Hi everyone! My husband and I are taking a class called “debt destruction” which includes lots of brilliant financial coaching and habit reconstruction. One of the topics that came up recently was family entertainment expenses.
This summer, with a 3 and 4 year old, was quite a big shock to the system – why? We started getting them into registered programs. We easily spent several grand this summer on that – we definitely accumulated some pretty good debt in the process. A registration for September here, a camp there, summer school for two little ones and a few other things added up FAST on the credit card. I endeavoured to pay these things off once I returned to work from mat leave but as you know, you are so busy playing catch up on other things, you don’t do it!
After that, my husband and I realized that we simply can’t (and don’t want to) keep up with the registered stuff with three kids, and we both like more flexibility in our schedules and spontaneity anyways. We’re all for free play and random adventures and hate having our schedules booked up.
So, if you are feeling the same after this summer, and have toddlers and young children in your house, here is a list of fun and frugal family activity ideas in Calgary! Crafts deserves its own section because it is a passion of mine, so stay tuned for seasonal craft posts. But for now, some ideas for fall!
Downtown library (visit the firetruck (Engine23) for stories read by real firefighters!)
Grab a copy of Calgary’s Child Newspaper, sit down with your iphone and add events into your calendar that capture your interest. So often we simply forget what’s going on / coming up.
Baking – no comments, not my area of strength lol
Community skating and toboganning areas
Cycle along the pathway in east village – there is an excellent playground by the East Simmons Building.
Tumble time / play time in community centres. Usually weekday mornings. Our favourites? Lake Bonavista ($4 per kid, from 9:30 – 12:30) and Mackenzie Lake Community Centre.
Explore the many pathways, steps and gazebo at Reader Rock Garden
Many community churches also have parent-tot playgroups and non-denominational events. Most of them are listed on Meetup!
Go on a Halloween scavenger hunt – print out pictures of pumpkins, ghosts, etc. and get the kids to point them out / cross them off.
Take the kids and a few logs down to Fish Creek Provincial Park, roast marshmallows in a firepit. If it’s snowy, take maple syrup and try making maple candy!
Sip a coffee at the Calgary Farmers’ market while your kids play in their cute little indoor playground (free)
Buy a 12 pack of submersible colour changing LED lights, make a GIANT bubble bath and pop a light in there for each kiddo. This was a HUGE hit with my kids. I like these ones on Amazon! – You can also pick them up in Safeway!
Attend the Michaels Craft Stores $2 kids craft Saturdays 10-12, sign up in store.
Download the Geocaching app, or buy a few cool things from the loonie store and do your own treasure hunt in the trees with the kids (they LOVE this stuff.)
City of Calgary pools have $2 family swim days, these are called “Splash Swim” – they are busy, but very affordable!
In Inglewood, visit Plant YYC and pick up some ‘terrarium supplies’ and a miniature figurine or two. Your child will love collecting moss and making their own little house.
Make a fairy garden, you can buy cute doors at Michaels and spend only $5 – less if you use the weekly 40% off coupon (use the Flipp App) – they have theme doors based on the season which is SO fun!
Book a visit to Calgary Children’s Reading House in Inglewood
Watch planes take off from the YYC airport runway (there is a great viewing area at the end of the runway) – the Edward Laborde Airplane Watching Area
Set up a tent in your basement, the kids LOVE “camping out” in it! You can even give them some LED lights for their ‘campfire’ and marshmallows on sticks. These are easily available in Loonie Stores.
Go to Loose Moose Improve Theatre’s childrens’ shows and watch your kids hysterically laugh!
Snow? Toboganning! Check out this great toboganning park review by Family Fun Calgary!
I hope these got your creativity going. Get out there and enjoy! xo