Updated: Aug 28, 2020
It’s no secret that kids can be expensive. In order to work, my kids attend (and thrive) in daycare five days per week. That runs us over $2000 per month.
But what about fun activities with your children?
We certainly live as frugally as we can and also don’t deprive our kids of fun or educational things to do. Near Boston, prices can run high, so we pick and choose, weighing the pros and cons of each activity.
Our two are currently 5 and 2, so our activities might not look the same as yours, but our Saver principles should help carry into their older years.
First, we spring for one annual membership per year and cycle through the age appropriate, fun, and educational options. So far, we had a zoo membership one year and aquarium the next, alternating between the two. In the coming years, we’ll look at the Museum of Science.
Second, we prioritize activities with friends. This means that we usually get the highest cost membership each year, but it also means that each experience is different for our kids and much more fun. They enjoy it more, so want to do that activity more often and learn more while we’re there. We can generally get the other family in for free (for them).
Third, we make our own fun and use our imaginations and resources available. That sometimes looks like teaching the kids how to play frisbee in the park or bike riding in a large, usually empty parking lot. Sometimes it looks like using fabric markers on white fabric masks, so we each have our uniquely designed masks during the pandemic.
As the kids get older, we’ll be instilling a sense of ownership for their own activities. Starting this year, if our Kindergarten age daughter wants to join a school sport that costs money (they all do), she’ll be allowed to join one per year. Any more than that and she’ll have to make (half) the money for the team expenses. I’m thinking about her making and selling muffins door to door around here for her school team fees.
We’ll also lean on our church activities. As a younger child and teenager, I loved attending weekly church group meetings and youth group. We volunteer already to lead some of these in our current church and can’t wait for our own children to get involved.
I hope this gave you some ideas. Children don’t need expensive toys or to be part of many school sports teams. They need to be loved, given boundaries, and held to a standard. They should be taught how the world works, how the world should work, and the value of a dollar. These are important lessons you can weave into everyday life within your family.
As our children get older, I’m sure we’ll have different experiences. Please share what has worked for you!