Sometimes, the most old-fashioned activities are also the best (and the cheapest!). If you’re struggling for frugal ways to entertain your kids this summer, ditch the screens and go back to basics.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pet at home, specifically a dog, then you’ve got a never-ending fun machine for kids. If it’s a sunny day, suggest they play games and run around with the dog in the backyard. If you want to get involved, take the dog for a walk with the kids. It’s a great way to get some fresh air – and your dog will appreciate it, too. If you have a cat, let tired kids take a cat-nap with it resting beside them. And if you have birds, or fish, simply talking to them or feeding them should keep kids occupied for a little while.
Reading and writing
A lot of kids enjoy reading – take a trip to the local library and let your kids pick out their own books from the children’s section. The more books, the more time spent reading! If your child is creative and loves words, they might enjoy writing their own stories, too. When you need a little bit of quiet time, suggest they try writing their own short story. Who knows, perhaps you’ll have a little author in the making!
Funnily enough, when I was a kid, I enjoyed gardening. I had my own section in the garden to plant a punnet of cheap flowers from the home gardening store. I loved watching them grow and eventually flowering. Your kids should love this frugal activity, too. Pay a visit to the home gardening store and let your child pick out one punnet of cheap flowers. Take them home and help them plant the flowers by covering the base with soil and gently watering. They will love seeing the plants get bigger and start flowering over the next few weeks.
Arts and crafts
Give kids the freedom to be creative by investing in some cheap arts and crafts supplies from the dollar store – they’ve got a great selection to choose from! Whether your child simply likes to color, or do more complex crafting with beads, glue, glitter and paint, the dollar store has a lot of very frugal options. If your child really enjoys art, set up a dedicated space in your home – like a small corner table – where they can keep their supplies and return to whenever they feel like being creative.
There’s no cure for boredom more tried-and-true than a good old board game. If you can, stick with classics like Scrabble and chess – as these are always the cheapest ones to buy (if you don’t have them already). If you have a little more money to spend, try Twister or Operation. Kids always love these games.
Plays and imagination
Letting groups of kids use their own imagination to come up with fun ideas to entertain themselves is a fantastic way to encourage good old-fashioned fun. I remember when I was a kid staying at my grandparent’s house with my cousins during summer vacation, we would make up a play and set rows of chairs up like it was a theatre. We’d also design a poster with the title of the play on an A4 sheet of paper. Then we made our grandparents sit through our play, which lasted about 10 minutes (so wasn’t totally insufferable for them).
If you’ve got nieces and nephews visiting, this is a great idea to pop into their heads to keep them busy.
Cooking is a great way to bond with your kids. Choose kid-friendly recipes, like cookies or cupcakes, and let them read the recipe, add the ingredients together and do the mixing. When it comes to the oven, you’ll need to be the one to get the food in and out. But you can let the kids watch the clock and tell you when the timer goes off. Bonus: The house will smell of freshly-baked goods. Score!