Photo Credit Epic Kids
I have compiled a list of either free or very cheap ideas to do with your child/ren. I am a huge fan of “Let’s take off and do something fun today.” I especially was able to do this before my daughter started kindergarten. I know so many moms and dads out there that don’t do anything with their children all day except get on social media and complain about not doing anything with them. When I suggest things there’s always a reason why they can’t do anything. Today I am stopping that. Also, don’t forget to tailor these ideas to your child’s age.
For my Indiana Residents I have included links below for you.
If you live in another state or area (country) please feel free to comment below with links in your area. I would love to know what’s out there, and I know fellow readers would love to know what’s in their area as well.
1)Go to the Park and Have a Picnic
Going to the park is one of the single most fun things that my daughter loves to do. It gives her a chance to get her energy out, we get out of the house, and I don’t have to engage too much if there’s a lot of other children playing at the same time. Don’t get me wrong I love playing with my daughter, but on days where I need my space the park is a great alternative. I’m still spending time with my child, but we get to spend some time being parallel. We bring a sack lunch and eat at the picnic tables. Then we clean up and go play. It’s free and easy.
If you are not close to the park and live in the country then having a picnic outside is also a great alternative. We lived in the country at one point and when I didn’t feel like driving in to town to go to the park we had a picnic outside on a blanket. Then afterwards we would play on the play set together, or my daughter would run around the yard. She also would get out chalk, her bike, her power wheels dune buggie, etc.
2)Go to the Zoo, Petting Zoo, or Aquarium
Where we live there is a free zoo in town. It has mostly petting zoo animals. It also has some pretty cool animals like bald eagles, prairie dogs, and wallabies. If you are looking to get out of the house and go do something free see if there’s something like this in your area. There might be a free petting zoo. There might be a free zoo. We also live close enough to our state’s capitol where they have an actual zoo. It’s huge. We live about an hour away from that zoo. If you find it’s going to be costly look in to their programs. They have certain days dedicated to being “free” or “discount days.” Also, check if they offer discounts to military families, teachers, police officers, firemen, or
veterans. Check with your work as well. They might give you a discount. My work offers discounts including our big zoo. The price cut is really helpful. You really can’t beat it.
3)Go to the Local Museum, State Museum, or Interactive Children’s Museum
Again, we have fantastic museums in our state downtown of the capitol. We’ve actually been to a few in Indianapolis. There are a ton of cheap museums that are great for all ages. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is pretty costly. However, if you look for their “free days” and “discount days” you can get in really cheap (especially on the free days because they’re free). Check out your state museum as well. Usually those kind of museums cost next to nothing and they have something for all ages.
Also, there is a very cheap, local museum for children close to us. It’s like $4/person to get in. They have a ton of hands on learning. I’m sure there’s something like this in your area too.
4)Go Shopping, Run Errands
Okay, this one might seem lame, but I’m telling you little ones just want your time and attention. They don’t care where you go or what you do. Do you have groceries you need to get? Maybe you need to go run some errands around town? Take your child/ren with you! They just want to feel included.
If the mood strikes maybe buy them a toy while they’re out. They will most certainly behave if there’s something in it for them. My daughter loves going places with me. She even loves getting groceries with me because she likes to get the items off the shelf for me and put them in the cart. She feels like such a helper. When she was a lot younger she loved going and sitting in the front to watch all the people go by. She loved just spending time with me and talking with me.
5)Do a Craft: paint, color, glue a bunch of stuff together
I love this idea the best so far. I’ll tell you why: My daughter is so imaginative. She loves to paint. She also loves to just glue random stuff together. Now let me explain more in depth. We have sequins and toilet paper rolls and little stickers, etc. She loves just taking glue and gluing stuff to a piece of paper or construction paper from our craft supply box. It is very monitored and very fun to watch her mind work. She also loves to paint. Yes, I know paint is messy. But it’s really not. You just have to rinse out paint brushes, and wipe down your table. Put a paint smock or something like that on your child and throw it in the wash afterwards. Easy clean up.
6)Play Some Games
Again, this is a perfect example of how you should tailor these ideas to your child’s age. A baby is not capable of playing a board game. A toddler, absolutely. A bigger kid is more than capable of playing a game. With a baby play simple games (peek-a-boo, tummy time, etc). A toddler loves playing games. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn to take turns and that everything has rules. Don’t discredit this idea yet.
Sometimes it’s just a great idea to go outside. My daughter loves being outside when someone is outside with her. She will play by herself with her toys as long as I’m outside with her. I can catch up on a book, or give her ideas while she’s playing. It’s really up to you how you want to play outside with your child. Being outside is also very calming. It helps both mom and child. Is there a play set outside? Great! Go play on it with her. No play set? That’s great too. Get the chalk out and create something fun.
8)Go See a Movie or Go to a Play
I love our free movie matinees. Whenever our local movie theater is having them I make sure I take our daughter. We also have a lot of theaters in town that do kid friendly shows. You might be thinking “My kid is 2. There’s no way I’m taking them to a show.” Actually, I found the earlier I took my daughter the earlier she learned to behave in that sort of an environment. I always made sure we sat on an end seat so she could wiggle and we sat in the front row of a section so there was no one in front of us. Again, so she could wiggle without bothering anyone. Now she’s 5 and she truly appreciates the fine arts of plays.
You also have the option of creating a movie theater in your home if you do not want to go out. Pop a movie in and pop some popcorn. I like to go to our local super store and buy a $5 movie. Then buy snacks (healthy snacks). We then go home and have girls time stuffing our faces and watching a cheap movie. You can also find $1 movies too at your local super store.
This might seem like a silly one too. Let’s be honest though, who does NOT like to play play-doh still? If you say no you’re lying. Create something fun with your little one. Create something silly, or give your child an idea to create something and see how their imagination works. Where does that idea you gave them drive their brain to? Play play-doh and find out.
10)Bake Something Yummy
Baking something yummy is always a great idea. My daughter loves to help me in the kitchen. I’m sure your little one will too. She puts on an apron and grabs a stool. Then she climbs on up and asks what all she can help with. I gladly let her help me. An extra set of hands in the kitchen is always helpful. Just keep in mind about hot stoves, pans, ovens, sharp knives, etc. I would even be cautious about the mixer. I let my daughter practice measuring and then I let her dump it in the mixer. She also loves helping to decorate cookies. Never discount this idea either. Again, tailor it to your child’s age. Here is a great article about cooking with your child at any age.
Find Something Fun:
Don’t let bad weather ruin your plans. Don’t let being lazy get in the way of being with your child. You don’t get these years back. Just remember that. Be sure you tailor all your ideas to be age appropriate for your little one.
Also, don’t forget to check out my links below if you are an Indiana resident. If you are not please comment below the fun things to do in your area to help other moms and dads.
Links for Indiana Residents:
Parks in Indiana: https://visitindiana.com/
Indianapolis Zoo: http://www.indianapoliszoo.com/SitePages/Home.aspx
Columbian Park Zoo: http://www.columbianparkzoo.org/
Imagination Station: http://www.imagination-station.org/
Civic Theater of Lafayette: https://www.lafayettecivic.org/
Bold, C. (2015). How Young Kids Can Help in the Kitchen: A List of Activities by Age. Retrieved from https://www.thekitchn.com/how-young-kids-can-help-in-the-kitchen-a-list-of-activities-by-age-222692