Raising kids can be expensive, time consuming and stressful, no one has to tell a parent that. The time consuming part really can’t be changed if you want a healthy relationship with your kids, but the other two can.
Sure, clothes and shoes and daycare expenses are going to still be there, and sometimes you will worry and fret about the kids, but don’t stress about spending money to provide your kids with some cool and fun experiences.
You don’t need to buy tickets to a carnival or eat out so the kids can play with the super toys provided. Here’s what you do instead:
1. Make a list of all the free happenings in your local area and keep it handy. Make sure you have dates and times. Don’t try to go to all of them, but when it’s time for a little fun, check your list. Most areas have sites online where you can find out what’s going on. Check the city site, but if there’s a university nearby, don’t forget that. Local newspapers will have information about what’s happening, too, but don’t rely on one source.
Look for parades, free concerts or plays, free museum days,seasonal festivals and holiday things like Easter egg hunts or Christmas tree displays.
2. Do it yourself fun is always a good thing. Go on a picnic to an unusual place or have a low key party just because. Break out of the same “fun” things you usually do with the kids. An afternoon in the park is great, but what about an afternoon looking for cool rocks out on the prairie, or a morning going through a few old photos, then making Grandma’s cookies?
You know your kids, so go the extra mile to do something inexpensive with them that they will enjoy.
3. Get the rest of the family or friends involved. When my kids were little, we hosted our first family reunion. It was so much fun that we were asked to do it the next year, which we declined. We had spent too much money and too much time, then we discovered that no one sat under the large tent tops we rented and much of the food was not eaten. People came to have fun and visit with each other.
Horseshoes, a water hose and a couple of guitars provided all the entertainment anyone wanted. We already had those things, so we wouldn’t have had to spend more than a little on food. You could make it a potluck, so that food isn’t even an expense. Getting the extended family or several friend’s families together almost guarantees fun for everyone and the planning doesn’t have to be extensive or complicated.
You could fill an entire year with the things listed here and never wonder what to do. When your child has a birthday or has a reason to celebrate after a sport or other activity, check your list. It could be that the thing your child appreciates more than anything else is right there.