Does your budget have a ‘fun allowance’? It’s easy to lump having fun in your ‘miscellaneous’ category where it can get overshadowed by unexpected expenses. We’re not talking about spontaneous holidays overseas or buying designer gear, just that it’s a great idea to factor in some fun. A budget works best when every dollar is allocated, and the more realistic your budget is the more likely it is to actually be successful. Besides, fun doesn’t have to cost a lot: why not make a list of low-cost family things to do with the kids, and get busy ticking them off? Your best resources are likely to be community websites, your local paper, neighbours and other parents, especially if you’re new to your area.
Here are 10 fun family ideas that don’t cost a lot – some are even free!
Have a water fight
Get your swimming togs on, fill some buckets, old squeezy detergent bottles and any plastic containers you can find, and let rip with the hose! You could buy a couple of packets of water balloons – very cheap – but bear in mind they take a while to fill and need gentle handling. It’s a great way to cool down and water the lawn at the same time!
Get the family moving and stage your own Olympic Games in the backyard! You can award medals, but the aim of the game here is fun and enjoyment - celebrate fair play, developing skills, and emerging talent. For even more fun, invite other families and friends along too. A sprinkler or the hose will keep everybody cool! Check out these fun ideas for games to include.
What to do with all the kids’ art? Blu-Tak it on the fence or outside walls of your house and/or garage, hang it on a rope across the backyard, use the washing line…invite other kids to bring their art along too – the more the merrier! Make a big ‘Exhibition’ sign telling people the day and time, post an invite in your neighbours’ mailboxes, invite your friends and enjoy the show.
Restaurants with “Kids Eat Free” deals
If you’ve allocated a little money for family treats, eating at a family restaurant on off-peak days and times is a great idea. Kids
Make the most of any craft items you have, and then take your kids on a hunt around the house and garden for alternative craft items – toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, bottle tops, twigs, plastic bottles and yoghurt containers. Then build a robot, a castle, a spaceship, a house for a mouse, the world’s longest marble race…the real fun is the process of collecting and building and just spending time with your little ones will mean the world to them.
In the heat of the sun, wandering through the bush can be refreshing. Research online for the best child-friendly walks in your area, or further afield if you’re more adventurous and have the time. Pack wisely with plenty of food (including treats as encouragement if the kids’ spirits start flagging) and drink, good footwear, sunscreen and a warm jersey just in case. Do some research before you go on what flora and fauna you might see and keep a look out for it.
If you have a rod, you’re sorted, if not, you’ll need to buy at least a hook and line to tie to a long stick. You can buy child-sized, no-tangle fishing rods and safe plastic hooks for a reasonably cheap price. Worms and bigger insects make great bait but if you don’t want to traumatise a particularly sensitive child, bits of meat or bread will do. Find a safe pier to sit on, take food and drink and sun protection and wait for the big one to bite!
Playgrounds are the best type of entertainment because they’re designed entirely for kids. Why not choose ten playgrounds in your area and make it your family mission to try them all and rate them? Take something to eat and drink, sunscreen and hats, a rug and some friends and the afternoon’s entertainment is a breeze! Don’t forget school playgrounds are open during the holidays too.
Public swimming pools
Check with your local council for the nearest free public swimming pool – some regional pools charge, others don’t.