Part Three of You CAN Live On One Income is all about parenting and family time. Lots of these suggestions come from my growing up years. I was born on a farm and grew up living a charmed but simple life.
We made do with what we had, we participated in a lot of work around the house, yard and garden, played outside using our imaginations to create little worlds for ourselves, spent time with family and friends in the mountains picnicking, went camping and rode bikes.
We did not have fancy lives but we had great lives and grew up with great values, work ethics and a sense of gratitude. Spending time with your children is the least expensive, highest yield investment you can make to ensure their success in life.
Parenting and Family Time
- Build a network of parent-friends you can trade babysitting with for date nights
- Go to the park, beach or mountains regularly instead of amusement parks and other expensive entertainment.
- Go on simple picnics instead of out to restaurants.
- Go camping nearby instead of spending on expensive hotels and airfare
- Organize potluck family nights with friends, family and neighbors
- Sew and make simple gifts or offer a service like free babysitting for one night
- Go to the library for books, CDs and DVDs
- Use discount movie tickets, rent DVDs or swap movies with friends
- Take advantage of free family fun at local libraries and museums
- Go to free community concerts, outdoor movies and other events
- Take advantage of family discounts at local stores and malls.
- Create a budget and review community calendars for fun, low-cost activities
- Focus on spending time with family and friends - building relationships.
- Look at alternative public schools or joint or co-op family preschools or home schools.
- Trade gently-used kids clothing with groups of friends
- Join mom and parent groups where you can build relationships and learn together You'll get lots of great advice.
- Build strong relationships and spend quality time working with your kids around the house. They learn to work and apply themselves best when doing it with you.
- Do service. Look for people in your community that you can help. Drop off cookies to a neighbor. Make dinner for a sick friend. Teach your kids the value of selflessness.
- Start a garden with your children. Raise your own flowers and food. Even if you live in an apartment, you can join a community garden or grow food on your balcony.
- Buy toys and stuffed animals at thrift stores. There are lots of very inexpensive quality kids items that can be easily cleaned or laundered.
- Buy kids furniture at thrift stores. There is a huge variety of reusable furniture out there and a quick coat of paint can take it from blah to amazing.
- Organize a Saturday morning weekly basketball or soccer game with dads and kids in your neighborhood.
- Buy used sporting equipment such as bikes, scooters, roller skates, etc. at thrift stores or through craigslist. There are a ton of great kids bikes out there for a song.
More than anything, kids just want time with you. You'll bless their lives if you teach them to enjoy life without constant frills, lavish gifts and entertainment and not to be dependent on money to make them happy. Teach gratitude and service to others and you will guarantee a happy life for your family.