We all want to have a good time with our kids, you know, to spend that ‘quality time’ with them that is the buzz word for families today. The problem is, the things that kids see advertised on television and want to do for fun cost a lot of money. You can easily blow through 50 bucks for a family movie, another 50 for a dinner out, or you can hit one of those fancy arcade / pizza joints and blow a cool hundred bucks in one afternoon.
There has to be a better way!
There is. There are so many ways to have fun with your children that don’t require spending a lot of money or even any money at all. Below is a list of some fun places and things you can do with your children without spending a lot of money.
Check out your local public library. Many public libraries have special children and family activities. My local library has a regular story time for preschool children all during the year, and then during the summer, they offer story time for other ages too. They also offer special arts and crafts events for children and parents, as well as puppet shows and movies. Contact your local library to see what’s available in their children’s departments.
I live in a town of only about 90K people, but just recently discovered we have a presidential museum, a petroleum museum, and an arts museum I’ve never even heard of before! We also have a historic tour of the city, all of which are free admission or very low cost. If you live in a city of any size, chances are there is a museum of some sort available to spend an afternoon at for a reasonable price. Check online or use our yellow pages to see if you can find one you and your children will enjoy.
A Day at the Park
Grab that old basketball and dust off those sneakers and take a walk down to the local park. Most every city has at least one park, where you can go to play a little basketball, walk around the playgrounds, or climb the equipment. If you can’t find a park, check out your closest local elementary school. Almost all elementary schools will have at the very least a basketball court. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it at the park with your kids for free.
Do you have a lake or a public swimming pool near your home? Our small city has three public swimming pools and a YMCA and a junior college sports center. It’s only $3.00 for the whole day at the college to swim in the indoor heated pool, $5.00 for non members for four hours at the YMCA indoor heated pool, and only a buck to swim all day long at the city’s outdoor pool. If you have a lake that’s open to the public, that’s even better. You can pack a lunch and spend an entire day having fun in the sun and getting wet.
Roller Blading or Roller Skating
My son and I were able to find a pair of roller blades for him at Goodwill for only $3.00. They were used, but they were nice. I managed to find a pair for me for $15.00 at the local Walmart Super Center. Strap those suckers on your feet and take off down the street. You can roller blade your way to the park and use the sidewalks there, find a skate park in your town (we don’t have one in my city) or hit the local skating rink and spend an afternoon there. Not only is it fun and free, but it’s also great exercise and good for your health too!
Find a Church Group
If you’re not adverse to religion or churches, you might be able to find a good church that provides quality youth activities or family activities for little or no cost.
Grab your big bowl and fill it will microwave popcorn and then head down to the local video store and rent a couple of the oldies but goodies, and make a movie day. This is great for the cold weather days or when it’s rainy outside. Everyone can grab pillows and blankets and pile on the floor in front of the television and watch movies all day.
Board Game Nights
Grab your Monopoly game off the shelf, get a deck of cards, make up some finger food snack, get your Uno cards, and have at it. This can be amazingly fun and addictive. During the holidays, my family loves to play Clue and Yahtzee, and last year on Christmas day we were eating veggies and dip, Spam and crackers, and playing Jenga at the kitchen table in the afternoon. It’s a blast with lots of laughing and family fun that costs very little.
These are just a few examples of some free or inexpensive things you can do to have a bit of fun with your family and spend some quality time with them at the same time. I’m sure if you let your imagination open up a bit, you can come up with plenty of inexpensive, free and fun ideas for spending quality time with your family on your own too.