I work full time Monday through Friday, so “family time” only happens on weekends, unless you count family time as eating dinner with one hand while bathing a baby and toddler with the other, in which case, I get about 2 hours per weeknight of family time. And yet, by about noon on Saturday, I’m fresh out of ways to entertain my kids. This is particularly annoying when, like mine, the kids are too young to entertain themselves for any significant amount of time. You can only go to the local park or play with the hardened play doh set so many times. In a desperate attempt not to lose my mind or fake a work emergency to hide out in the office on a Sunday morning, I’ve compiled a list of ways to entertain children when you’re not creative, don’t have Disneyland season passes, and can’t bring yourself to let them watch another hour of YouTube Kids.
Hit the Driving Range.
While ours is “free” (read: included in the insane cost of membership) because my husband is a member at our local country club, there are many public courses out there, and a bucket of 50 or so balls typically runs in the $10-$15 range. It’s truly amazing how long my kids will knock around some balls. Don’t want to spend on the bucket of balls? Hit the putting green for free. Don’t have kid-sized golf clubs? Don’t break the bank on the real ones. Plastic clubs will do just fine for this outing.
What better way to cure boredom than actually doing something productive for society? Put those little rugrats to work by volunteering. Check out some ideas that are good for even your littlest do-gooders here.
Go Park Hopping.
Be warned: this is far less entertaining than a Saturday spent bar hopping, but that kind of outing with kids will likely land you in jail, or at least under investigation, so stick to the PG version. Make a game of trying to explore new parks all over town. See if you can find the tallest, scariest slide or a zip line. Meet up with friends at their local park. Even if you go on your own, it’s nice to meet new people and scope out different neighborhoods.
Visit a Fire Station.
I don’t know what it is about those big, red trucks, but kids are obsessed with them. Mine can be found screaming with joy pointing them out whenever we see them while driving. So imagine their enthusiasm when they could see and touch one up close. Our local fire department has an online system for submitting requests for visits, but that is geared toward groups. I asked a firefighter friend of mine and he told me to come on over whenever he was working. Don’t have an insider who can show you around? Plan ahead through their system or call ahead the day of to see if you can swing by. Chances are, if they’re not out on a call and it’s only you and a couple of kids, they’d be more than happy to show you around. Bring baked goods or fresh fruit as a thank you.
Maybe it’s just me, but the hour or two before nap time and the couple of hours between nap and dinner are always the hardest for me to fill the time and the easiest to plop my toddler in front of the television. (Did I just basically cover the whole day with those time slots?) Grab some snacks and a blanket, and find a shady spot at your local park, lake, or beach. It’s nice to wear them out before nap or before dinner, and it really doesn’t require much planning–just grab whatever is in the pantry. I keep a plastic bin of sand/water toys in the garage that is easy to toss into the trunk on my way out to ensure I can keep the kids occupied. It’s also great to get them out of the house and make a mess somewhere other than my living room for a change.
Of course, even these ideas will run out of useful life. In that case, crack open a cold brew, turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and pray for the day they can entertain themselves. What are your failsafe weekend activity ideas?