Have fun, save money, and spend time with the family at home
You’re low on cash, and your kids are bored. After looking at your bank account, you realize you can’t afford to entertain the family today by going to a movie, paying to go out to eat, or even spending the day shopping. That means you’re all going to be stuck at home. Fortunately, you probably have items hanging around the house that you’ve completely forgotten exist. Board games, family movies, old blankets, and forgotten bubble bath soap are just sitting somewhere in your house. A day at home is a great opportunity to clean up and put those long-forgotten items to use.
Here’s seven activities you and your family can do at home for free.
1. Spend family time learning to bake
Do you have some baking supplies sitting around the house? All you need is some butter, flower, and sugar (eggs, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla are a bonus). Teach your kids how to make some delicious sugar cookies.
2. Discover the joy of reading
Studies consistently show that young kids actively enjoy story time with their parents. Spending quality time and reading together can actually improve school grades later in life for kids. Reading at a young age can improve language skills, increase concentration skills, improve creativity, improve cognitive development, prepare kids for academic success, cultivate kids for a love of reading, and can even help you bond with your child.
If you don’t own kids’ books, you can always run to your local public library to check out a few free books. It’s usually free to sign up for a library card, and it gets you access to books, DVDs, CDs, magazines, audiobooks, and even video games. Alternatively, if you just want to stay home, you can always look for free kids’ books online. Depending on the reading level of the book, you could read it aloud, or have your child read too. Will your next book be filled with adventure, or with exciting science facts?
3. Learn to play a new game of balloon ball
Do you have a few balloons around the house? Blow up a balloon and play balloon ball. You can play a game of catch, or just try to keep it from touching the floor. Changing the rules changes the game. Do you have to go in a specific order around the room? Are you allowed to kick the balloon? Are you trying to get others to let the balloon fall?
Need a more advance game of balloon ball? Care.com has 5 more indoor balloon games for kids, including: balloon catch, balloon ping pong, balloon hockey, balloon squeeze ball, and balloon basketball. Some of these games require other tools that you’re likely to have around the house, such as a kitchen funnel, tape, paper plates, pocket change, cardboard, and a basket.
4. It’s okay to have the occasional movie day
Make some popcorn and curl up on the couch to watch some movies. You must have movies somewhere, either DVDs, or an online streaming service. If you don’t have a streaming service, you could always sign up for a free trial, and then cancel the service before they bill your card. The library also has free movies that you can check out. This could even be a great time to watch some of those old family videos.
Blanking on every kids’ movie that’s out there? Red Tricycle has 83 movies that your kids must see before they’re 10. They list so many classics, including everything from The Goonies to Toy Story!
5. Redecorate the living room
Okay, maybe don’t actually redecorate the living room, but you could move some furniture around and bring out some blankets and pillows to build a fort. This is a great way for kids to have fun and use their imagination. If you haven’t built a fort in over 15 years, and aren’t quite sure where to begin, WikiHow has an article about making the perfect pillow fort. Don’t forget snacks. The best kind of lunch is a lunch in a pillow fort. A pillow fort can be combined with many of the other activities on this list. It’s a great place to read a book, watch a movie, or play boardgames; and it’s the perfect place for an afternoon nap. The possibilities are endless!
Have a child that suffers from allergies? You can use a dryer sheet to remove pet hair and dust from the couch cushions and old blankets. A dryer sheet can also work to help diffuse scent and static electricity.
If building a fort isn’t for you, you could always play Floor Is Lava and layout pillows, blankets, and other furniture for your kids to walk on, instead of stepping on the floor. Just remember to keep a careful eye on your kids to make sure they don’t fall.
6. Why playing board games aren’t boring
Do you have some old board games lying around the house? A family game of Monopoly or Life can be really fun. Studies show that playing board games can result in family bonding, improving memory formation and cognitive skills, improving response time, reducing the chance of mental disease later in life, and even lowering blood pressure.
Don’t own board games? You could play a game of cards. You can teach your kids how to play Slapjack, Go Fish, War, or Rummy. If you need to freshen up on your card game rules, Bicycle Cards has a list of kids’ card games, along with their rules. You’ll be playing Crazy Eights, Concentration, and Old Maid like a whiz sooner than you know.
If you don’t have cards, you can play Simon Says, 21 Questions, Follow the Leader, Red light Greenlight, or I Spy. If none of these ideas work for you, or you have a more active kid, here are 25 indoor exercise games for kids.
7. Bubble baths are always great
Have some bubble bath or a bath bomb lying around? If it’s been long-forgotten and sitting underneath your bathroom sink, it’s definitely time to use it. Fill the bath tub with toys and toss in some bubbles! Kids love it.
Bonus: They’re likely to completely forget that it’s their ‘bath time’.
Along with entertaining the kids, you’ll also need to make sure you all eat. Warm comfort foods are always the best on days that you’re all stuck at home. Fortunately, these types of foods also tend to be the most affordable, readily available around the house, and easy to make. Warm soup such as chicken noodle soup, cream of potato soup, or even a vegetable soup are all excellent ideas. You can’t go wrong with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup! A peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be improved with warm toasted bread. Even a bowl of chili may sound appetizing. These are all meals that you can make that easily cost less than $3 to prepare.
Don’t spend your purchase-free day just lying around the house, bored. There’s plenty of fun activities to do around the house for free. With this list, hopefully you find that you’re actively looking forward to that next day you’re all stuck at home.