Does it seem that you are spending half your paycheck trying to entertain your children?
Now that summer is here, the need to keep your children entertained is probably more evident. Try some of these budget-friendly ideas.
A NEW LOOK AT TOYS
Our family tends to buy educational kids toys and toys that encourage creativity like Legos, Lincoln Logs, Play Doh and art supplies. My children do play video games, but we limit those to two hours a day.
You can find cheaper toys at the local thrift store or recycle toys from neighbors or family members with older children. Some libraries even have a toy check-out program.
You can also encourage your children to use toys differently. The Barbie dollhouse can become the Littlest Pet Shop Zoo. Legos can be used to build a store which your children can fill with items they make from paper and cardboard. A large cardboard box can be opened up to design a park for the Zhu Zhu pets to drive around in.
We have also put a box or two of toys away in storage for a few months so that when they re-appear, they seem like new.
ACTIVITIES AROUND THE HOUSE
Children just need a little prodding to come up with fun activities at home. You can help them build forts with sofa cushions, chairs and sheets or host a neighborhood craft camp in which you find items around the house and turn them into gifts (see craft ideas here). You can also make a silly video or host a dance contest.
If you are ready for outside time, send them to play water games (water balloons, relays with buckets of water, homemade slip and slide) or make home-made bubble solution (recipes here). Design a city using sidewalk chalk and use dolls or action figures to play in it.
Older children can build their own fort using materials around the yard and garage, stage a mock sword fighting tournament or reenact scenes from movies like Narnia or Lord of the Rings. How about a back yard camp out?
When they beg to come back in, make ice cream in a bag (recipe here), then send them to their rooms for a board game marathon (Life and Monopoly are great games for this.). We have also pulled out the Play Doh and googly eyes and hosted a contest to see who could make the craziest creature. Even older kids will play along for a while.
FUN AROUND TOWN
If you are ready to get out of the house, take the kids to story time at the library, attend dollar summer movies (Regal Cinemas) or have a scavenger hunt at the mall (find the ugliest shirt, the cheapest item, the most expensive item, etc.).
Take the kids for a cheap ice cream cone at a nearby fast food restaurant and make up stories while eating. Look in the newspaper for local festivals or free events. Try free programs offered by stores like Michaels’ The Knack or Home Depot’s free Kids Workshops.
Take a picnic to a local park and read books together. Don’t forget the bread crumbs to feed the ducks!
Having fun doesn’t take a lot of money, just a little planning and ingenuity.
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