Whether it’s during spring break, Christmas Break or during the Coronavirus pandemic, keeping your kids busy can be a full time job! After a few years of the stepmom role I’ve found sometimes it’s just getting back to basics with your kids. I have several activities to keep your kids busy and get them away from electronics.
These activities are all budget friendly and most can be done at home! Sometimes it’s the simplest things we take for granted that can really impress your child!
How to keep your kids busy without technology
Let’s face it, we all get a little too much screen time! It is easy for me to say that I’m on my phone or laptop because of work, but to my little one it’s all the same. In order to fix the problem we must lead by example. I set times for us to do things together so we are both away from laptops, phones or tablets. I always have many options of activities in mind because kids change their minds daily. What was fun and cool yesterday may be boring today. We can usually agree on crafts or baking projects to keep us busy. I have a list of different ideas for their short attention span!
What are fun and inexpensive activities to do with kids?
Start a garden
Even if you have limited space that’s not a problem for starting a mini garden. The first time Mia and I did a planting project it was on the balcony of our apartment before we bought our house. I bought a small pot, garden soil and herbs.
She helped me plant our little herbs and write the names of each one on popsicle sticks to help her identify each one. I also taught her what the different herbs are used for and when I made an Italian dish we picked a few leaves to add to the sauce.
Now that we have our house I built a small bed and we have added tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and peppers. We go out every morning to check our vegetables and water them. She gets very excited to see them grow, begin to flower and produce the vegetables! I love this project because it shows her the process of growing and taking care of something. Plus she sees that food doesn’t just come in a package from the grocery store!
Teach baking or cooking
This a great activity for kids. They are learning a useful skill and don’t even realize it! Mia can read recipes, measure ingredients and has learned basic cooking techniques.
Even if your own skills aren’t the best you’d be surprised out how very simple things can impress a kid. For example, Mia loves sweet tea and always gets it at restaurants. I decided to teach her how we can make our own at home by simply boiling water and using tea bags! She loves it and we even decided to use a little mint from our garden to infuse in our tea! This may not seem like a ground breaking recipe but it taught her that for a few dollars she can make her own tea instead of always buying the bottles from the store. We can also experiment with different flavorings too!
Movie night with popcorn
I know I said I like to limit electronics but occasionally we like to have a movie night. It’s fun for all of us because we introduced Mia to a few 80’s classics that my husband and I grew up with! We love reliving these movies with her. I do believe my 9 year old might have a little crush on Indiana Jones and I’m not ashamed to admit I may as well!
Movie night is fun and something the three of us can do together! We make popcorn together on the stove top and all curl up on the couch together.
A few years ago I decided to mix up my workouts by doing a few home exercise routines. I bought myself weights and Mia a little 2 pound set. She loves working out with me. Even though she never quite finishes a workout she understands the importance of staying active. If you need a workout you can do from home check out my alternative workout to the gym.
Go for walks around neighborhood
Luckily we live in a neighborhood in Florida that has beautiful old oak trees. These trees are home to a variety of many birds and insects. Just by taking a walk around our house we see woodpeckers, butterflies and even bats at night! Even though Mia isn’t a big fan of bugs we really enjoy our little nature walks.
Learn to knit or sew
Sewing has never been my thing but I love to knit. I have probably made everyone in my family a scarf or hat! Starting a knitting project can keep you busy for days. Start with a simple scarf pattern just to teach the basics.
Make Homemade Gifts
It never fails that in the middle of December I get these ideas to make homemade ornaments and cards for Christmas presents, but there’s never enough time to actually get it done! Starting this during the summer is a perfect project. Mia and I have made ornaments with crayon shavings.
Sometimes this is tough because kids think they don’t need to read during breaks. However my husband strongly believes this is an essential activity. We try to make it fun by taking Mia to pick out her own books. She even decided to ask her teacher if she could select the topic for her book report assignment after reading about Leonardo Davinci.
If you have very young kids read to them. This is a great activity to help them learn. They will begin to memorize and follow the story with you!
Play Board Games
Mia and my husband have a Monopoly competition going on in our house. Her dad taught her how to play at 6 and never let her win but explained how to strategize by buying properties. He told her that when she beat him fair and square he’d give her extra allowance money. She finally had her first victory at 8 and was beaming that she beat her daddy at such a grown up game!
There are so many great games that you can play! We also like Uno and Connect 4. I think Robbie is going to teach Mia chess soon too!
Play in Sprinkler
During those long hot Florida summer days when we may not have time for the beach or the pool playing in the sprinkler can be lots of fun! Mia usually loves to do this while her dad is washing cars. It’s fun for her to run around the yard and spend a little time outside with her dad.
Mia is very creative and usually comes up with her own unique ideas. She likes to make her own picture books with characters that move as you flip through each page. I bought her books a few years ago that helped her learn to draw with step by step instructions. I really think it helped her master her basic shapes, but regardless this kid has got talent!
I found different tutorials online for making your own origami. We followed the steps to make butterflies. It was a great way for her to read and learn to follow the steps.
Make Towel Animals
Last year we went on our first family cruise and Mia loved the towel animals that the staff left in our room everyday. She was so impressed she wanted to take the towel animal class while we were on the ship. At the end she wanted the book that they sell which turned out to be a great souvenir for her. She has used that book so many times to make her own towel animals! It was well worth the money and keeps her creative juices going!
Make Paper Airplanes and Helicopters
My husband has found different instructions for making airplanes and helicopters with just paper and paper clips. We have contests to see who’s goes the farthest or twirls the best!
Have a Girly Day
Occasionally I’ll get my pedicure kit out with all of my polish and Mia and I will have our own spa day. She likes to pick out different colors and have me paint her toes. She is definitely getting into lotion and perfumes. I like introducing her to different things and teaching her about self care.
Building tents, forts or castles is something we do all the time. Mia loves getting every pillow and blanket in the house to make her structure very comfy and cozy!
We haven’t worked on traditional puzzles but Mia likes the 3-D style. There are so many different things you can work on building together. This is a great activity for a rainy or cold day.
My husband can type very well at about 120 words a minute. He amazed Mia at his skill and immediately wanted to learn how! Although her little hands are small for the keyboard we thought just getting the basics down would be a great idea. We found a free class that she has been practicing with.
When the weather is great head to your favorite park with a picnic! It’s fun and a great way to get outside and enjoy some fresh air.
We have even ordered a pizza to pick up and take to the park. We stretch out a big blanket next to the water and watch for fish to jump.
This is something that I loved to do as a kid! Even if all you do is camp in your own back yard! It’s fun to set up outside and tell stories and do something away from the distractions of electronics. During Christmas break last year Mia had a tent in her room that we built that she would sleep in every night.
Helping Clean House
Now it may not be something that your older kids want to do but younger kids love to help clean! If I give Mia a dust cloth she’ll help polish all the furniture while I’m doing the bigger projects.
This is a fun activity that you can do in your own house. Just come up with a list of things your child has to find. If you need ideas do a google search to quickly find different scavenger hunt lists.
Go to Park
We are extremely fortunate to have one of the most beautiful parks just 2 miles from our house! My husband take Mia there often so that she can play on the play ground or take her bicycle or scooter for a ride!
Trip to Library
My husband took Mia to the Public Library in our town so that she could pick out books and get her very own library card. There are also so many great free classes at the library that offer activities to keep your kids busy while learning!
We have recently taught Mia how to ride a bike. It was a bit of a challenge at first but once she got the hang of it we can’t get her off her bike! She loves riding through our neighborhood while we run with her. This is a great new hobby that we can all enjoy and benefit from the exercise. While a bike may be a little investment up front it can give years of use and enjoyment!
I hope these ideas help you find creative activities to keep your kids busy. I think as parents sometimes its easy to overthink it or feel the need to spend lots of money when it isn’t necessary! Look around the house and find something that can be a new fun game or project!