If you’re constantly looking for different weekend or holiday activities for your children to enjoy then, like most parents, you’ll be prioritising activities that won’t break your budget.
And as we start to see the reopening of public spaces and loosening of restrictions on public pools, galleries, libraries, zoos, cinemas and other cultural institutions it’s important to remind yourself that having fun both inside and outside of your home with children doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. There are plenty of things you can do that are either low-cost or totally free.
And, once you realise there’s a huge variety of things you can enjoy with your family that won’t make a dent in your wallet, you’ll most likely return to those activities time and time again.
Here’s how two mums entertain their kids with low budget activities:
With a three-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter, Louisa, who lives in Perth, believes she’s now an expert in entertaining her children on a small budget.
“My husband is a FIFO worker so I’ve had to come up with some easy fun activities to do on the weekends when he’s not around. Sometimes the simple things are the best. We love painting and drawing together, spreading everything on the kitchen table. Here are some of my other suggestions,” Louisa says.
- Create a fort or cubby house in the lounge room using blankets, pillows or cardboard boxes: This never gets old! We have a little tea party inside the fort once it’s fully set up. I also include whatever soft toys are around as “guests” for the kids. Sometimes we invite neighbourhood kids over to join in. This is especially great to do on rainy days.
- Bushwalking: we’re lucky to live close to the bush but you can always take the kids to a park that has bush tracks and take them for a long walk. Ask them to collect bits and pieces for a craft project, leaves, flowers, interesting stones etc. It’s also great exercise and doesn’t need to be too strenuous. I always use our bush walks to talk about our surroundings and point out particular trees, so it’s an educational activity too.
- Board games: age appropriate games are always fun and it’s a good way to get your kids off any screens. We love ‘Guess Who’ and the good old-fashioned ones like ‘Snakes and Ladders’.
- Picnic: we like to get up early and pack a bag filled with brunch. Depending on the weather, near the beach is always good but I love going to one of our favourite parks so the kids can ride scooters on one of the paths. Picnics are a great way to use up half a day and if you set up your picnic blanket near a playground that makes for a more relaxing time for you as you can sit and watch the kids play while you do very little!
- Hide and Seek: no matter where you are, this game never gets old. My five-year-old is an expert at hiding, much to the frustration of her younger brother. We also love treasure hunts; the treasure can be as simple or as lucrative as you like. I often hide toy cars but you can also hide shells, a bag of lollies or whatever you think will make your child happy to find. Make a little map for yourself with clues for the kids.
- Bike riding/scootering: My three year old can’t quite ride his bike yet but I put him on the back of my bike in a baby seat so he is riding around, usually watching his big sister on her scooter. I try to take them to a different location each week but their favourite place to ride is around the Swan River as there is so much to see.
- Gardening: we’ve started making a little vegetable patch. I have one child in charge of tomatoes and lettuce, the other in charge of parsley and silverbeet. It’s a lot of fun, they love watering the garden and checking up on their plants’ progress. It gets nice and messy too, which they love.
Building sandcastles: another activity that never gets old! We’ve got some old-fashioned little beach buckets with spades. Sandcastles can be as simple or as complicated as you can manage.