May 6, 2011

Friday Frugal 101: 15 Fun and Frugal Things to Do with Your Children This Spring Without Leaving the House!

Guest Post by Brandy Simper, The Prudent Homemaker

I’m always on the lookout for fun and frugal activities to do with my children. I particularly like activities that don’t involve the cost of gas. You don’t have to go to a “free” activity and spend $8 in gas just to get there. Doing something different from the every day routine, or just spending time together as a family, can be fun, without costing much (if anything) at all.

1. Have a doll washing day- Baby dolls need baths, too. Set up a washtub in the yard (you can use a bucket, or even an old real baby bathtub, if that’s what you have). Use a little dish soap, and bring out some washcloths, sponges, and scrub brushes. While you’re at it, you can wash the doll clothes, too.

2. Wash the car- Let the children don their swimsuits while everyone helps to wash the car. I loved this chore as a child, and my children love it, too.

3. Paint some watercolors 

4. Take spring photos of your children- On a beautiful day (or two or three), take pictures of your children. You can do a photo shoot inside or out. Take some group shots, as well as individual shots of each of your children.

5. Sprout some wheat grass- If you store whole wheat for making bread, you can grow some wheat grass at home. Your children will have fun watching it grow taller each day. You can also sprout lentils or beans. Use whatever you have in your pantry. I throw spouted lentils and beans into stir fries when they’re done. You can put wheat grass in your smoothies.

6. Teach them how to sew- Both my boys and girls are fascinated by sewing. Teach them how to sew on buttons, mend clothing, make doll clothes and embroider.

7. Draw with sidewalk chalk- You can draw pictures and play hopscotch—together.

8. Play ball

9. Have a picnic in your own backyard- Get out the blankets, and set up for a picnic at home. Don’t have a backyard or it’s raining? Spread the blanket out in the living room.

10. Make jelly- Whether gathering dandelions, violets, Johnny jump-ups, lavender or chamomile, or using strawberries in season, your children can help make you to make jelly.

11. Make some nature-inspired spring crafts, using items around the house and garden5 Orange Potatoes has several fantastic projects.

12. Put together some puzzles, and play some board games- Since our children have different levels of playing ability (based on their different ages) we have found that keeping one child up to play a game after the others are tucked in gives him the chance to have a date with mom and dad.

13. Play with clay- You can make some homemade playdough, or get a package or two of clay (Michael’s has the Rose Art clay for $1). Take pictures of everyone’s creations when you’re

14. Turn on some music and dance! 

15. Run races- At my house, we like to run several different races. We’ll run around the yard, across the yard, and we’ll race inside the house. We’ll also race from the edge of the living room carpet to the bedroom some nights when it’s time for bed. I like that race the most, because it usually
ends with everyone giggling.

Brandy Simper is the mother of 6 children, ages 1-9. Her childhood memories include being “allowed” to fingerpaint outside (she knows now that her mom was protecting the inside from paint!), making fairy houses with rocks in the garden, playing with playdough, and dancing to music. You can find her at home every day, teaching her children, gardening, cooking, and sewing. She writes
about frugal living at The Prudent Homemaker.


Sassy said...

How fun! :)

Love You Always & Forever said...

What a great post!! So many awesome ideas! I am going to have to bookmark this page to come back to it this summer I think!! Thanks for the great post!


~SALLY~ said...

Oh! Thanks for reminding me of that HUGE bucked of sidewalk chalk in my closet! I have been meaning to get it out for my daughter to use on our driveway! These are really great ideas...thanks!! :)

Darcy said...

Never thought of a doll washing party! Great idea!

Jenn said...

Brandy I know this is sort of a wierd question but I was wondering how many days in a row you stay home. Gas is $4.29 a gallon where I live and am trying to stay home more often but after about 2 days I feel a little stir crazy. Trying to make tank of gas last a week and a half. 20 miles round trip to town. I live in the country with no neighbors and it gets lonely but can't justify my boredom with wasting gas! Thanks for the tips!

Donna said...

Great ideas Brandy!
Love the sweet pictures of your children! They look like they are having big fun!

Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker said...


It's a good question.

I am often home for 6 days in a row. Sometimes I get a chance to run an errand, but we live from our pantry so often that I don't get to go shopping for anything very often. I do go to church on Sunday, but if one of the children gets sick--which happens more often now that I have six children--then I stay home with the sick child/children. I have stayed home for 3 weeks at a time many months.

Even the library costs gas. I am thankful that I can check books out for 3 weeks from our library, and renew them online (twice, even!)

The trick to not going stir crazy (in my opinion) is to 1) go outside EVERY day, and, 2) have hobbies! If you have fun things to do at home, you'll find that being home more often means that you have a chance to get them done.
People are always asking me how I manage to get so much done. The simple truth is that I am home! For example, I spend about 7 hours a week in the garden. I HAVE 7 hours to spend because I am not spending those 7 hours driving to places and standing in line to make purchases. I have time to sew for the same reason.

I have a TON to do at home, and by being home, I actually get some :) of it done.

Robyn said...

these are all such awesome ideas! great post!

Katie said...

What a great post. I am definitely going to bookmark this page because I can always use a reminder of what to do with my kids when they say "we're bored!"

Anonymous said...

I loved your post, and loved your lengthy comment about staying home even more! Much food for thought for this mama!

Thank you,