Quality time is the key to bonding with your family and creating life long memories. However, some of the classic quality time activities, like family vacations, can come with budgets that aren't achievable in everyday life. Here are some quality time ideas that won't break the bank and that you can fit into your day to day life.
Help With Sports
If your kids are involved in any sports, helping them out with some practice is a great way to spend quality time together. In general, you probably don't need to know much about whatever their sport is to help them out. Knowing some basic things, like you can't use shaved wooden bats in temperatures below 65 degrees, can definitely be helpful, but you don't have to be Babe Ruth to help your child practice catching fly balls.
Tag along to one of your child's practices if you can and watch for any drills that they do during practice to get ideas of how to help. For a sport like soccer, you could act as a goalkeeper or pass them balls for them to practice different shots. Some sports, like swimming, are harder to help with, but you can use the time to and from the pool to have some quality time to talk about what's going on.
Rose, Bud, Thorn
If you ask about your children's day and all they say is "it was fine," this is a great way to get them talking about what's happening in their life. You can all share your "rose, bud, and thorn" at any time, but I've found it particularly helpful at meal-times and during car rides.
Your "rose" is something good that happened that day -- it could be as simple as seeing a cute dog or it could be something more exciting like getting a good grade on a test they were worried about. A bud is something that you're excited about that will happen soon. Some examples of this could be a concert coming up, a movie that you want to see that's premiering soon, or a trip that's coming up. Your "thorn" is something bad or unhappy that happened during the day. Although this isn't the most uplifting of things to talk about, it's important to help teach your kids about dealing with negative emotions.
Get Out Into Nature
The sounds and sights of nature have been the backdrop to millions of family memories over the years. Getting into nature can take many different forms, whether it's a nature walk, a hike, or going fishing. Fishing is actually very popular among kids with 11.6 million kids six to 17 years old participating in 2017. If fishing isn't your family's thing, then even something as simple as going to a park for a picnic can create a great opportunity for quality time. Many towns and cities have public parks that are free to go into, so make sure to research what your options are to see what's out there.
If your kids struggle with bedtime, going on a walk before bed can help tire them out and get them ready to hit the hay. The novelty of going outside in their pajamas will also help make the walks a little bit extra special in comparison to a normal day time walk. This is, obviously, something that you will have to do with the weather permitting, but it can be great any time it's warm enough out (or even if it's a bit chiller as long as you layer up).
Any time that you have to fix something around the house, ask your kids to tag along as little helpers. Even if the most that they "help" is by asking you questions about what you're doing, it's a great way to teach them about home upkeep and how to do certain tasks. Once your kids are a little bit older, you can have them actually help you with some of the tasks. Make sure to heavily supervise them, and if there are ever any sharp tools or dangerous chemicals, have them stay a safe distance away or consider having them sit out of that repair.
Cooking together is a great way to bond and teach your children real-world skills so they won't end up as that freshman in college with no knowledge of how to make anything besides a bowl of cereal. If you're divorced and not the custodial parent, who will have custody on average 277 days of the year, this is a great way to spend a weeknight visitation with your kids.
Pick one night a week and make it the designated night that you all cook together and have your kids help you choose what meal you'll make for the week as well. Give a few options, like tacos or pasta, and have them choose the one that they prefer. It's a great way to help them feel like they're really a part of the planning and making of the meal without the hassle of trying to get them to narrow every recipe ever down to one option.
Play in the Rain
This one is obviously heavily dependent on the weather, but it can be a lot of fun. If there's a time when there is rain but no thunder or lighting, get dressed up in your rain gear and just have fun. You can dance, race, play in the mud, or any other rain-dependent activities. It's a great way to have fun and feel like you're doing something you shouldn't do, which always sticks out to kids. After you've all gotten back inside and dried off, you can cuddle up together to watch a movie or drink some hot chocolate to really make it a memory your children won't forget. Just make sure not to be out there for too long to ensure no one gets a cold from it, and make sure to bundle up appropriately for the temperature.
Quality time doesn't need to be expensive because all that matters is that you're dedicating time just to spending with your family. Whether you're going for a hike or cooking a meal together, you're creating memories that your children will carry with them for years to come.