As parents, we work hard to help our children feel good about themselves and explore their talents, interests, and the world around them. Here are some great ways to enjoy our families and support our children—without going broke.
There is a multitude of ways to celebrate your times together as a family without spending a dime! With your baby, try infant massage, singing songs, reading books, or touching and learning about different textures.
Toddlers love exploration and adventure in play. Stimulate their imaginations by building forts from chairs and blankets or playing made-up games like going on a "color safari" where you and your child hunt around the house for objects of a certain color. The family can take a picnic lunch to the park or go on a nature hike right in your neighborhood, finding and naming plants, trees, shrubs, and even weeds! Don't forget, a small child can be fascinated with simple activities like helping you pull dandelions (or blowing the dandelion seeds around the yard), making bracelets of wildflowers, or searching for four-leaf clovers. It's all new to them.
Family board games, impromptu art sessions, or interactive games like charades are all excellent ways for families with older children to spend time together. After dinner is over, lingering at the table and telling stories can be fun too. Share memories such as how Mom and Dad first met, funny things Mom and Dad did when they were younger or your child did as a baby, or where Grandma and Grandpa were born and how the family ended up in their current town. Learning about the past is never more fascinating than when it is personal history.
As I was growing up, we occasionally played "Coffee Pot" around the dinner table as everyone had dessert and coffee. Someone was designated "it" and formulated a shared family memory in his or her head (such as a birthday party, vacation, or trip to the zoo). That person then chanted "Coffee Pot, Coffee Pot, Where Am I?" The rest of the family asked yes or no questions in turn until we guessed the memory; the correct guesser became "it." What a nice way to remember the good times!