It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to entertain the family. There is so much to do that is either free or is exceedingly cheap. So make the effort, have a little family time, and reap the rewards.
Go to the library. As well as reading books for free, check out what activities they offer – ours does toddler story time and the summer reading challenge for school age children, you can book a computer for free or just catch up with the papers.
Go to the park and play on the swings, or take a football or cricket bat.
Play rounders! I have excellent memories of family holidays doing this when I was young.
Go for a walk at a fast pace and you won’t need to bother with the gym. Do it with a buggy and you are resistance training!
Check your local museums and art galleries – some will be free.
Take the family to see a working farm close up: www.farmsunday.org
Have a ‘cinema night’. Borrow a DVD from the library or watch a film you have recorded. Pop some corn. Easy.
Grow sunflowers. Kids enjoy watching them germinate and develop, and they can have a competition to see whose grows the tallest.
Pack up a picnic and head for the hills. If we have a day out anywhere, Mr Shoestring and I always take a flask and sandwiches – whatever the weather. It saves so much money and also means no queuing in crowded cafes for over-priced food of variable quality.
Check the country parks in your area. In Essex we are blessed with some great open spaces, ideal for a family walk: www.visitparks.co.uk. It’s easy to find where yours are at your local Tourist Information Centre.
Go to the garden centre. We have several locally that have so much to see for free, and the kids love their Christmas displays. However, don’t be drawn in to the café, and don’t buy anything unless you need it and it is a good price.
Visit your relatives and friends. They are an under-rated and often under-valued form of entertainment and support.
Dig out your old board games and packs of cards. It is good to go low tech and get away from electronic games once in a while.
Make a dressing up box. This was the most used form of entertainment when my children were young. Look out for suitable items in charity shops and at boot sales. Old hats, scarves, nighties and petticoats are great, as are handbags and long strings of beads (although the latter are no good if you have babies or toddlers about).
Invest in some cheap water pistols – kids love playing with water. For toddlers a washing up bowl with a little bubbly water and some plastic cups provides endless entertainment.
On a similar note, make some bubble mix. This also entertains the animals if you have them.
Buy some play sand and dig a sandpit. Hours of entertainment.
Play dough is very easy to make and lasts ages.
Great cheap crafts: save bottle tops, ribbon, ends of wool, cardboard toilet rolls, wrapping paper, bits of fabric, lolly sticks, etc. Rather than binning them, bring them out with some paint and glue and see how creative your children can be.
Teach your kids to cook! In my experience, kids will eat almost anything if they cook it themselves. Not only is this an essential life skill, it is an opportunity to broaden your children’s tastes and get them to be more adventurous. It is also fun! My eldest could cook a full roast dinner by the time she was ten, and often did.
If they are too little to cook, even toddlers can decorate fairy cakes and make a splendid mess at the same time.
Play hide and seek. Literally hours of free entertainment.
Visit a boot or jumble sale. Give your children a small amount of money. This is a good chance for them to understand how money works and its value. Teach them how to find a bargain!
If you have a small tent, put it up in the garden for the summer holidays as a play house. Older children could have a camp out.
Let me have your ideas and I will add them to the list 🙂