For me spending times with my kids is far more important than spending money on my kids. It seems like any more that to have fun or treat your kids you have to take out a small loan to finance the fun. Okay maybe not that expensive but week after week of trying to keep my family entertained this summer and I felt the pain of trying balance cost versus fun. Here are a few tips I have to treat your kids to something fun but keep the cost down.
Kids love cookies. Well they love anything sweet so why not try having a cookie party at your house. You can grab the ingredients at a very cheap price at your local grocery store. Also grab some cookie decorating supplies or you may already have some around the kitchen. And before you start put some old play clothes so they can get messy.
If you are not good at recipes you can even grab the already made cookie dough. But letting the kids participate in the actual making the recipe is part of the fun for everyone. They can crack eggs and help mix in some of the ingredients to make some stellar cookie dough on the cheap. I would recommend to only let the older kids or adults work with the oven as that can get dangerous with younger kids.
Once the cookies have cooled off start the decorating. If you are close to a holiday you can encourage them to do holiday themed cookies. Or maybe if it is close to a family members birthday it can be an early celebration. Just remember to let them have fun and encourage imagination. Don’t worry if they make a mess, that is what baths were made for. You can even have a judging contest to see who decorated the best cookie.
One of the best things about were I live is we have a drive-in theater less than 30 minutes from our house. If you have the luxury of having one of these hidden gems close to you, use it. Typically kids are free at drive-ins, and at our drive in they do a double feature so you get two movies for the price of one. Drive-ins can be a great opportunity to not only enjoy some entertainment but demonstrate living history to your children.
To keep the cost down, pop your own popcorn and bring your own snacks. Load up a cooler full of drinks and bring some blankets. If you have a truck you can park it backwards and load it up with some sleeping bags and blankets for comfort. We have an SUV and we bring old couch cushions and some of the kids pile in the back of the SUV to watch the movies.
For those of you that don’t have a drive-in close to your home. Make your own drive-in at your house. Borrow a projector and put a sheet up in the backyard and have your own mini drive-in. And if you can’t borrow a projector you can always just make some comfy spots in the floor of your living room and watch some movies.
Some of you that may have been camping before are probably thinking I am crazy on this one. But camping can be inexpensive. It doesn’t require fancy tents and all kind of equipment that stores try to push on you. It can be as simple as getting some blankets and sleeping under the stars in your backyard.
If you have camping equipment already then this one is a no brainer. Just pack up the equipment, go find an inexpensive campground, and setup camp. Most campgrounds have a lake or some trails for activities. Sitting around a campfire and telling spooky or goofy stories is a great way to finish the day.
If you don’t have your own camping equipment you can always ask around with family and friends. Borrow some camping equipment and make a go with it. Your friends and family may even want to go with you and that will just add to the enjoyment.
For some people the idea of sleeping outside is just a big fat no. Packing a lunch or dinner in a cooler and heading to a local park for a picnic can be an awesome treat for your kids. You can go really inexpensive and just pack some cold sandwiches or you can even take a small bag of charcoal and grill some hot dogs.
I would suggest finding a good park that has a big playground area so you can let the kids run off some energy while they wait for you to get lunch ready. Some parks even have dog areas that you can bring your furry friends. Our county park has a splash pad that is free and open all summer and a disc golf course.
During the warmer months of the year we are always looking for ways to stay cool. Instead of having your own pool which requires time and money to maintain all summer you can go find a free place to swim.
If you have a large lake nearby check to see if they have a swimming beach. Most state parks in Kentucky that have a lake have a well maintained beach to swim. Grant it they don’t provide life guards but as a parent you should be in the water with the kids and playing and keeping an eye on them.
Creeks, rivers, or streams are also a good place to cool off and spend an afternoon treating the kids. You can find a good area that isn’t too swift, and you can get some cheap floats from a dollar store and have an absolute blast. In some swimming areas there are even some good rocks your kids can safely jump off or a small waterfall to slide down like a water park.
Other ideas if you like pools is to use memberships that you may already have. Some gym memberships include pool access at certain times. And a lot of golf courses have pools in their clubhouse that are free to their members. If you don’t have a membership maybe you have a friend with a membership and they can get you in for free on a bring a friend event.
In a previous post I talked about taking your kids fishing. If you can find a good pond, creek, or lake nearby there should be plenty of opportunity to treat your kids to a day of fishing.
To keep costs down I recommend digging your own worms for bait. This can be a fun activity in itself as kids love digging and getting dirty. You also don’t need a tackle box full of fishing tackle. Just some hooks, bobbers, sinkers, and some poles at the bare minimum.
There are so many other ideas you can use to treat your kids for a day out of the house without blowing your budget. What other ideas do you have to treat your kids? Leave a comment on the Facebook page and let me know.