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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Five Fun (inexpensive) Family Outdoor Activities

With the summer holidays arriving it's so easy for a lot of parents to dread how much it is going to cost them.  Every activity works out costing a fortune, especially if you have more than one child.  I know with my own family, we have to watch the pennies.  I am not claiming that we never have treats if I can make the cash available but there is no way I can afford to do this regularly so I do look for cheap activities and this is what I do.

#1 The Library
First, I contact the library.  My local library has activities on for children that are either free, or cheap.  I know they release the brochure two weeks before the summer holidays begin and you have to be in there first as childminders are also aware of this and can book a large amount of places as these are on a first come, first served basis.  If libraries don't offer activities, it's worth checking out local community centres too!

#2 Picnic
I know, I know, it's a little cliche and I mentioned a tea party in my indoor activities but a picnic is different as you carefully select your place.  We often schedule a day and pack a picnic, all sharing a little of the load in a backpack.  I tend to involve the kids and we make quiche, pasta salads, and flapjacks rather than the traditional sandwiches.  I make sure I pack plenty of drinks, and if we go to the park we take bread for the ducks.  Sometimes we walk up to an outdoors centre too which has a great play ground but the walk is quite a distance.  Involve your kids in your food - chop carrots and cheese, or even make a fruit salad - make cakes or scones, whatever you think.  If you are happy with sandwiches then that's fine, but by baking a few items it can really make the picnic more interesting.  I would even make a more exciting picnic if we were going out in the car too!  You could give your picnic a theme and if you have young children, what about a teddy bear picnic?

#3 Treasure Hunt
Making a treasure hunt is easy! You either draw a map or write clues - or both.  You can write riddles to make it last a bit longer and the prize can be as little or as large as you like.  If you have a garden this is ideal but if not, then it could be a little trickier, especially if you are going to a public place.  You need to know the place, however you could give clues and riddles, and once the child guesses the correct place and goes to it, you then give them the next clue rather than them having to find it.  you could keep your 'treasure' on you and when they discover your 'thought-of' hiding place, you could then hand over the goods.  This can be fun, and it can take minimal set up as you just have to write a few clews.

#4 Nature and Landmark Trail
This is also a good exercise if you are walking somewhere or are visiting a place were there is plenty of bugs and nature as they make things more interesting.  You can have landmarks you pass on the way listed on a tick sheet.  For nature you could ask questions asking them to name three bugs they find and even three flowers they find.  It's important you know the place you are going in order to do this activity too.  Sometimes you can print them off the internet too is you search.  They are fairly cheap too!  Use your imagination as you could also do a similar type of exercise at the beach too.  I also sometimes take paper and a pencil and use shells underneath and scribble over them to get the pattern.

#5 Museum
This may not be applicable to everyone but the museum were I live is free.  This means we walk down to it, have a look, and then we can visit the cafe for a drink or come away.  It's near McDonald's so sometimes we settle for a mcflurry!  They change their displays, sometimes have events on, and there is a dressing box so the kids can get dressed up and I take their picture.  We can have an enjoyable, inexpensive outing here and are pretty lucky it's free. It's not the best museum in the world but it's interesting.  We also have a free Art Gallery close by too so you can have a day of excursions and it's quite close to our town centre.  It's well worth doing some research and seeing if you have anything similar near you!

Well, these are my ideas.  Having three children means that almost every activity works out expensive as I could access the swimming baths, or there is an Ice rink in a nearby town too.  My children love camping, which works out a cheap family holiday but they also like days out at theme parks and love to have a holiday too!  I do try to do what I can with them but cost is an issue.

My advice
There are so many activities that you may not know about, and some places have some excellent offers too so use your imagination, plan an outing budget, and do some research too!  Set out the rules to your children about what you have to spend before you go so that they are clear.

If you have any questions, or if you have a comment to make below, share.  Tell us what you do as an inexpensive family activity or ask for advice if you struggle to stick to your budget!  Children like to do anything as long as they can be entertained and you know them better than anyone!

Don't forget to chillax too, it is summer afterall!

Laters, Janet :)

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