photo by egarc2
Guest Post by Katie from Cincinnati Cents
As parents, there is a fine line between over-indulging our children and ensuring that we spend a reasonable amount of quality family time together. It seems as though schedules become incredibly hectic with the pace of today’s world, between school, work, soccer games, piano lessons, church commitments, scout meetings, social organizations…the list could go on and on.
It is essential for families to carve out time that is separate from the hubbub of the daily routine, in order to connect (or reconnect) as a family unit. Without this time spent together, the core that binds each family together becomes fractionalized, and suddenly the members become disconnected from each other, making family unity and harmony a challenge to be overcome.
While it is easy to agree that family time is essential, it is not always so simple to find activities and events that are family-friendly (oftentimes for a multitude of ages) as well as financially feasible. It is certainly not difficult to concoct grand plans for trips to amusement parks, the beach, or a local fun zone.
However, if these ventures are beyond your budgetary means, the additional stress they cause defeat the purpose of the unity-building experience. In this weekly series, I will be focusing on simple, frugal ways to celebrate your family, thereby spending quality time together (while maintaining your sanity as well!).
As Summer has quickly slipped away, and Fall is gently unfolding, it is an ideal time to enjoy the beauty of the season with a leisurely walk as a family in the coolness of the evening. I’ve found, it is easy to engage all participating “walkers” if you add a game into the experience.
Give each child a scavenger hunt list (younger children could be paired with older siblings or parents) of various items to locate while you are enjoying the outdoors. This turns the walk into more than just exercise and family time–it becomes a nature hunt, and children will be amazed with the autumn treasures they might find. Acorns, red and orange leaves, and squirrels scurrying to procure their winter store all make fascinating finds for young children. They are often amazed by what they can find if they truly look at their surroundings.
Bingo is another easy take-along game for an evening hike. Parents can make simple bingo boards prior to the family outing, utilizing cardboard or heavy cardstock and clear contact paper. A simple 9 or 12-box grid would be ideal for younger children, whereas a larger grid (15 to 25 squares) would be more challenging for older children. Items that could be searched for would either be written in the squares, or pictures could be drawn for non-readers.
Once the boards are completed, a simple covering of clear contact paper will protect them from the elements on the journey. Each child would then be supplied with a dry erase marker and either a paper towel or a wet wipe. Whoever finds the needed objects and yells “bingo” first would win the game. The boards could then be wiped clean, and a new game could begin.
Of course, a game is not necessary for a family outing. It is oftentimes enough for families–especially those with very small children–to simply enjoy each others’ presence during the course of a long, leisurely walk. Young ones are so excited to witness nature’s beauty in its simplest form–a butterfly spreading its wings, a puppy barking from across the street, one last lazy flower poking its head out of the ground.
Regardless of the activity you choose, remember that life passes to quickly. Take time to smell those proverbial roses. Next Fall will be here in a blink of an eye, and you’ll want to look back and remember all the amazing memories you’ve created as a family over the course of the year.
Katie is a homeschooling mother of four. She blogs at Cincinnati Cents, where she shares money-saving ideas, deals, and frugal activities to enjoy as a family.
From Crystal: What are some of your favorite games to play or things to do while you’re out on a family walk?