With school holidays coming up in our part of the world, I thought I would do a short post about cheap recreational activities. These would suit you if you have kids or not, because everyone is trying to save money and still have a good time, right?
1. The library is your BFF online not just IRL. (And not just for books!)
I’m a bit old fashioned and still enjoy perusing the shelves of a library in real life, but I know not everyone’s lifestyle affords such a luxury. Now you don’t even have to turn up in person. Well, you may have to sign up in person to get a library card. Once you’re in though, you’ve got the key to a treasure trove. Lots of modern libraries give you access to a lot of resources online. Our local council library membership offers internet access to ebooks, eAudiobooks and emagazines. Plus, all items ‘return’ themselves, because when your time’s up, the item disappears from your device and account. In case, you didn’t quite do all the maths, let me spell it out: No. More. Late. Fees. It’s awesome.
Audiobooks are great for some quiet time with kids or road trips. I’ve even listened to them while working out. It’s been great having an ebook on my phone to read for all the time I spend waiting around for my kids at swimming lessons and the like. I’m going to try and remember to have one lined up for my next plane trip. So handy.
Many libraries also run free events for a range of age groups, not just children. Book clubs, new release morning teas and talks with local authors. I’ve even heard of a library offering the occasional Tai Chi class. It’s a great way to get out of the house and meet new people without having to spend too much money.
2. Picnics are worth the effort
When I was young family time was often spent eating outdoors. We’d have the regular at-home barbecues and sometimes my parents would make the extra effort and take day trips to local national parks or other natural attractions. Some of my strongest memories are from these types of outings, even as an adult on dates. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Pack some sandwiches, take a drive somewhere (sometimes we just walk down the road to the local park!) and take in some different scenery.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out, especially with young ones, but there is something to be said for breaking out of the normal routine and having that feeling like something really happened. There was an event. You did something. Even when it’s stressful it can help pull you out of the duldrums.
My favourite is when an outing includes a ferry ride. Oh boy. Even a screaming toddler can not remove the charm of chugging across water on a ferry for me.
3. Listen to some music and dance.
Some people might be saying, ‘well, dah, I listen to music all the time.’ Unusual people like me don’t walk around with headphones in our ears or the car radio on constantly. I have to remind myself to listen to music. It’s strange, I know, but this is PSA for those out there who are just like me.
And now I get stranger. I think if you add the element of dance, there are not many people who will put their hand up to doing that on the regular. “I feel silly,” is a common response. To which the obvious reply is “that’s the whole point.” What better way to chill out than to totally let go and move your body to the music. It’s one of my all-time top favourite things to do. But, you know, just listening is cool too.
Sometimes I put on songs of my long-past youth, but recently I’ve been listening to Apple radio ‘Charting Now’ station. I’m very mainstream that way. There are new music playlists on Spotify and Pandora that you can use to discover new music for free, if you’re feeling more adventurous. Kind people have created playlists of artists that children enjoy too. I suggest searching for Australian artists Justine Clarke and Jay Laga’aia for the kids. Or soothing Indonesian Gamalan music. Nothing like soothing music to tame the wild beasts.
Hopefully you’ve found a suggestion or reminder that tickles your fancy. I sometimes get hung up on thinking “if we just had more money, we could be happier,” and it’s not always true. Simple, fun activities can give you a good time without breaking the bank. Enjoy!