Fatherhood: 7 Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time with Your Kids
Yep, money is tight but that is not going to stop you from being a great dad. First off, since this isn’t 1950 any more, I don’t have to tell you how important it is for you to find time to spend being Dad with your kids and not at your kids, right? With that settled, here are some ways you can do several fun things with your kids that will cost you nothing or are otherwise very inexpensive.
1. Take a walk.
Go walking your children around the block, around the park, around your back yard if you must. You will most likely need the exercise to get rid of your growing middle and your child needs to see something besides the TV or the back of your head while they ride in your car.
2. Go to the zoo (or something like that).
Get off the expensive and mind-numbing amusement-park daddy-go-round. There are affordable places (like museums and zoos) for you to go where your child can see new things, touch a turtle, make some pictures and hear a dinosaur’s roar or the like. This is a huge learning opportunity for your kid and most of these places are very affordable to visit. Super hint: many museums have monthly or weekly free-admission days. I know this will be hard for some dads who do not like to be in places like this. News flash: This is about your kids, not you and your boring man-world. With my kids now much older, I regret not having done more of this with them when they were little.
3. Eat in an interesting place.
Sure, the in-front-of-the-TV space has become the new kitchen table. Try having more meals at the dining room table. Then, get interesting and have a picnic. Make sandwiches, grab some chips and celery sticks and go sit somewhere to eat. The park or the tables outside the mall will work just fine. You are making memories here, dad. Warning: this is for your little kids. Do this outside the mall with pre-teens and you might die from the dirty looks they will give you.
4. Tell your kid a story. No books allowed.
Yep, put down that storybook and tell your kids some stories. Look your kid in the eye and tell them stories in your own way. You will bond with them and help them with their future literacy at the same time.
5. Do some full-body finger painting.
No little child can resist finger paint. On a warm day, grab some big pieces of paper, put out the cheap finger paints and go at the art-thing with your toddler. We found a roll of cheap paper at the teaching-supply shop and watched our kid paint up her body and roll about on the paper. Now we had huge art and great memories.
6. Wash your car.
Frankly, you could wash anything with rags and suds and your toddler or preschooler would be happy. Get out buckets, sponges, plenty of dish-soap and your grubby clothes and wash your car. Or a fence. Or your front door. Or your dog. Wet-laughing will ensue.
7. Make cookies.
In the old days, you had to know how to make cookie dough before you could bake cookies. If you know how to do make dough, that is all the better. Short of making dough, you can buy pre-made buckets of cookie dough at nearly any grocery store. Buy the dough and a few inexpensive candies or sprinkles and you have baking fun. When you are waiting out the baking times, do number 4 above.
There are many more ways to spend some inexpensive time with your kid. Your time shared with a child is more important than the money you spend in that time. Dive in now as they will be giant tweens before you know it. Then, you will need a new list.
The author, Sean Buvala, has four children ranging in age from preteen to adult. He especially likes number four in this list (storytelling) as he is the author of the fatherhood training book, “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.”