I worry if I’m a good mom. I also worry if I do enough with my kids. I’d really like for my kids to grow up and have fantastically great memories of all the fun they had with mom. However, I’m a single mom with a limited budget. I’m aware I don’t have to buy my kids the fun stuff and yet I feel so much guilt that I haven’t been able to bring them on extravagant trips. While they definitely do not lack in toys, I’m also not able to buy all the big toys they want or “need” on a specific day. So, how do I combat this? I make crap up! Money is NOT going to hold me back from having fun with my kids and making memories. Some of the absolute BEST memories we’ve made together have been from using items we have around the house! Keep reading for some ideas on activities you can share with your kids!
1. Balloon Blitz
We almost always have a bag of balloons in our house from the dollar store. You just never know when you’re going to need a balloon. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, the everyday.
For us, one of our favorite activities is to blow up balloons. My sons are 4 and 2 and they find this completely hilarious. The trick? Don’t tie off the balloon!
One day I was blowing up balloons for the kids to be able to play with, and while I had those 4 eyes just staring and waiting for their balloons, I got an idea.
Blow, blow, blow…let go!
Powered by Embed YouTube Video
That balloon deflated like a sat on whoopie cushion while wooshing in zig-zags all around the room.
The kids looked at that balloon flying all over the place and started laughing hysterically.
10 minutes later we’re all out of breath, the balloon is sadly wrinkled, and we couldn’t have been happier. They each then got their own balloon to play with that was inflated and tied off.
Blowing balloons has never been the same since then.
We can no longer just blow them up and tie them off without first having a session of our balloon madness first.
2. Pool Noodlin’
There are so many wonderful ideas out there in the use of pool noodles. It’s actually pretty amazing how many ways it can be used that have nothing to do with a pool.
I did mention I have boys, right? They have all this intense energy just stored away no matter how hard they play or how many activities they’ve done.
We don’t go to the pool very often, but we have pool noodles. I’ve used the larger sized ones to keep my youngest son from rolling out of his twin bed…that’s on the floor. Yes, I know. I have issues.
Back to the topic at hand.
The smaller pool noodles are now swords thanks to our neighbor.
They are cut into roughly 18 inches in length for the sword itself, and then around the chosen bottom of the sword, wrap it with some sort of colored tape. Even duct tape would work.
This makes the handle or the hilt.
The ability to play swords with each other allows them to get out some of their energy. Plus, quite frankly, they just have a blast having their swords.
The fact that it’s made from foamy pool noodles is something I dearly love as it reduces chances of injury.
Notice I didn’t say anything about no injury at all. Kids seem to have an uncanny ability to get hurt in the most unusual ways. That is a post for another day, that’s for sure!
3. Pillowcase Pull
One day, my 2-year-old and I were sitting in the living room and we had the laundry folded on the couch.
He has this extremely annoying habit of pulling the clean and folded clothes off of the couch and into a crumpled pile on the floor.
This day was no different, but he became sidetracked by a pillowcase for some reason.
I started putting his legs into the opening of the pillowcase and tried to shimmy it up the rest of his body to get him completely covered.
At this point he was starting to get slightly concerned as to my intentions.
Once I got him completely covered into the pillowcase like it was a sleeping bag, I grabbed the edges of the opening and started dragging him.
We went up and down the hall, all around the living room. I’m giggling, and he’s laughing so hard he’s having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
Now, his brother hears all of this hilarity going on and comes running. When he sees what is happening, he wants his own pillow.
Well, of course you can!
So I grab another pillowcase, stuff my 4 year old into it, and off we go! It started to get really interesting when I was dragging them at the same time in different cases, but wow was it so much fun and entertaining to see them having so much fun!
There are additional ways this pillowcase activity can be done as well.
After dragging them both around, I decided that I only wanted to pull one pillowcase. Having two cases being dragged was a little much and the walls got a little too close.
I took the biggest pillowcase out of the bunch, and stuck them both in. I’ve never seen them be so still as they were when I was getting them both shoved into this pillowcase.
It was a bit snug, but we made it work! I took off hauling them down the hallway, weaving them back and forth, wiggling it up and down.
In the end, I was sweaty from pulling and all the laughing and the boys were just completely enamored with pillowcases and the fun they could bring after.
One last way I’ve used the pillowcase would really only work with one child at a time.
On a separate occasion, my youngest son and I were once again in the living room with the laundry and I looked over to see him putting his feet into the pillowcase. GAME ON!!!!
I helped him put on the pillowcase, and then I pretended to be Santa Claus. I closed up the top of the pillowcase and started to haul him around the house.
Hallways, kitchen, living room, up onto the couch, lifted back to the floor, back down the hall.
I would peak in every now and then as I wanted to make sure he was ok even though the giggles should have been a good enough indication. The smile and happy gleam in his eyes was enough to assure me, but more, it is a look I’ll never forget. These are the memories I was hoping to create, and it was by using a pillowcase of all things.
4. Laundry Basket Derby
What kid doesn’t like to play in a laundry basket? They are the perfect multi-purpose tool. They hold laundry and they spark a child’s imagination.
When a parent sees a laundry basket, they see the piles of laundry about to go through the wash and the many loads that must be folded and sorted.
When a child sees a laundry basket, they see a spaceship, a castle, a tractor and cars.
As a parent, I love seeing this imagination take root, and even more, I love to help it flourish.
When my sons get in the laundry basket, it’s derby time! Well, if there are no clothes in it that is.
Derby time goes something a little like this: “Momma, more more” This is my 2-year-old’s way of telling me he wants me to do something. When he’s sitting in a laundry basket with a huge grin on his face and he’s holding onto the sides, it’s not that hard to decipher what “more” he is wanting.
I’ll grab onto the back of the laundry basket and start pushing. Of course, I must add in a few sound effects. Derby cars aren’t meant to be silent after all.
After about 1 lap around the living room, and then my 4-year-old will decide he wants in on the fun, and in the basket he gets!
Now I’ve got two giggling toddlers racing around in their laundry derby car vroom vrooming all over the place.
They have a blast; I have a blast watching them enjoy themselves so much. As a side benefit, I also get quite a bit of exercise in. Being an engine is hard work!
5. Ice Cream Sandwich Boat
This isn’t necessarily an activity so much as a treat. However, the joy it brings to them when we make this is astounding. Depending on how you decide to have the boat made, such as with the child’s help or without it, would most definitely make it an activity.
An Ice Cream Sandwich Boat is an ice cream sandwich placed in a bowl, whipped cream squirted liberally over the top, and then the kids pick out which sprinkles they want to have on top.
When they get to do the sprinkling, they get even more excited. Sometimes, I will even cut off the top sandwich part so there is only the bottom crust, the ice cream in the middle, whipped cream and sprinkles. Makes it look prettier and has an added benefit of having less sugar.
An alternative I also do is to add M&M’s, or chocolate syrup with bananas. It’s automatically healthy if I add the bananas, right?
That part is especially important when I do something like give it to them right before bedtime. Probably not my brightest moment ever.
Conclusion: Making Lasting Memories Through Activities and Togetherness
Being a parent is hard. Undoubtedly, it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s also very hard at times to find the energy to play with your children after a long day at work, or a long day of cleaning, or just being plain mentally exhausted.
The easy part? Just let go. Try to remember back to when you were a child. What do you remember the most? Do you remember how your parent always had food on the table at 6:00 sharp? Or do you remember, hopefully, the impromptu tickle sessions that would occur, or the trips outside to just say goodnight to the moon?
The most important thing I must constantly remind myself is this. Yes, they get very irritated and disappointed when I am not able to get them the latest toy they are wanting.
But that toy is not going to be the thing they remember when they are grown up.
The memories we make together just doing something silly, or even just talking together and spending time together will be what they remember.
I’d love to hear something that you do with your kids! Have you made up any games, or have your own special way of doing something that just throws them into hysterics? Please share below in the comments or send me an email, as I always love ideas I can use with my kids!