“It’s raining (or snowing) and we can’t go outside!”
How many times has a mom dreaded saying those words…not being able to go outside or do some different, fun activity means bored kids and a mentally exhausted mom. Keeping kids entertained is a full-time job in itself, but usually something you have to deal with during the summer or winter break. In my case, before the triplets started school, it was what I had to deal with pretty much daily and also something I dreaded greatly once winter rolled around.
No matter how old your kids are or what your situation is, it’s always nice to have a few ideas up your sleeve when it comes to making sure they’re not watching TV all day and/or you’re exposing them to new experiences. And while you may already have thought of some great options, money might be tight, so let me help with that and share a list of free-to-inexpensive activities you can plan on doing with your kids pronto!
Free local activities
- Free Museum Passes via the Denver Public Library Card: You can apply for a card at any Denver public library by showing proof of address and ID. On the website, you can book a free pass to some museums for up to seven people. I’ve used it several times to explore the Denver Science & Nature Museum and it’s always a hit with the kiddos.
- Free concerts/events: You‘d be surprised at how many free concerts, movies and different events are available, especially during the summer. A quick Google search will do, or even just visiting Denver.org.
- Free MallRide on 16th Street Mall: While this can be practical if you actually have someplace to go downtown, just getting to ride a red bus on a street closed to regular traffic can prove to be a lot of fun for the little ones too. The MallRide runs seven days a week and stops on every block between Civic Center Station and Union Station. Check their website for hours of operation.
- Join a moms group: You could start as simply as finding a Facebook group for moms in the same neighborhood or asking about it in your church. A great option is MOPS and also the Mothers of Multiples Society if you’re a fellow mother of multiples. By connecting with other moms, you can coordinate playdates together or share ideas on what to do locally.
- Geocaching: Although I haven’t tried this one personally yet, I’ve heard from other moms that it’s a hit. A modern-day, tech treasure hunt, you use the GPS on your smartphone, download the Geocaching app, and use coordinates to locate hidden containers, or geocaches. Once you find them, sign your name and date on the logbook and log your experience online. I was surprised to find there are over 22,000 geocaches in Colorado and it’s become quite the trend among hikers!
- Volunteering: While you might already practice volunteering and engaging your kids, I feel like it might be an overlooked option. Depending on their age, there are fun volunteering ideas kids will enjoy that you may not have considered. The Ronald McDonald House, for example, has several opportunities to become involved, such as helping prepare meals for families.
Free home activities
- Cleaning: Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. If the kids are expected to clean and help, it might as well be fun, especially if they’re still little and willing (wink, wink). You could make it simple by letting them play inside the car while you clean it or even turn it into a game with a scoring system and all.
- Cooking: While I’m sure you could find a cooking class for kids, you could just as easily involve them in the kitchen as well. Give them easy tasks like washing produce, mixing in ingredients or even ask them to read a recipe and walk you through it.
- Camping in: Making forts and tents can never get old for little ones. Use sheets, pillows, and if you’re feeling adventurous, prop up some Christmas lights. Make some popcorn, play board games or have everyone tell their favorite story.
- Camping out: Now, if you want to be serious about the experience, get a real tent and settle in the backyard. That’ll call for s’mores and some bug repellent, but an easy escape plan if anyone needs to go to the bathroom or decides that sleeping on a comfy bed is more fun.
- Berry Picking: Especially for the kiddos who have little contact with rural areas, this could be quite a change in scenery. You can find a list of U-Pick farms in Colorado at Pickyourown.org.
- Bouncy House/Trampolines: Guaranteed hours of fun for a small price? Count me in. Once my kids got a little bit older and could enjoy jumping unassisted, bouncy house or trampoline venues became a no-brainer. There are so many all over, but here are some chains with a few locations spread out: JumpStreet, Monkey Bizness, SkyZone.
- Belleview Park: whenever I have family come over from different states, they are amazed at how the Belleview Park in Englewood is free with so much to do! The area and location and truly beautiful and you can also enjoy a small petting zoo and a mini train ride for $2 a person. Definitely worth a visit!
- Dollar Summer movies: Regal movie theaters offer a selection of kids’ movies twice a week during the summer for $1 a ticket. Every week there are two movies to choose from, starting at 10 AM.
Indoor, outdoor, for free, or at a small price, you should be able to find at least one activity to do with your kids that you hadn’t tried before. If anything, you can have a better idea of what’s around and come up with something on your own. Happy kid-entertaining to you!