When the schools are closed, whether during lockdown or the long summer holidays, many parents struggle to keep the kids busy. The TV and devices are usually a surefire way to keep them occupied, but this can result in an increased electricity bill. And when money’s tight, this can be a challenge in itself.
Trying to keep the kids busy and not on devices is hard, but there are all sorts of cheap and cheerful activities to try instead. You never know, they might even be fun for parents too. Here are some ideas that won’t bust the budget.
Tidy bedrooms and extra cash
How come kids never seem to want to tidy their bedrooms even when they’re bored? Perhaps they’d be more likely to do it with an incentive, so why not suggest making a pile of things to sell via websites like eBay or Gumtree? This will encourage them to be sustainable with their old stuff, and might earn them some extra pocket money too.
Keep in touch with older relatives
It may have been a while since the kids have visited their grandparents and older family members. Why not encourage younger children to draw or paint a picture and older ones to write a letter? It doesn’t have to be long and it’s fun to wait for a reply in the post – this can be a lovely way to share news and it’s better than receiving bills!
Build a den
This is still at the top of the list for most children, provided you don’t mind a bit of mess. All the kids need is a few blankets and their imaginations to build a cool den. If you have a garden and the weather’s good, you can get them outdoors for ages building and enjoying their creation.
Picnics and chats
With everything that’s happened this year with the pandemic and lockdown, it’s really important for kids to talk about how they’re feeling. This can be challenging, but having time together and enjoying each other’s company can open up space for a chat. Why not ask the kids if they fancy a picnic and have lunch outside with a blanket to sit on? When you’re chatting, try to ask open questions such as, ‘How are you feeling about X?’ rather than ones with a yes or no answer.
Here’s a trick for craft-loving kids. Make your own glue with just flour, water and a pinch of salt. Stir water into the flour until you get the desired gooey consistency. If it’s too thick, add a small amount of water. If it’s too thin, add a bit more flour. Finally, add a pinch of salt to prevent mould and store in a sealed container ready to use later on.
If your family likes quizzes, you could get each person to come up with a round on their favourite subject and have a family fun night.
Don’t forget the fun of a good old fashioned board game or a deck of cards. Many traditional board games were invented by ordinary people at home with their families, so if you don’t have any, you could challenge the kids to make their own? Who knows? Their creation could be the one we’ll all be playing in the future!
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity which, through local churches, delivers debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups, and support for people breaking habitual dependencies.