Every now and again a low cost family weekend is just what is needed to give the bank a rest. However, there are many more benefits to a low cost family weekend than just the money – it actually ends up being quality time spent as a family. I guess in part, this contributes somewhat to a minimalist lifestyle that is often talked about on a number of blogs that I read these days. I’m going to explore this further over the coming months as it is something that I am keen to attempt to put into our lifestyle too.
However, the purpose here, for now anyway, is to look at ways that you can have a low cost family weekend (despite travel costs – fuel etc) and enjoy some quality time with the family.
1Go to the park
Ok, really quite a simple one this. Around all of us are some stunning parks, big ones and small ones. Some with slides and others with vast areas of grass for football, rugby, kite flying, game of rounders, playing ‘IT’ etc. Either way, it is a great way of spending hours and hours of fun time with the family. And, if you are going to be spending hours there, why not take a picnic?
How very British! Picnics are great aren’t they? I certainly remember as a kid the excitement of going out for a picnic. Some homemade sandwiches, BIG bag of crisps and some sweet tooth delights to finish off. Fresh juice such as apple or orange was always a winner too. You could argue that this isn’t so ‘low cost’ but it is certainly a great deal cheaper than eating out and it also gets you all sitting around to enjoy some family time. Don’t forget to pack a good blanket for you all to sit on!
3Camping in the garden
Yes, your neighbours may think that you are a little bonkers doing this but believe me it can be fun! This is a great one to try out if your little ones have not been camping before. As a parent, you have the comfort that the house is only a few footsteps away (should it all go wrong). Enjoy the evening with a bbq, a nice camp fire (marshmallows go down a treat) and some hot chocolate to finish off the evening.
4Go to the beach
For those lucky enough to live by the sea, the beach is often a good way to spend the morning or the day. If your beach allows, this can also be a nice evening activity if you take some disposable BBQs with you and cook some supper (just remember to put everything in the bin at the end of the day).
Crabbing! What a great past time. Aside from purchasing some buckets and some Crabbing line this is very inexpensive at under £10 for the kit. All you then need to do is find yourself a good rockpool that is in a safe place to take the family. This is a great way for the kids to understand a little bit more about marine life and also, if you manage to catch any crabs, don’t forget to handle them safely. Further details on where to go crabbing can be found here.
6Play a family board game
Believe it or not, these are not just designed for Christmas! Board games can be played all year round. Family board games really are a great way of getting all of the family together. Depending on the game you choose it can give a whole different interaction. For example, you wouldn’t play Monopoly with a little one – they would need to be a bit older for that. However, finding some decent puzzles could be quite enjoyable – this is also great for hand and eye development as well as language development. More to the point, a board game can be played again and again. You can even show off to other members of the family at Christmas just how clever your little ones have become!
7Make toys out of cardboard boxes
If your household is anything like ours, then you have plenty of Amazon boxes hanging around that you simply cannot fit into recycling. As we had so many, we looked into what you could do with them. Believe it or not, there are a multitude of things that you can turn these, otherwise wasteful boxes into. Our favourite has to be the car garage. Still a feature in the living room, the car garage lives on. We will be posting more on this as we make a few more and then share how to do these with you.
8Make a scavenger hunt in the garden or around the home
This is a great one. Everyone loves an Easter egg hunt but you don’t need to wait until Easter to have one. The beauty of this is that you can have them all year round. Depending on the age of your little one will very much drive what sort of clues you can lay down. However, perhaps with some of the baking that you are going to achieve on your cost free weekend, these could be a worthwhile treat at the end.
9Do some baking
Baking is a great thing to do. Often suited to a cold winter’s day, but depending on what you are making it could be in the summer too. If baking with the little ones, pick something simple – perhaps some cookies or cupcakes. Decorating cupcakes with squeeze icing is great fun. We now have an absolute cupboard full of topping for cupcakes that he absolutely loves to get everywhere in the kitchen. Not to mention the occasional handful in his mouth – naughty I know. That said, baking really does introduce little ones to the basics of cooking and they can see the result from the egg being cracked right the way up to decorating and eating. You also get some good cakes as parents too!
Gardening; what a broad subject this is. Well, there are many things that you can do with your family in the garden. This very much depends on the season that you are in. For example, in autumn, clearing the leaves can be great fun. There are also a number of vegetables that you can grow in autumn that you can harvest later for winter dinners. Spring has an absolute abundance of thing you can do. There is no age too young to get your little ones into gardening and from our experience, they love it. Our current joy is to pick blackberries – we’ve managed to make lots and lots of jam this year. If you plan it right, you could probably spend most of the day in the garden, so plan ahead and make a good day of it – sometimes you could do with the help!
11Go and feed the ducks
This is an all time children’s favourite. Feeding the ducks makes an amazing visit to local parks and ponds. If it is a large pond, you will often find a variety of ducks and even swans or geese – make sure that you don’t get too close to these – they can get a little personal. One piece of advice when feeding the ducks is to take oats or seeds. For one, the ducks will enjoy it a lot more and secondly, you will be preserving the local habitat in which they and other animals live as bread can contribute to algae in the pond. With little ones, it can also be easier to spread the seed as our son has yet to learn breaking bread into smaller pieces.
Whatever you get up to, enjoy the time with your family. If you have any other ideas, please leave them below in the comments.