Have fun and leave the wallet at home!

I have been getting quite a few emails lately of Mom’s asking how I keep the kids busy on a budget. I have emailed most of you back, but figured I would share my ideas with everyone.
School is in for most, but others are still home with little ones. Also, the weather will still be warm for another few weeks. Here’s some ways you can take advantage of those weeks wether during school hours, or after the kiddos get home from school.
If the weather is warm, get your butt outside. Nothing is going to wear your kids out more than having free reign of lawn and dirt.
Playgrounds: There’s always playgrounds around. The thing I love about my house is we are 3 houses away from one!! It is so easy to take a quick trip to the park to eat a picnic lunch and play on the playground.
Duck Pond: Did you know that most bakeries will sell you their older bread for like $.25 or even give it to you free if you tell them you are going to feed the ducks? And really, what kid doesn’t love chasing the ducks around?!
Lake: There’s a ton of lakes that you can get in to for every inexpensive! Go play for the whole entire day with picnic meals! Go fishing, swimming, rock throwing (one of The Little Man’s newest discoveries!), build sand castles, etc. Just spend time together as a family!
Farmers Market: I love that Farmers Markets are becoming more and more popular. You can find them in almost every city. I’m sure if you wanted, you could hit one every day of the week! We love to go and see all the great talented vendors, sample the incredible foods and hang out with all the neighbors you’ll run into. Plus, there’s almost always FREE kids crafts!


Splash Pad: We have recently discovered so many city parks around the state of Utah that have put in FREE splash pads! What a fabulous way to keep cool on the scorching summer days.
Backyard competitions: Make up dumb games. -Who can roll down the hill the fastest? -Who can kick the ball the highest? -Who can spin around the longest?
To the simple minded, any little game is hours of fun!
Learn a new sport: We are currently teaching The Little Man how to hit a ball with a bat. Last year he learned to golf (or the gist of it!). I’m excited to be a “soccer mom” (or whatever sport) and we are starting early to teach him all of them so that he will know what he likes and be able to pick what he wants to participate in.
Play in a personal pool and sprinklers: You can buy little pools for around $5-$10 at Walmart. Our was $8 last year, and we are on our second season of it!! The pool has literally been my lifesaver this summer!
Outdoor Movie Night: A bunch of cities will have FREE movie night once a month of so. Check your city website for the community calendar. But you can still have one even if your city doesn’t do it. Just bring your TV outside, lay out some blankets, and enjoy. Just don’t forget the bug spray. They love those florescent lights!
What other time wasting, outdoor family fun ideas do you have? Comment and share so everyone can know.
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  1. Great ideas. I wish our tiny town had more of those things. However, last year’s Slip ‘N Slide kept two 15 year old boys busy for about a hour the other day. It was hilarious to watch them try to surf down the thing on a kick board.

  2. it’s all about the park! We also like to throw a big flying disc around that we got at the dollar store. and blow bubbles and draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

  3. Hi Vanessa,

    I love your website! I am the social media manager for a wonderful company called FamilyMint (FamilyMint.com) and like to post ideas about thrifty living on their social media pages (currently Facebook and Pinterest). I’d like to feature your website in one of my upcoming posts (next Thursday, August 29th). I wanted to check with your first before I did so. This is what the post will say:

    Playtime with your children doesn’t have to include expense. Check out “Play-at-Home Mom” Vanessa Barker’s “frugal fun” ideas at http://www.ourthriftyideas.com.

    Please let me know if this is okay. In the mean time, I will find you on FB and will like your page. We’d also appreciate you liking FamilyMint.

    Have a wonderful day,

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