Last weekend, I took my two youngest daughters to see a movie. We went to a 3-D showing and purchased a few snacks from the concession stand. When all was said and done, we spent $82 … in one afternoon! While our family can afford to splurge like this on occasion, it’s not something we can do every Saturday.
Thankfully, my girls don’t need expensive amusements. They have parents — silly parents. And, a little bit of silliness goes a long way when entertaining grade school aged children. Even teenagers can enjoy a laugh or two at mom and dad’s expense. The only thing it will cost is your dignity.
Here are five ways I entertain my kids, without spending a dime:
1. Putting on Plays, Talent Shows, and Recitals
Far from the streets of New York, many an off-off-Broadway production is staged in our family room. The costumes are hilarious and the acting won’t win any Tony Awards, but my children can spend hours putting together the perfect show. Sometimes I’m just the audience. Other times, I participate.
Can you touch your tongue to your nose? Do a headstand? Perhaps you are a (slightly less than) world class juggler, like my husband. Chances are your kids will find these hidden talents vastly amusing. So, drag those old skeletons out of the closet along with a rusty band instrument or two and show your kids what you’ve got. Maybe you’ll inspire them to discover talents of their own.
2. Playing Games at the Dinner Table
No one in our family will forget the night we played a wacky game of trivia loosely based on the television show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Complete with life lines such as “Phone a Grandparent” and “Ask Google,” each member of the family took turns answering questions until we crowned a champion. No real money was awarded, but we had a great time and created lasting memories.
Some other dinnertime favorites include:
- 20 Questions
- Mad Libs
- A to Z Game (pick a category, such as food, and think of an answer for each letter of the alphabet)
3. Dancing Around the House
I have no idea why this is so darn amusing. I am an excellent dancer. But for some reason, laughs abound when we crank up the music and throw a spontaneous dance party.
Really want to have your kids rolling on the floor? Make up your own dance moves and don’t forget to give them a fun name. My youngest daughter’s favorite is the “Running Chicken.” Think running man meets the chicken dance. Enough said.
4. Playing in the Sand, Snow, or Leaves
Kids love to bury their parents in piles of sand, snow, or leaves. Or, at least mine do. Should I be worried?
Building sand castles, jumping in leaf piles, and having snow ball fights make me feel like a kid again. I can let go of my adult concerns and just have fun. My kids get to see me stressed out more than I’d like, so it’s nice for them to see a different side of me.
5. Creating Something Out of Nothing
I walked into the garage one afternoon to find my daughters and a few friends sitting in the middle of the floor with the contents of the recycle bin. Before I knew it, they had crafted bookmarks from old cereal boxes and decorative pencil holders from plastic water bottles.
Most kids love to create. Instead of purchasing the latest craft kits, turn trash into treasure by collecting unused items for your children to use in their masterpieces.
Possible items to include might be:
- Paper grocery sacks
- Fabric remnants
- Paper towel and toilet paper tubes
- Old tissue boxes
- Unmatched socks
- Yarn or string
- Rocks, twigs, flowers, and leaves from the yard
Bring out this box of goodies from time to time and unleash your inner artist right alongside your children.
Fun doesn’t have to cost $82. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything. Creativity, spontaneity, and silliness are totally free. I plan to continue taking full advantage of their powers to amuse. I hope you will, too!