As a single mother, when I need ideas for what to do with my kids, I am always looking for fun, free activities to keep them entertained.
The trick is finding fun pursuits that allow you to lure your child away from their pixilated universe, out of the house and into a world that exists beyond their Ipad Mini. Another bonus is if the activity is outdoors. There is nothing like lungs filled with fresh air and the wind in their hair to encourage kids have an early night.
Here are some ideas that, depending on your child’s age (and the weather) will have them swapping Netflix for the great outdoors in no time.
Camp in your own backyard
You either love it or you hate it. But to most kids, camping is the ultimate outdoor fun. You can avoid the hiked-up campsite costs by keeping it as local as your own backyard (it is also heaps easier too). If you don’t have a tent, borrow one. Get some simple food, your bedding, some torches, and you’re all set for an outdoor adventure your kids will love, but won’t cost you a cent.
As parents, a good old movie is brilliant entertainment as it allows us a whole 90 minutes of peace. Yay! Put a twist on it and create an outdoor cinema. This can be as simple as sticking the television in the garden or borrowing a projector (we got one from our school) and making a super-easy screen. Add rugs, beanbags, homemade popcorn, and you’re off and running. This a great idea when you have a number of children to look after.
Take a hike
Suggesting a hike to a child is as riveting as reminding them to finish their maths homework. But there are ways to make it more appealing, and they can be great for learning too. Firstly, drop the word ‘hike’ and invite them on a nature trail, a mountain adventure or a treasure hunt. And make sure they have something to distract them from the monotony of simply walking by organising some simple nature-based games to play on way. Free, learning-based fun in the outdoors! Give yourself a pat on the back for that one mama!
Young kids love to get wrist deep in mud, so gardening is a great way for you to get some outdoorsy work done, while they throw mud around. Give them an area to work with and set them a task such as pulling out weeds or removing pebbles. My 13 yo loves to rake the garden, which is especially fun in Autumn and usually results in the garden being messier than at the start. But so what? Playing in leaves is a sublimely simple childhood pleasure that should not be denied to anyone.
Walk the dog (even if you don’t have one)
Walking the dog is the best excuse for an outdoor activity, not only that it can be used day after day after day. Of course, without an actual dog, this can be hard. Never fear, there is always a solution. Can you walk a neighbours dog? There must be corporate couple nearby who would love a local dog walker. It’s a great way for your child to enjoy a pet if you don’t own one AND they could even charge a small fee, so will be making money in the process.
The world is your canvas
Let your creativity go wild with some outside artwork. All you need is some chalk and a concrete area, such as a driveway or pavement, and you’re off. There’s something extremely liberating about chalking the ground, and we personally, have had hours of fun with it. Play games like hangman or guess the picture. Before you know it your driveway will be the most colourful in the street and the envy of your neighbours, until it rains that is.
This final suggestion is particular good if you’re having trouble easing your offspring off their iPhones. There are some incredible apps available for making collages and video’s that even a 3yo can operate. Challenge your child to create a memory of your day out by taking photos they can play with later. Photography will make them look at the world around them differently and take an interest in things they would usually pass by without a thought.
Article written by Lucy Good from Beanstalk Single Mums.
Beanstalk is an online space which empowers single mothers to re-find their potential and re-build their confidence through a website that delivers targeted information and support.
Lucy works with hundreds of single mothers through the offering of her online course and her Facebook group. She is a blogger, podcaster and mentor. She also speaks regularly on a local radio station, writes articles for the online parenting community and continually hunts down resources of benefit to the single motherhood.