this together.
You may also want to think about going away for a day or over a two-day weekend. It doesn't have to be far. You can find a nearby amusement park that your son would enjoy. Or look for a nature park you can explore together. Being with your son and doing something out of the ordinary are the most important things. Make sure he knows that you value this time together and that you want to have quality family time -- it will help him put his experience into context without feeling bad about not doing what his friends have done over the summer.