Making The Ordinary A Bit Extraordinary

Any parent knows the struggle. You want to do something fun together as a family, something everyone will enjoy. The kids are “bored” of the same old thing. The easy answer would be to just go spend a lot of money doing some kind of fun and new activity – a visit to an amusement park, an indoor play area, laser tag, or something else.

But maybe you want something a little bit…different. Perhaps you don’t want to (or can’t) just spend a lot of money to make the boredom go away. The funny thing is that if you ask your kids what they want to do (especially if they’re older) they may just want to hang around the house and watch TV/play video games/surf the internet all day long. Yes, it’s only the start of summer, but kids get bored at the speed of light. So what’s a parent to do?

Think outside the box on how you can bring a little extraordinary fun into your ordinary activities.

Frugality and intentional spending isn’t about sacrifice. It’s about using a bit of creativity to have fun, no matter what you’re doing. And one of the great ways to do that is to make some more ordinary activity into something extra special.

I’ve written some other ideas before that you can feel free to use – ideas like:

Here’s another fun idea for you – make an ordinary meal more fun at the park.

Breakfast In The Park

This time last year, I really wanted to do something fun-and different-together as a family. But I only wanted to spend $10, and for a family of five there’s not much you can do for that price. So I came up with the idea of a morning adventure in a local park.

Now a visit to the park is something that we do rather often, but we usually go to play on the playscape. This time we combined it with a breakfast:

  • Grilling: We picked a park with those little grills and brought some charcoal from home to cook our breakfast over the flames. We also have telescoping toasting forks that we use for camping, so we brought those. Cost = $0. Work with what you have!  IMG_4828
  • Breakfast Picnic: We brought our folding chairs, although you can bring a blanket as well, and bought a dozen freshly cooked bagels from a local shop. This is where the $10 came in. I had considered other local places that sell amazing muffins or fresh donuts, but I wanted the cooking to be part of the experience. You could pick up bagels from a store, or other things to cook on the grill. Cost = $10  IMG_4827
  • Park Cleanup: My oldest two sons are boy scouts, and one of their sayings is “Leave No Trace”. Now the park we went to was generally clean but there was definitely some litter around. So we had a contest to see who could fill a bag with garbage the fastest, and whoever won would get all the change in my purse. You’ve never seen kids run so fast to pick up trash (safely, of course). It ended up being a tie so they got to split the change. Cost = $0 ($2 if you count the change in my purse). Side Note,  I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Mr. Groovy, who does this kind of thing on walks. It’s a great idea for something to do that improves the environment for everyone
  • Pokewalk: My oldest kids are slightly obsessed with Pokémon Go. They don’t have their own phones so they play the game on the adults smartphones. We took what we call a “Pokewalk” around the park to not only catch new Pokémon but also to get all the pokestops around. The older boys had great fun catching several Pokémon, although no new ones (unfortunately). Cost = $0 (free app!)  IMG_8467
  • Playground: We finished off the morning on the playground, where everyone got to use the swings/slides/playscape/rope climbing contraption. Cost = $0
  • Pictures: I made sure to take plenty of pictures so we could look back on the fun memories. Cost = $0.

Adapt This For Yourself !

Now maybe you don’t have telescoping forks, or a local bagel place, or a park nearby with grills. Your kids don’t play Pokemon Go, or they’re older than mine, or younger than mine. Or you don’t have kids. What are you supposed to do?

The point of telling this story isn’t for you to necessarily copy what my family did – it’s to think more creatively about things you can do with your family that transforms the ordinary (like bagels for breakfast) into a bigger adventure.

  • Don’t have grills or bagels? Grab a blanket and cook up some muffins for breakfast, or have a picnic lunch instead.
  • Kids don’t play Pokémon Go? While breakfast is cooking have one parent watch the kids while the other hides objects you’ve brought from around the house for a scavenger hunt. Or bring some paper and paint from home and have the kids each paint a picture of the park.
  • Kids have outgrown the playground (I’m almost here myself with my oldest turning into a teenager in just a few weeks)? Have them bring something else to do while the younger ones are playing.
  • No parks around you? Head to a local school with a playground, a lake, a beach, a river, or have the picnic in your own yard.
  • Don’t have kids? See if you can find a park that lets you bring wine for a romantic lunch for two. Or if you’re headed out by yourself, bring a blanket, a nice book, some good coffee, and read outdoors for a while

You don’t need to scour the internet to find low-cost or free events near you to have a fun and frugal family outing. Instead you only need what you have around the house and a little creativity to spark a memorable morning.

I Want To Hear From You!

What do you do to transform the ordinary into something special? Any great free or inexpensive fun things you’ve done with your family? Let me know in the comments.

Want to learn more about teaching kids about money? Check out this great page with my top articles and resources I’ve found from around the web.

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14 thoughts on “Making The Ordinary A Bit Extraordinary”

  1. Wall Street Physician

    My local library is full of free activities and resources. We don’t even have to go to the same library every time; is a library in every town with their own activities.

  2. DadsDollarsDebts

    Hiking outdoors or going to other majestic public spaces is my favorite free “Adventure time”. Even though my son is 2 I always tell him we are going to “explore” and he seems to love it. One benefit of California is that there are a lot of amazing things to see for free.

    Boxes are another big hit. The amazon or costco boxes are kept for at least a week while they are drawn on, played with, etc.

  3. Emily Jividen

    We do a lot of backyard bonfires. We built a fire pit with the remains of an old chimney on our property, and we have enough deadfall that we can usually find plenty of tree branches and fallen logs for fuel. My husband makes a ceremony of the lighting of the fire, and it’s a great way to get outside unplugged.

  4. My wife and I love going to a park close to our house. They have concerts there, animals and even a farmers market. They do a couple of different things each day of the week so it always feels like a treat when we stop by. Plus some are during the day while others are at night. So its flexible for most families 🙂

  5. Cheap activities can be found no matter your age bracket. I have a lake cabin and I enjoying the free view and watching wild life as I type this out. I love to sit on the deck and read.

    1. That sounds lovely. I always like when we have wildlife in the yard. Probably not as much as at a lake, but we have rabbits, deer, groundhogs and occasionally some other visitors (like snapping turtles and coyotes).

  6. Ms. Raggedly Rich

    Love these ideas! Reading these makes me super excited for babysitting in the future : D Playgrounds were my #1 stop when I used to babysit for next door.

    Some places have splash parks too. Where I live there’s a community centre in every community with low-fee / free parks and events, like movie night for the family, $5 for everyone! It’s worth checking out the flyers in the mail.

    1. That’s an amazing bargain! We just got a splash pad at the park near our house, and my 2 year old loves it. Luckily it’s free for residents so we’ve been having a great time this summer

  7. My local library sponsors movie nights. Wegman’s grocery store does movies as well, all year round.
    I live in an area with lots of local free or inexpensive activities. For the 21+ crowd, a bunch of local wineries have music on weekends. Of course you do a tasting or buy a bottle, but you can often bring your own cheese n crackers.

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