I have a 2 year old son and a VERY limited budget, but I hated that a lack of money could be a barrier to us going out and having fun! Weekends would roll around, and I would be out of ideas as to what we could do that was free or cost very little. What I finally did was gather information about places to go and things to do that are free or low-cost in our area. I then typed up a master list of all the information about the places or activities that I would need.
For example, in the next city over from us, there's a free zoo. I put "Racine Zoo" on my list, then the phone number, address, hours they're open, cost (in this case, free), etc. I also listed things like a "kids eat free" night at a local restaurant. I did the same for quite a few different places we like to visit, and also a few that we haven't been to yet.
Kids love picnics, especially in parks with playgrounds, nature sites, ones with little brooks. Messy, but fun.
Pony rides. Look in the paper for church festivals, street festivals, service organization festivals. How much could a corn dog cost? Don't tell me.
High school events but not plays or musicals. Football and baseball games are fun, and you don't have to stay for the whole thing. Little League, soccer and other sports for children--you can watch if you're too young to play, and the price is right.
Dog shows--just teach him up front not to touch any doggies--children can trigger a fear reaction and a snap. So just look.
Horse shows. Swimming meets...well, get out the newspaper, visit the Chamber of Commerce, and you will really have a list.
Your master list of activities for your 2 year old is a great idea to have around, why not take it one step further and share it with the world? You could take your list and post it online via a free website or message board service. Not only would you always have access to this information, but others in a similiar situation would now be able to get ideas too! They may even have new ideas for you to add?
Editor's Note: Post it here!
My family and I love to go to our library and check out the free passes to places like the kids musuem, Japanese Gardens. All kinds of fun places in your own area.
I love to take my daughter to the park. We live in a very small town so everything is close to our home. First we walk down to our local cafe for a small chocolate ice cream which doesn't cost but $1.69 and then we walk to the park. She enjoys sitting on the picnic table and eating her ice cream as she watches the cars go by. When she's finished with the ice cream we go and play. Some days we just swing and play on the slide, others we play on everything (even in the sand). She really enjoys it and it is great exercise for me too.
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