7 Great Free Frugal Ways To Spend Time With Your Kids

We all want to raise a child that is loving and warm, compassionate, and understanding. And how do we do that? By showing them how much we love them.


Have you ever heard the quote “To a child, love is spelled time”? If you think about it, how else can you show them you care?

There are studies that show that love and bonding affect the development of the brain of the child. It also affects how the child later in life handle relationships.

Showing your children you love them can be the easiest thing in the world and it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Always remember that words are also free and tell them how much you love them whenever you can.

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1. Read a Book

This is a classic, but it is a timeless classic. In a world where we spend more and more time in staring at a screen, it’s nice to disconnect and read a good ol’ book.

Let your child pick the book they want you to read, put them in your lap and read them the story.

If it’s a younger child this can be hard to do since not every kid wants to be still for the time it takes to read a book. Or they want to hold the book themselves and skip to the end.

With our daughter, she’s a bit more patient when we comment the pictures in the books and connect them to the story. And if actual reading fails one day, there’s always Where’s Waldo (affiliate link).

Children books can be very expensive. I found that out the other day myself when actually buying a new book for our daughter. 

You don't have to spend money when spending time with your children. This article is about how you can have frugal family fun time together without using a lot of money. Read this article now, or save it for later!

But second-hand books are not expensive.

You can buy a small library for almost nothing in yard sales and second-hand stores. Your kids will most likely not care if the book is new or a bit used. You can always go to the library where you find great books, free. That is if you can't find good second-hand books.

Apart from getting me-time when you read to your kids, the reading helps them increase their ability to enunciate and speak. It also helps them improve their skills at communicating. As an added benefit, they will be likely to think books are fun and good stuff throughout their lives.

Bonus points if you read books that will teach your kids about money.

2. Draw and Paint

Even the youngest children like to draw and paint. And this is great for their fine motor skills as well.

Get the crayons (affiliate link) or finger paint (affiliate link) out and let them go wild. If it’s very young children, make sure it’s paint and crayons that are safe for kids. You know, the paint might as well end up in the mouth as on the paper. 

Kids with blue lipstick anyone?

You might get a bunch of requests to draw famous characters that your child like. And even if you can’t draw at all, it doesn’t matter. Draw a stick figure and call it Donald Duck. If you believe it, your kid's imagination will too.

This isn’t about being the new van Gogh, but to spend some fun time with your child. Throw self-consciousness out the window.

3. Tell a Story

Does your child love pirates, ponies, or pandas? Dim the lights, make a blanket fort and crawl in. Pick one of their favorite topics and start spinning a tale out of your own imagination.

The same advice goes here as with the painting. You’re most likely not the next Shakespeare. That doesn’t matter, your kid will love the whole concept of you telling a story anyway.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about this then prepare a story in your head while you’re at work. And remember, everything gets better with practice.

If you don’t feel like making up stories, tell them stories from your own life. I remember when I grew up, I used to ask my parents to tell me stories of when they were young. It fascinated me to hear about their lives before they became parents.

4. Go for a Walk in the Forest or Park

Not everyone has a forest around the corner, but you might have a park. It’s great for children to spend time in nature and there’s so much to see and learn.

If you know the plants and animals you see while you’re out, tell your child about them. Most children love to listen and learn things and it’s also good for them to get to see and touch the thing you talk about. If you find a pine cone, let them pick it up and feel it, even bring it home and make some sort of craft with it.

Don’t know the plants and animals where you live but you want to be able to tell your kids these things? Google and read up.

Doing this kind of walks in uneven terrain also helps your kid develop their balance skills.

5. Dance and Sing

This is fun for all ages, adults too. Put some music on and encourage your children to move to the beat. Most kids won’t need encouragement, it’s us adults who forget that it’s fun to go nuts to music.

You can also sing together or for your kids. Our daughter loves it and it’s often combined with dancing. It’s nice that someone appreciates my singing.

If you’re not very good at children’s songs and rhymes, do a search on YouTube and let the learning begin.

If you play an instrument, it gets even better. And when your child gets older, teach them to play too. More things to spend precious time with together. 

I love to also weave in the actual gains for the kid's development in these tips. With dancing and singing, there are both physical and mental benefits. Dancing helps the children develop coordination, muscular strength and endurance. Apart from this, dancing can also lead to a higher self-esteem for the child.

When it comes to singing, there are those who argue that to sing to the child aid their ability to think in words. And when singing along, the child uses, as well as develop, both sides of the brain.

6. Go to the Playground

Where we live, the playgrounds are not used. But that’s a good thing for us since we can always go out and go for the swings or the slide. Whenever we want. We have a swing in our own garden, but we still go to the playground to make it more of a thing we do together.

Swings and slides are great, not only because they are fun for both you and your child. They also help children develop a better sense of balance. If you have playgrounds with stuff to climb on, that is also good for the children’s development. Active kids get to use their muscles and body in the way they should use them.

In a lot of playgrounds here, there’s also a sandbox. If it’s the same for you, be sure to bring a bucket and shovel and build some castles!

7. Remember to Play

It would be silly if I didn’t mention one of the most obvious ways to hang out with your children, playing. Children love to play and make things up, and it’s a very healthy thing to do.

If you play with your children you encourage them to do something that helps them in several ways. Playing helps them develop their imagination and creativity. It will also be good for their cognitive and physical strength. Kenneth R. Ginsburg, for instance, proved this in a study

Think back to your own childhood. To a time before smartphones, tablets, and all other things we use and do instead of playing. Weren’t you playing with friends all day long?

We can argue about if the new technologies are good or bad for creativity for days. But it’s beside the point of this article and I don’t put any value on either argument.

But it’s proven that playing is beneficial for children. Let’s be honest, it’s also fun to play with your kids to see what crazy things they come up with.

The writer Diane Ackerman says that “play is our brain's favorite way of learning”. There’s a lot of truth in that statement.

The Bottom Line or a Conclusion of Sorts

The point of spending time with your children isn’t so much about what you do, but that you do something together. Crazy ideas are good too. I have a friend whose mother used to throw them birthdays, several times each year.

We thought it was fun and weird when we were kids. For her, it was another way to show her appreciation. A way to have an excuse to give her children a well-deserved gift, or special meal.

At the end of the day, it’s about making memories for your kids (and you). Put their wants and needs first and you’ll be golden in most things you come up with. Even if they’re free things - or especially if they’re free.

What About You?

Do you have any favorite frugal way to spend time with your children? Please share it with the rest of us in the comments below.


About the Author

I've always had an interest in personal finances and money. Since money is so closely connected to our happiness I want to share what I've learned during the years. My mission is to make things a bit better in the financial area for people who read my post.

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