The past few years, my New Year’s Eve tradition has included my daughter and niece and I hanging out, dancing, cooking, movie watching until the Space Needle fireworks on TV. In that spirit, I thought I would list 7 fun things I have learned to do with children over my past decade of limited funds:
1) Family Soup. This started one year when we decided to make a monster pot of soup with all the veggie matter we brought home from the food bank. My daughter wrote down all the ingredients and titled it Family Soup. This can include anything you happen to have on hand, but is best to begin with a base of finely chopped garlic, onion, carrots and celery (“mirapois” for the gourmet) sauteed in olive oil. I believe in our first Family Soup we had sweet potato, kale, canned kidney beans, canned tomatoes, and we added herbs and spices until we were happy with it. The most important ingredient of Family Soup is every family member helps out with the labor together. This New Year’s we made up a Family Soup of Yukon potato, onion, green pepper, tiny can of coconut milk, carrots, celery, garlic, tarragon, curry powder, paprika. A delish way to start off the new year.
2) Exercise around a high school or other track. In lieu of an exercise class or gym membership, a community track is a great place to exercise for free with kids. They can bring a scooter/bike or sit in bleachers and write/read/play if they don’t want to move.
3) Make up yoga poses. Affording a yoga class is something I have wanted to but been unable to do in years, so I found if you enlist your child/ren in making up their own animal yoga poses, you can get some good stretching in together.
4) Crafting. Take drawing paper and crayons/markers/paints, and separate family members into different spaces where they cannot be seen by one another. Set a timer to 10 minutes and draw anything. Come back together to share drawings. Family members often can have an intuitive connection, and my daughter and I are often stunned by how similar our color and topic choices are for drawings even when we are in separate rooms with no pre-identified subject. For younger kids, it may be helpful to choose a topic to draw beforehand. You can also craft any number of things as a group where you each create a part of a whole and then connect them to hang on a wall or use as a blanket (paper, cloth, knitting, quilting).
5) Library trips. Visiting the library together can be fun, even if you mostly just look at books. The children’s section continues to be my favorite part of any library. If you have a child like mine who often reads 5 books simultaneously, you may need to set a limit on checkout or look online with them to get ideas of what they would like to order from the local library.
6) Make music and look for free community music events. We rent a piano and are hoping eventually to buy one, but we make music together and act as each other’s audience/critic.
7) Plant vegetables together. This is something I have never been able to convince my daughter to help me with beyond dropping the actual seed in the ground. But if you have one of those children who are more earth-inclined, you can all devote some weekly time to weeding, preparing soil, planning and planting a garden. Then you get to all enjoy the harvest knowing you helped nurture your food together!