Children can happily turn anything into a great toy or amazing new game. Last night Isabella used junk paper to make a game resembling hopscotch. Today she is pretending our kitchen table is a playhouse. As parents we are pressed to buy expensive toys that will entertain our children or make them more intelligent. They receive countless toys for birthdays and holiday gifts. Many of these requiring batteries that take a toll on our pocketbooks as well as the environment. Then the toys break and they help to fill our ever expanding landfills. When in reality our children learn more from playing with everyday items and using their imaginations. Makes me wonder, Why do we bother?
Here are 5 ideas for spending time with the kids on the cheap:
- The Local Park –Kids of all ages (including 29, Wink, Wink!) love to swing and play on the monkey bars. The park is a timeless outing! Depending on where you live it is either free or very cheap. It is a fun way to pass the afternoon. I love to bring a picnic & plenty of drinks to make it a whole day event.
- Historic Site – Be it a small town or a big city something important happened within a short drive. Everywhere we have lived we have found cool historical sites. Some are locally important but many are important on a state or country level. Many sites are free or under $5 to visit. The best way to approach a historical outing is to learn a few key points before visiting. It is very hard for a child or even an adult to get excited about seeing the childhood home of a President if they do not know who they are.
- Art!- Be it a museum, a local exhibit, or a public piece, art is just plain cool. Art can spark all kinds of questions and interesting conversations with your family. The only rule to this is to make sure the place allows children (Many art galleries allow kids during the daytime.) and that the art is child appropriate. I once took my kids to the Contemporary Photography Museum in Chicago. The place was great and Free! The only issue was a large photo collection depicting murder that was a little disturbing. Consider a walk through or ask the front desk if you are concerned of what your children may see.
- The Public Library- Any of you that follow my writing know how much I love a good library! We have been to so many! Over the years we have enjoyed train tables, block sets, car tracks, puppet theaters, toys, computer games, board games, puzzles, story times, classes (from Origami to sea creatures including a real penguin), a petting zoo, magicians, belly dancers, contests, ghost stories, and a butterfly release, not to mention quite a few great books.
- The Bakery- If you are in a small town there is likely only one known simply as “The Bakery” and everyone I have ever gotten the joy of visiting was amazing! If you are in the ‘burbs or the city then there are many but I’m betting you have a favorite. Take your kids in for a cookie or donut. Sit down with them and listen to them talk. This time with them is priceless. They will be grown before you know it and you will look back on this time as a treasured memory.
- double pizza crust (bought, homemade, or out of a pouch)
- olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- fresh mozzarella 12 ozs
- 5-6 tomatoes sliced (We used on the vine.)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- parchment paper
We covered the oven rack with parchment paper. Then we brushed it with olive oil. Sprinkled the garlic cloves with a little salt and minced them. Sprinkled the garlic, oregano, and basil over the crust. Placed the sliced tomatoes on the crust in a single layer. Broke up the fresh mozzarella and spread it out evenly. Turned the oven on 450F. Put the rack with the pizza on it in the oven. It was in there for about 5 minutes when we started smelling smoke. Ran to the kitchen to find the edges of the parchment paper on fire. Patted it out. Checked the parchment paper to find that it has an oven proof limit of 420F. Oops! Turned the oven down to 400F. About 10 minutes later the pizza was done. I told the family if it was really awful they did not have to eat it. It turned out that the pizza had a smokey taste like it was cooked in a wood stove. We, a family of four, ate an entire double crust pizza! It was so amazing! Love when mistakes turn into pleasant surprises!