Frugal Family Fun


Before you read the bulk of this blog post – please hear my heart…..this is not a blog post to put any kind of pressure on you.

Cos we’ve all read THOSE kinda blog posts before.  Right?  The whole not only am I supposed to be feeding my kids healthy foods and nothing but healthy, but those kids of mine are also to be doing a million chores around the house, happily, whilst being high achievers in every area of life, not addicted to electronics of any kind, giving back to the community in every free moment and speaking three languages and playing four instruments by the age of ten, kinda blog posts.

No pressure, people!  No pressure. I’m not writing this blog to create more pressure for you – rather – to offer some ideas and to ask others for more ideas, for things to make your life EASIER.  And more relaxed.

So…when you read the words…..Frugal Family Fun….don’t be thinking….’so now we have to plan all these fun family events now?, I’m struggling to even work out what we’re going to eat for dinner’…, no pressure……just some ideas and tips, if that is something you may be after… day….

This is a weird thing to admit, but ‘fun’ doesn’t come easily to me as a Mum.  I remember once signing up my oldest to be part of a University Study of four year olds.  I thought it would be an easy 20 bucks.  Turns out I was wrong.  I had to answer a whole bunch of questions about him, and then we were observed as I sat down to play with him.  Now that is a weird thing.  To have someone observe you  ‘play’.  Weird.  It was then that I realized that ‘fun’ doesn’t come easily to me.  I can clean/ cook/ organize/ plan like a champ….but I have to work at being ‘fun’.

Our family right now consists of a tween, an eight year old and a preschooler, not always an easy mix of ages to please.  And like most of you, we’re on a tight budget……so we’ve had to devise ways to have fun.  Frugal family fun.

These are some of the things that come to mind –

*  Board games – some of our favourites include Settlers of Catan, Risk and Ticket to Ride.  The trick to playing these with a toddler/ preschooler around is to delegate them some jobs to do – pieces to place, or to play them while it is naptime or bedtime for the youngest.

*  a lot of our family times center around food…..homemade pizza nights, picnics,  fondue, brinner (breakfast for dinner) etc.  One day a while back I surprised the kids by making them dessert. For dinner.  Dessert was the dinner.  In fact a trio of desserts – and two of them were fruity ones – so healthy! – but that was dinner.  After initially thinking I was completely wacko, the boys ended up loving it.

*  Family nights – a non-negotiable once a week event in our family.  We take turns planning it (kids included) – it could be a movie night, or a board game, or a ninja baking night (bake something and try to deliver it to people without being seen).

*  Family walk/ hike/ tramp/ bushwalk.  Our oldest once told us he’s only 6% into nature.  And its true.  All three kids would prefer to be dealing with something electronic than the great outdoors – but grizzle as they do before an outing to the great outdoors, once they are out and about the complaining stops and there is some level of enjoyment.

*  Befriend people who own swimming pools.  Also if possible befriend people with holiday houses and boats…..;-)

*  The #O’Brien Style $2 Mall Challenge – read about that here

*  Water gun/ water balloon/ slip’n’slide fun……or if you’re lucky enough to be near snow….snow fun…….

*  Donut parties – very easy to make yourself and cheap!  Make a batch, invite a crowd!

* ‘Flip a coin drive’ – before each intersection flip a coin, heads you turn one way, tails you turn the other way…..finish it up with McDonald’s ice cream cones….

*  Beach/ lake/ river.

*  Letterboxing/ geo-caching.

*  Costco samples on a Saturday – time it right and you don’t need to feed them lunch.

*  Seasonal fruit foraging – put those kids to work!  (blackberries were the best in Oregon as they are everywhere in summer – and free, another favourite of ours was peach-picking).


Now, your turn.  What are your best frugal family fun ideas?  Please share!