Quality over Quantity
After another busy day, I glance at the clock. Yikes!!! 5:00, already?! Where did the day go???
Truth be told. I love being a stay-at-home-mom. But one thing I’m learning is that if I’m not deliberate and intentional with our time, it seems to slip away. Hours…days…then weeks. Like grains of sand slipping through an hourglass… I know, I know. Terrifying, right?!
Sure, we have LOTS of time together. But the memories are made with what we decide to actually do with the time that we have.
I recently pinned my bingo board printable with this list to our refrigerator. The results have been more positive than I imagined they would be! The biggest change is with me. I wake up excited. Mentally prepped and ready to have some fun with my kids. The best part?! Most of them are free, or very low cost, so it’s easy to stay on budget. I’ve actually been able to pay for most of our excursions with the money I receive back from my Rakuten cash back each month. If you aren’t yet familiar with Rakuten (formerly Ebates), be sure to check it out in my post about how to GET $100 BACK IN YOUR POCKET THIS MONTH, EFFORTLESSLY. Or, just click here to get $10 back instantly after your first purchase.
The nifty 50
- Finger paint. This is a fun activity to do with kids of all ages! Strip little ones down to the diaper, set up camp in the backyard, kitchen or garage, and have some fun! The awesome thing about finger painting is that older kids love it too! Emerson, my 5-year-old, and Luke, my 1-year-old, have equally as much fun when we break out the finger paints. Crayola’s Super Art Tub has everything you need for coloring fun, including the perfect storage container! We love this one at our house because we can throw it in the car and take it with us on family trips.
- Color a Picture From the youngest ages all the way up to motherhood, everyone loves to color! I’ve found that it is therapeutic for both me and my children to color together. Our family loves this Super Art Kit from Crayola, which has everything you need for coloring fun, including a great container to store everything in! It’s great for travel too. Photocopy the coloring sheets that come with it for extra fun.
- Go to the park. Sometimes the simplest joys truly are the best. Slides, swings and teeter-totters. It is so much fun to indulge your inner child while you play with your own.
- Paint rocks. Rock painting has become REALLY popular in Virginia Beach. So much so, that there are actual Facebook groups dedicated to it! On a recent playdate, Emerson’s friend brought over supplies to paint rocks. And it kept the kids entertained for an hour! No small feat for five-year-olds! When the rocks dried, we finished the play date at a local park, where the kids hid the rocks for other children to find. Emerson talks about how much fun she had EVERY time we pass that park. There are so many great kits that are moderately priced on Amazon. I’m partial to the ones with built-in storage, like this Crayola kit. Although, this kit by Creativity Kids has a TON of great reviews and an awesome price point!
- Bake something tasty. Children LOVE getting to indulge their inner creative side by helping mom bake a tasty treat. Rice Krispie treats are easy and fun, as are chocolate chip cookies or personal pizzas made with English muffins. If you find that your little one REALLY loves to cook, they may really appreciate a Kidstir box subscription or a cookbook just for them! The Disney Princess Cookbook is adorable, and the Kid’s Chef Junior cookbook is great for kids ages 4+, and is FREE with Kindle Music Unlimited!
- Read your favorite books. Whether choosing from your childhood favorites or re-reading your child’s go-to books, this is a simple, fun way to spend a rainy afternoon.
- Make-believe play (house, dinosaurs, Barbie). This one took some time for me to embrace. As adults, we become so sensible all the time. Playing make-believe may not seem nearly as magical to you as it does to your child—at first. But allow yourself to really get into it. You’ll be amazed at how much fun it is, and how much you learn about your sweet child, by doing so.
- Go for a walk. Seeing the world through your child’s eyes is an amazing thing. Just take a walk with them and see the trees, the grass, and animals the way your child does! Depending on the time of year, you can focus on looking for pretty leaves that have fallen to the ground or looking for the prettiest flowers.
- Ride bikes. Whether this is something you can do around your neighborhood or something you can visit a local park for, riding bikes is just fun.
- Play in the rain. Run into the street and stomp in those rain puddles with no abandon. Watch the joy on your child’s face as they get lost in this moment with you.
- Have a dance party. We love us some KidzBop and Disney music in our house! Crank up the tunes through your phone, or through an awesome mini speaker in your house, and dance your hearts out. We find this is the PERFECT thing to do around 4:00 in the afternoon when everyone is feeling a little bit stir crazy, and I’m about to make dinner. Heck, sometimes we have the dance party in the kitchen WHILE I’m cooking dinners. And those are honestly the best ones. Amazon Unlimited is amazing, and is running a 30-day free trial offer now!
- Do a video interview with your child. This can be done on your phone or a video camera. Kids change SO much from one day to the next, and sometimes the only way to see how much they’ve changed over a period of time is through hindsight.
- Do a scavenger hunt. One rainy day, Emerson and I ended up at the library. As it turned out, they had a scavenger hunt for the kids to do there! We had SO much fun. There are a TON of great scavenger hunt ideas on Google. All you need to do is a simple search!
- Go to the library. Speaking of the library, when was the last time you went there just for some fun with your kiddos? Libraries offer so much more than they used to…scavenger hunts—for one! Also, plenty of books to enjoy and sometimes even a fun play area as well!
- Go to a splash pad. This is definitely a summer-time event! I love the fact that kids can have fun in the water without having to know how to swim. Just like running through a sprinkler in your backyard, but way cooler!
- Go to the pool. Our local YMCA has a beautiful indoor pool, making this the perfect destination in the heat of summer—or the bitter cold of winter! Kids LOVE to swim—and just like coloring, it is great therapy for grown-ups and kids alike!
- Play in the snow. Another seasonal favorite, this is a must-do at least once a year. In the South, we get 1-2 snowstorms a year—which is perfect for us! Make snow angels and a snowman. Then make your way inside for hot cocoa with extra whipped cream or marshmallows!
- Make slime. So, this one is definitely more for the kids—but they have so much fun making it, I couldn’t leave this off the list. You can check out a tutorial I’ve found on Youtube by clicking here.
- Paint her nails. Nothing says “love” to a little girl like taking the time to pamper her and paint her nails. I’m so happy that, in this day-in-age, there are health-conscious, non-toxic formulas available that are safe for use on kids. My favorites are Ella + Mila and Piggy Paint. The colors are fantastic, and they stay on great!
- Play a board game. These are great options for children that are 3+! Candy Land, Connect Four, Chutes and Ladders are a few of our family favorites.
- Sing or do karaoke. I love just finding sing-alongs on YouTube or even just cranking up KidzBop or Disney songs! I love that I can dial up exactly what I want to listen to on Amazon Music Unlimited at any time! And what kid doesn’t love singing into a microphone?! I love the one we ordered from Amazon.
- Draw with sidewalk chalk. Just like coloring in a book, this is such a fun and therapeutic thing to do on a nice warm day!
- Have a picnic. A gorgeous Spring or Fall day is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy a light meal with your littles! I wrote a post on how to create an awesome car picnic when you’re on the road. Many of the same ideas apply to a conventional picnic.
- Go to the zoo. Going on a weekday is a great way to cut down on the crowds! And morning time-frame is perfect for keeping cooler and maintaining a consistent naptime if your kids are still taking naps. Plan a great car picnic for the way home!
- See a live music show. Whether it’s an age-appropriate concert or symphony in the park, nothing sets the soul on fire quite the way that live music does.
- Go to a farm stand. I remember some incredible corn stands in the midwest in the summer—and here in the South, we have a lot of amazing farms around that grow all kinds of fresh produce. Take your kids and let them pick out their own fruits and veggies—and let them help you prepare it for dinner that night.
- Go to a farm to pick your own fruit & veggies. Strawberries and blueberries in the spring and apples in the Fall is what we pick here in Virginia. Whatever your region grows seasonally, be sure to take advantage and pick some for yourself. You’ll create great memories, get some fresh air and exercise, and provide yourselves healthy and delicious snacks. Most importantly, you’re helping your kids understand the beauty and importance of REAL food, picked straight from the Earth! (Now that you have all those tasty berries, here are 20 delicious blueberry recipes to help you use them up!)
- Plant flowers or start a garden. There’s been a little bit of a theme throughout the last three items—but it’s because it is truly important! Whether it’s a single tomato or pepper plant grown in a pot on your porch or balcony or a full-blown garden—you and your children will cherish the memories of growing your own fruits and veggies for years to come. I still remember picking radishes and cucumbers in our backyard with my Dad when I was just 4-years-old!
- Go to a carnival or fair. Cotton candy, elephant ears, and the Ferris wheel. The bright lights and giant stuffed animals! So very fun.
- Volunteer somewhere together. What you’re able to do will definitely depend on the age of your kids here. See if there’s something you can get involved in at your church or local community center to instill the feeling of giving into your child. There is no better feeling than offering up your services to help better the life of someone in need. Doing it alongside your child is sure to help deepen your bond.
- Play catch or kickball. Playing catch is fun to do with toddlers, and playing with older children also offers up a valuable opportunity for conversation.
- Watch the sunrise or set. I took Emerson to see the sunrise at the beach the day before Daylight Savings Time ended. It was nice because it was early, but not crazy early. Watching the sunrise is such a valuable reminder of how magnificent God is—and that each new day is such a gift—so spend it wisely. Watching the sunrise with Emerson was one of the most beautiful and special things we have done together.
- Cuddle in and watch a movie together. All you need here is your favorite movie, a rainy or snowy day—some good snacks and great company. Some of the simplest and best times with your kids happen right in the comfort of your own home.
- Go to a matinee movie. There is something so cozy and fun about seeing a matinee show in the middle of the day! At Christmas time, the Regal Cinemas by us shows classic Christmas movies on the big screen for only $5 a ticket! Such a fun and inexpensive afternoon for our whole family.
- Stargaze. Nothing can make you feel quite as small (in a good way!) as getting lost in the universe above you during a night of star-gazing. So, go ahead and grab a cozy blanket to lay across your lawn or driveway, and get lost in the universe together!
- Go to a play cafe. Play cafes offer a tremendous opportunity to bond with your small child! When Luke and I just need to get out of the house while Emerson is at school, and temperatures are too extreme for the park—we head to Hooray!— our favorite local play cafe! There are so many fun new things for him to explore and play with—and we get to discover so much together. When I’m there with him, I am all-present, and not having to worry about anything else. Plus, they have the best coffee in Virginia Beach.
- Plan a special outing to take pictures just of them! Dress them up in a cute outfit, do their hair, and take them to a picturesque area of town. Break-out the DSLR if you have one. And, if you don’t? Well, smartphone cameras are doing some amazing things these days as well!
- Fly a kite. This Best Delta kite is perfect for novice kite-flyers—to keep your outing fun and your kite in-tact.
- Do a craft together. There are millions of great craft ideas on Pinterest. But the main way that we enjoy crafts is with a subscription to Kiwi Co. Each month, we receive a box with three super fun crafts for Emerson and me to do together. Click here to check Kiwi Crate out for yourself, and get 30% off your first month’s order.
- Go to a children’s museum. Similar to a play cafe, but with more of an educational element, children’s museums have so much to offer you and your kids for a fun-filled day! Be sure to check out if your local museum has a discount day. Our local museum has $5 admission on Wednesday afternoons.
- Go to an aquarium. If you have one local to you in your area, this is a must-do! From seeing sharks and sea lions to petting stingrays and hermit crabs and seeing seasonal exhibits, you and your littles will get a lot out of it!
- Go to a water park. Similar to the splash pad or pool—a day of fun in the sun at a local water park is a great way to bond and make memories with your kids!
- Play hopscotch. Grab that sidewalk chalk and create a hopscotch board on your driveway!
- Go to a petting zoo. Because feeding farm animals is fun! Take joy in hearing the little giggles from your children as baby goats or pigs gently nibble food out of their little hands.
- Make dandelion bouquets. Is there anything sweeter than a beautiful dandelion bouquet picked specially from you, out of pure love, from your littles? Place the yellow flowers in a bud vase. Make wishes on the white ones.
- Blow bubbles. Blowing bubbles has a calming effect, and can be so much fun. The key to it is to get good quality bubbles that are actually FUN to play with! My favorite brand is the Gazillion Bubbles.
- Run through the sprinkler. A normal sprinkler will do just fine! It’s what we always used to run through as kids. But if you’re looking for something with a little more wow-factor, check out this Little Tykes Beach Ball Sprinkler.
- Play “I spy” or “Simon says”. I was SO happy when I discovered that this game was something that both my 5-year-old AND 1-year-old loved equally as much!
- Paint pottery. Go to a local shop and paint a piggy bank or picture frame! Bonus points for getting their handprint placed on whatever you make.
- Go to the circus! Elephants and trapeze artists. Enough said.