Article Courtesy of The Examiner
By Valerie Powers
Most mamas and papas will tell you that it is simply exhausting trying to keep a young child placated all day. A previous piece, How to keep your toddler occupied during a recession, offered up low-cost ideas for families. Here, we’ll explore FREE ideas to keep your wee one occupied.
Take a hike – around your local park, neighborhood, or even visit a new neighborhood for a change of scenery. Perhaps you’ll encounter some friendly ducks to feed, or new landscape to gaze at. This also gives the added benefit of exercise (we need at least a half hour per day, folks). If you’re fortunate enough to have all four seasons; take your child out to explore the amazing colors of the Fall foliage.
Volunteer – instilling a sense of community and civic obligation should start at a young age. Volunteering at a nursing home, animal shelter or food bank will teach your children invaluable life lessons, and will also pass quite a bit of time. Additionally, your child will leave with a sense of accomplishment, and perhaps a new friend or two. Volunteer Match is a great starting point, and you can visit them HERE.
Make crafts from recycled household items – children usually love to try something new, so look at innovative ways to craft at home. You can recycle old magazines and news papers for coloring (kids love this, for some reason) and you can make “spray paint” by adding tempera paint (or other non-toxic paint) to a spray bottle with some water. This is not only a unique way to dispense the paint, but it also stretches the life of the paint. You can also make a bubble mixture with the remnants of an old dish soap bottle…there are limitless ways to bring discarded and old things to life. Visit the link on Trash to Treasure for more inspiration, HERE.
Here’s a video demonstration of how to make a free bird feeder from recycled household items (note that even a busy mama is doing this!):
Go to the next page for more ideas!
Pack a picnic lunch or dinner from your pantry – this fulfills two parenting obligations: feeding your child (which is already an adventure for most of us) and getting outside. You can even have your picnic meal at your own home. This change of pace can be exciting for kids. And hey, you just may coerce them to eat their veggies!
Print out free coloring and activity sheets – there are a myriad of sites offering up free activities for kids. This is also a great way to give kids something new to do, if they have tired of their current collection of coloring and activity books. Free items can be found HERE and HERE and HERE!
Cook with your child – again, this fulfills a household obligation, however, inviting kids into the kitchen is quite a bit of fun. Select tasks and recipes that they can easily help with – something that will frustrate them is not a good choice; this may deter them from the kitchen. Ideas for cooking with kids can be found by visiting the link Cooking with your Toddler as well as FamilyFun Magazine’s Cooking with Kids section.
Looking for something to do that’s fun and educational? Click here for great (and cheap!) ideas.