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5 Fun and Low-budget Playtime Ideas

What are some free ways to keep kids busy

Keeping yourself and your children entertained these days is markedly difficult. Luckily, there are plenty of everyday items lying around the house that can be used for some impromptu and low-budget playtime. These life hacks will keep your kids happy, and you'll probably find their giggles infectious. Now isn't the time for everyone to lay around and vegetate on their phones. Seriously, smartphones can be harmful to kids, so this is the perfect time for family bonding! Here are 5 low budget and fun life hacks that can help you get things kick-started.

Faux Dough

Let's be honest, Play-Doh doesn't come cheap. Luckily our top scientists have reverse engineered the not-so-secret recipe for this childhood favorite. The best part of all is that you can create it in any color you please. Combine all of the colors together to engineer a brown dough that can be used to pull all kinds of pranks on your loved ones... Well, it's really just one prank. You pretend somebody pooped on the floor, but it's way more fun than it sounds. Promise.

Anyways, the recipe is as follows. One part salt to two parts flour in one bowl. The other bowl will be filled with an amount of water that is equivalent to the amount of salt you used. Add a tablespoon of oil so it doesn't get too sticky, and your choice of food coloring(s). Mix the ingredients well, and you've just save a bundle on Play-Doh. You can create a sculpture and let it dry without thinking about any 'wasted' money.

Fun and Low-budget Playtime Ideas kid playing crayons

Cardboard Slide

Having stairs in your house can be a double-edged sword. On one hand carrying laundry upstairs is the bane of my existence, but on the other hand? My glutes and thighs have never looked better! Stairs can be dangerous for kids, so keep an eye on them at all times while they're traversing. However the stairs can be turned from a household danger into an amazing ally with the use of a few cardboard boxes!

One of my children's favorite activities is pulling out our old refrigerator box and placing it on the stairs to create an impromptu slide. It used to be a bit scary to watch them zip down the stairs and into the foyer, but we added some pool noodles to the sides of the stairwell and place pillows at the bottom. It doesn't look amazing, but it's my house and I'd much rather have great memories with my kids than a pristine stairwell.

Pillow Fort

There is nothing better than starting to stack pillows and hearing my kids squeal with delight because they know what it means. We've spent entire days inside of our pillow fort, adding all the accoutrements to ensure that we'd never need to leave again. Snacks, a fan, plenty of blocks and toys, and of course the Nintendo Switch. If I didn't have work to do, I can imagine myself never leaving that fluffy castle.

If you require more pillows to create a truly amazing pillow fortress, they can be bought for an extremely low price. We actually have a large number of cheap, low-quality pillows that we keep easily accessible so that we don't need to strip every bed in the house when its time for pillow forts. It helps keep the house a bit more clean and keeps us from sullying what my spouse calls 'the good pillows'.

Fun and Low-budget Playtime Ideas basic kid pillow fort

Water Balloons

Everyone knows the magic of water balloons, but it's not much fun to be a parent when your responsibility is to just fill the balloons and you miss out on the ensuing water war. Older kids that haven't mastered the faucet can still help fill them up by adding some water to an empty pump bottle of lotion or soap. Even if they don't actually manage to create any balloons, it's more fun than having them sit and wait.

My son actually began to realize the value of the hard work that goes into creating a bucket of water balloons and actually started crying when his older sister began throwing them around the yard. That might just be the irrationality of a toddler, but my spouse and I both thought that it was really adorable. It'll be one of those stories we tell to embarrass him for many decades to come.

Tape Is Great!

Some creative thinking can turn a simple roll of tape into your greatest playtime ally. This is my favorite life hack for budget playtime because it's just so flexible. Instead of buying an expensive racetrack set, help your child create a track of their own with a bit of masking tape on the floor. With a little bit of imagination that track will be bigger and better than anything that you can buy at the store.

My toddler loves to help sweep so we've taken to taping a small square onto the kitchen floor. Then we throw a few beads, rice, or beans on the floor and watch as he tries to master his hand-eye coordination with that broom. You'd be amazed how long this game can go on for. Kids are some of the most determined people on the planet when they set their minds to something.

Fun and Low-budget Playtime Ideas kid popping water balloon

Final Thoughts

When running around with water balloons and tape race-tracks you'll want to make sure your child's shoes stay securely in place. One of the best ways to do that is to pick up a set of reflective kids shoe laces! Alternatively, the curly no-tie shoelaces are ideal for a lazy day lounging about at home... Which we all seem to be doing a lot of lately. Stinky feet can disrupt the relaxation as well so check out our blog on what actually makes kid's feet stink to nip that issue in the bud.

Having fun with your kids at home is a great bonding experience, and when you can do it on the cheap? Well, that's a match made in heaven. Sure, we have the trips to theme parks and special places but my kiddos seem to enjoy these low-budget playtime ideas just as much as a trip to the most expensive theme park. Kids are kind of funny that way. Try it out for yourself and see what sticks!


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