I love spending time with my kids – especially away from cell phones, and electronic gizmos. When my wife and I have taken our children camping, I’ve always been amazed at how they miraculously find something to do.
No boredom there!
On my way to work last week, I heard Bill O’Reilly lamenting the high cost of a father taking his son to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. The $150 seats, $6 hot dogs, $5 soft drinks, and $20 to park were getting to him!
I started thinking, “Why spend so much when there are many other things to do for much less?” You don’t have to bust the budget to have some great times with your kids.
So don’t go to a Yankee’s game, go to a minor league game instead! Tickets are usually less than $10 each and, though the concessions aren’t cheap, they aren’t as high as they are in a major league park either. Go to a local college baseball game, or a high school football game. Go to a gymnastics meet, or a volleyball game. There are tons of other choices than a big league game and your kids just want to be with you.
Granted, the bike may be expensive if you purchase new, but you don’t have to buy anything new or high tech. Check out Play It Again Sports or a local pawn shop and learn to negotiate! You’ve already paid for bike paths through your taxes.
Fathers usually love to grill (sorry for the stereotype!) so teach your son or daughter your tricks, your marinades, and your secrets for getting that hamburger just right.
Yard-work or Gardening
If you can make it a game, even yard work can be an “outing” with the kids. Use it as a teaching opportunity to show them how plants grow, where we get our food, and the value of hard work. The rewards aren’t instantaneous and kids need to learn that lesson.
Plan a family car wash and don’t be afraid to get wet. Then, show them how to wax the car and how to check their tire pressure. Teach them how to diagnose different problems and read the guages and dials on the dashboard.
Set the example by taking your kids with you on volunteer opportunities. Working in a soup kitchen, collecting Toys For Tots, or volunteering at your local food bank costs you nothing but time and will have a lasting impact on your children.
Your only costs are a fishing license and a few supplies. Some of my fondest memories as a child involve fishing and some of my favorite times with my son are when we were “wetting a line.”
Tossing a baseball or football, throwing a Frisbee, or a simple game of tag costs less than $15 unless you already have the toy. Even if you don’t, the price tag isn’t very big.
Taking Something Apart
If your son or daughter has an engineering slant, buy an old radio at Goodwill or the Salvation Army and take it apart to see how it works. It doesn’t have to be a radio, try it with a toaster, an old computer, or whatever you find interesting on a “scavenger hunt.”
It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous or expensive, simply taking a walk or doing push ups or sit ups together can build that bond.
Camping can get expensive but you don’t have to make it that way. A small tent can cost $10 at a yard sale and camping in your own backyard is very cheap! If that isn’t exotic enough, try camping in a state park (usually less than $20/night). All you need is a cooler, some food, some blankets and pillows. I’m willing to bet you have those sitting around the house already.
Yes, I know. I’m trying to get AWAY from electronic gizmos, but my son and I have a lot of fun playing video games together. He actually beats me on a lot of them, but I’ve always told him that I won’t “let” him win. When he wins, he knows he did it himself!
Father son/daughter outings don’t have to be expensive. They aren’t supposed to be. Spending money shouldn’t be the purpose anyway. The whole purpose of an outing is to build better relationships with your children and teach them your values. Have a passion for teaching and bonding with your children and what you do together really won’t matter.