We recently went on a family outing and I spent so much energy, money and time planning this special event. My expectations were so high of how much the kids would love it, but the reality was the trip was filled with a lot of drama. From getting everything organized and packed and all the kids dressed, by the time we got there, my husband and I were so exhausted. It was a bummer trip. On our way home we decided to stop at Starbucks and a local hair salon because my husband wanted a quick haircut. I sat outside on a bench, drinking an iced coffee and the kids played on a pavilion. They collected sticks and leaves while we waited for him. Then we all sat outside for a long time after and hung out. It was so much fun. We made more of family connection and bond sitting outside Starbucks on a bench than we did in my super organized family trip. It was unexpected and sweet. So my thought is, rather than spending tons of money and energy on family day trips, there are memories and adventures just up the street from us on a bench surrounded by leaves and sticks.
Here are a few family fun activities that won’t break the bank:
- The Pond. We have a little pond within walking distance to our house, so after dinner we will walk there with a loaf of bread. The kids love throwing the bread to the fish and searching for frogs. We will bring a blanket and just relax by the pond. It feels like a little mini vacation because there is absolutely nothing to do there but talk and watch the fish swim.
- Hikes/Walks. We love taking nature hikes through the woods. We like to bring a mason jar and let the kids catch bugs or collect leaves. Exploring the woods with your kids makes you feel like a kid too. It feels energized and refresh being outside.
- Dance party. Every year for Valentine’s Day we have a dance party. We all get dressed up, plug in the strobe light and dance all night. It sounds really cheesy and goofy, and it totally is, but our kids love it. It beats being in an overcrowded restaurant with nervous couples and paying $60 for a babysitter. (Our favorite dance party Pandora station is The Drifters).
- Game night. We will play Uno or hide and go seek all night. As the mom, I have to force myself to play because sometimes (a lot of the times) it seems like a good opportunity to get some stuff done because all the kids are occupied; however, they really like when mom plays too, and it is so fun, just to play in your own house.
- Art night. Drape a huge table cloth over your kitchen table, squirt paint on paper plates as a pallet and let your kids go to town painting. Then display them all together in a certain part of your house. I have found that my husband has a very creative side when he gets the opportunity to paint. I actually saw a canvas decorated with everyone in the families hand print. I thought that would be so sweet and easy to do, and it is such a cool keepsake.
- Camping. My husband recently took our oldest camping. When the girls came home they went on and on about it. When asked, they said they would rather go camping than the beach. I don’t agree with them, and I am not a camper myself. I really like my bed and shower however, I am adding it to the list, because it was essentially free and the girls loved it.
- Lay outside: In the day and watch the clouds. Point out pictures that the clouds make. This helps with your kids’ imagination. Let your inner child come out.At night and try to point out consolations. Watch for shooting stars.
- Garage Sailing- I love garage sailing and lately I’ve been taking 1 or 2 of the older girls with me. I give them a couple bucks and let them buy whatever they want. It is special mommy/ daughter time.
- Google search free family activities in your area. A lot of places have free summer movies at parks, local museums tours, and story times in boutiques. I have found a ton of family activities online. We can nurture and cultivate our kids thirst for learning and fun at very low price tag just by doing a little research.
- Volunteer. My parents use to take us to a shelter during the holidays to serve dinner to families less fortunate. Serving forces you out of your comfort zone and you can see how blessed you really are. You leave feeling grateful and satisfied. We have taken our girls to nursing homes to spend time with some older people. The girls sing songs and play games and it makes them feel good giving out. I want my girls to know that the world does not revolve around them and there is more to life than being a princess.
Our kids just want our attention. Lifetime memories don’t have to be created with a ton of money or energy. You can easily find them right around the corner.