We all know kids aren’t cheap. First, it’s nappies and bottles and ALL the rest of the stuff. And some more nappies. And of course, you need to clothe and feed them. Can we say cha-ching?
Yes, yes, they are worth it, but when money is tight, it’s nice to come up with free (or at least very cheap) ways to keep them entertained or wear them out on a weekend. Here are some ideas to get you started so you can keep more of that hard-earned money. And hopefully you can have some fun doing these activities too!
It’s most parents’ go-to activity that doesn’t cost a cent, and we understand why. It gets kids outdoors, running around and expending energy. There are usually excellent ways to find out about playgrounds in your area from Google Maps, to local parent information websites.
Google ‘playgrounds’ + name of your town or area and you’re always bound to find lots of information. Another good search is parks with playgrounds + name of your city to find good listings of places to try out. This way, you can make a fun game out of trying all the different playgrounds in the area and letting everyone pick favourites.
Go to the beach
If you live near the ocean, consider yourself super lucky because you’ve hit the jackpot on a free activity for your kids. Most kids love building sand castles, and even if they don’t venture far out into the water, they’ll at least enjoy getting their feet wet.
Plus some beaches are near calmer waters than others and some have lifeguards on duty (a must with kids near water), so it’s a good idea to do some research to see the best places to go with families.
Go near any water!
Another option for water-related fun is a lake or river with areas to hang out near them – for example, Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head (near Byron Bay) offers an excellent place to swim for families, as well as a good place for stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and canoes–great ways for your older kids to enjoy the visit.
Take a walk
Maybe it’s just a walk with your dog where everyone gets outside and stops watching television. Or you head to a certain area of your town that would make for a fun walk, i.e. lots of people watching and/or shop windows to gaze in, with the added benefit of doing something different.
Of course, the only problem with being near shops is you have to prevent your kids from whining about wanting something!
Visit a free museum or gallery
Again, with a bit of Internet research, it’s usually easy to figure out which museums or galleries in your area offer free admission. Or check out museum websites to see if there are certain days of the week or month that there is free or reduced admission and plan your visit at that time.
Maybe it’s a school holiday, and you have to fill up weekdays, or it’s a certain Saturday in the month that you can pencil in to make your visit.
Go on a hike
This is more than a walk; this involves heading out a local park or if you live near the hinterland, then you’re in luck and probably have hiking easily accessible. Hikes are a great way for kids to really see nature up close — if you plan well, you might be able to end at a really awesome lookout or waterfall. Plus, there’s a chance you’ll see animals in their natural habitat, and kids almost always love a chance to see animals.
Take a picnic
Like many of our suggestions, this involves the great outdoors and a little research. If you can find a great park or BBQ location near other fun stuff like a playground or the beach, then it’s likely to make the picnic more appealing. Pack up food from home or if there are BBQs handy, then you can plan to bring ingredients and make your meal there.
Don’t forget to bring drinks for everyone (maybe even some adult beverages if the time of day works in your favour!).
Look for free live music
Kids often dance spontaneously. Harness that, and let them really go crazy while you listen to live music. See what your kids gravitate towards and normally there’s a way to find whatever style of music you’re looking for from pop to classical that you can listen to for free.
Sometimes you can find live music for kids at local events or festivals. Another idea is look at schedules at local universities with music departments, there are often a number of concerts that are available for no cost. For example, if you live in or around Sydney, the Sydney Music Conservatorium of Music is an excellent option for free concerts.
Keep your eyes peeled for discount movie days
So, it’s raining, nature and the outdoors are free, so many of the activities we’re suggesting involve going outside. But sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans. That’s when you need alternate plans. Going to a movie is always a good option.
However, it’s not free and really between tickets, snacks and drinks, it adds up quickly. So check around at either your favourite local theatre’s website or the parent websites we mentioned earlier. Look for discount days or sometimes during school holidays the theatre may have cheap matinees before noon.
If you find yourself strapped for cash and need to pay for stuff for the kids, don’t worry there’s a way to make ends meet. Check out the personal online loans from Swoosh Financial. It’s easy and quick for approval, which means you’ll have the money in hand for what you need soon.
And as for free activities for your kids, this list can just be a starting point for thinking about what to do in a different way. There are tons of free things to do or ways to watch for discounted prices on admission, you need to become a savvy parent on a budget!