There’s Nothing Like Free Playtime
I sometimes can’t believe the amount of money we spend on our kids. Particularly when it’s their birthday or course, or Christmas. And the older they get, the more they ask for, and the more promises we make.
My four year old sees an ad on TV and says “I want that mummy!” Then when I say “oh really?” she says, “Yeah, maybe you can ask Santa for me” (because she won’t talk to the scary white-bearded man herself). Meanwhile I actually bought my kids Christmas presents in January … yes, that’s how organised I am. Not really – I signed up for some hampers to come at Christmas with food in them, and found a toy catalogue so signed up for some of their toys as well. $25 a week, which I don’t even notice coming out of my account, and I’ll have food to feed the entire extended family, plus a few major toys each for my kids. Pretty good idea, I thought.
The thing is, we spend so much on toys – and yet it’s often the things that don’t cost a cent, or not much money at all, that they really get the most enjoyment out of. At least for kids my age (4yrs and 20 months). So, if you’re planning a birthday or Christmas you’re probably going to want to buy the kids something nice that they want, but if you’re looking for budget ideas or just a treat because they have done well in school or they shared with other kids and had no arguments with each other for a full week, I thought I’d share my ideas on some cheap entertainment you can use all year round.
These are a winner. Whether you have empty boxes from moving home, you had some groceries delivered in a big box, or perhaps you bought a new appliance – if your kid can fit into the box – it’s a haven for them. Give them some colouring pencils or felt pens and let them decorate their own car, boat, cubby house, and so on. If the box is big enough they might even be able to take some of their favourite toys in with them. This is going to give them hours of entertainment and it helps them to build their imagination.
Watch A Movie
My kids are currently obsessed with the move Moana. That includes Mr 20 month old. In fact, his sister might be at daycare and all he wants to do is watch Moana. If that’s what they want to do, if it’s going to make them happy for an hour and a half, and allow you time to do something for yourself (clean the house, catch up on a TV show you missed, work, or just relax and watch the movie with them), it’s worth it. And watching a movie isn’t going to harm anyone! Give the kids a bucket of popcorn, some water and they’ll be happy.
Pots, Pans, Wooden Spoons
I love this one personally, as does my son. Start a band while they’re young – you never know, you could have a famous drummer in your midst. Grab some of your pots, pans, plastic dishes and some wooden and metal spoons. And just let them go for it. Highly recommended you don’t do this early morning or at night; but during the day is great. Kids who make a lot of happy noise are generally happy kids – at least that’s the way I think of it.
Every kid loves to get creative with Play Dough. If you don’t have any in the house and don’t want to head to the shops, grab out some flour, water and salt and make your own. It’s so easy to do. You can add food colouring if you want to make different colours (just wear gloves because it comes off on your hands easily as you knead the dough) and your kids are set for hours of entertainment. Give them ideas of things to make and if you have the time, sit with them and make some as well. It’s actually very relaxing!
This one is simple. Whether you’re having a birthday party, or you just want to get out with the kids into the fresh air – head to the park. Take some food and drinks with you, and just enjoy the fact they are there, playing with other kids. You might want to get up and play with them as well and let your inner child shine on the swing, or you might want to catch up on your text messages that you just don’t find time to do at home. We’re not judgemental here. The important thing is, your kids are having fun.
There are so many great ideas out there, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, but if you’re looking for some great ways to keep your younger kids busy and happy, without spending any money – I hope these simple tips help.