(MOSTLY) SCREEN-FREE FRUGAL OR FREE IN-HOME ENTERTAINMENT

free or frugal in-home entertainment ideas

BECAUSE MOST OF MY THANKSGIVING BREAK OPTIONS AREN’T REALLY FEASIBLE RIGHT NOW…

Whether you’re home on Spring break or self-isolating here are several (mostly) screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment options ways to keep your family occupied.

We have Spring break in a week and local schools are now closed until at least the following week.  I have a great post on How to Keep the Kids Entertained Thanksgiving Break, but a lot of those items aren’t exactly ideal options right now given the current coronavirus pandemic. This list is for me and my family just as much as it is for yours!

Here is my “don’t go crazy in March” post. And, since we’re keeping it #MinimalistInMarch, I’m trying not to get too complicated. Since our schedule hasn’t permitted much gym time for me we decided to cancel that and get Disney +; we considered it just before Christmas break and then talked ourselves out of it.

In light of that new subscription and all the viewing possibilities opened up (we don’t have cable, Hulu, or Netflix), I decided to brainstorm some screen-free activities we could do at home over Spring break. As our local parks are small and mostly play equipment centered we will likely be avoiding them for the most part.

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(MOSTLY) SCREEN FREE IN-HOME ENTERTAINMENT IDEAS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILy

1. Break out the games

free or frugal in-home entertainment ideas

All the games. We have slowly been building our collection since our oldest started school. We currently own Yeti in My Spaghetti, Trouble, Hoot Owl Hoot, and Candyland to name a few (our oldest is just 6.5)

There are also have a few decks of cards as well as Uno so Go Fish might happen a little more than I like to admit. As I work on this post I’ve already played two rounds. On a Sunday afternoon.

We considered buying another game or two on Amazon before the two weeks are up. I am specifically interested in adding games our 2.5-year-old can play too, since he typically wants to get involved, but doesn’t understand most games just yet. A classic like Don’t Break the Ice would be nice.

But, we have since put a pin in that as it would likely require a special trip to a store following Amazon’s announcement that they were suspending non-essential shipments in order to keep up with household and medical supply orders.

2. PULL OUT THE ART SUPPLIES

Last year when our house was finished a full roll of brown contractor paper was left behind. I plan to unroll that the full length of the dining table and let the kids go to town on it for a bit. That should keep them busy for a few minutes. We might even design our own board game to play while we’re at it.

I also have a small collection of pipe cleaners and pom-pons to pull out and let the oldest’s imagination take over for a bit. I’m holding back on this one for a few days, just because I don’t have an unlimited supply of these things and she’s young enough she wants to sit down and use it all in one sitting

3. READING

This is one of the free or frugal in-home entertainment options that might not be entirely screen-free. While we have a rather large selection of books for the kids, most of my reading will be done on my tablet checking out e-books.

I originally planned to go to the public library early on in Spring break and loading up on books to read throughout the week, but figure we’ll sit it out. As of right now, the library is still open but the programs are all suspended. Just the same, I think we’ll sit it out this time.

free or frugal in-home entertainment

4. DECLUTTER THE HOUSE (AGAIN)!

I know, I just did some of this a week ago, but hey, I’m sure being in the house 24/7 for a while will reveal even more unneeded items! I’m more than happy to go for another round of decluttering!

If you haven’t gotten started or if you just did a quick run-through of a few rooms when you found a spare minute, get to work on it now! You may be amazed at what you find hiding in the closet or at the very back of the shelf.

5. AFTER YOU’VE DECLUTTERED, TACKLE THAT SPRING CLEANING

Don’t tell me you’re surprised to see this one after how much I’ve talked about it on the blog and YouTube channel this month for Minimalist in March?! This is one of those things that those who typically work outside the house never have time for.

Well, you’re home, and suddenly you have all the time in the world, so get cleaning! Granted, if your kids are anything like mine no one would believe you had cleaned your house if you didn’t make a YouTube video that proved it.

I actually have more cleaning to do. You’ll know I didn’t get my cleaning supplies replenished in time if the Spring Clean With Me: Bathroom Edition video isn’t currently up on YouTube (this post was written in advance).

6. GET OUTSIDE

If you are fortunate to have an outdoor space to yourself take full advantage! We happen to have a rather large yard, playset, and some outdoor toys. I plan to get out of the house with the kids to play in the yard as much as weather permits.

Right now it’s rather muddy with more rain on the forecast, but a cool clear day still allows us to take a walk down the driveway. Fun fact; six trips up and down the driveway is roughly a mile. If I start pacing at least I’ll get my steps in for the day!

I also plan to dig out the sidewalk chalk and see if we have any bubbles. Simple activities like this can provide several minutes of entertainment. When your kids are as young as mine are, that’s a good chunk of time!

7. STAY CONNECTED WITH TECHNOLOGY

This one requires a screen as well, but this is one of those times technology comes in really handy. We had planned to visit my daughter’s old Children’s Church teacher over Christmas break, but her husband had pneumonia and was transported to the hospital the morning we planned to visit.

I will be reaching out to our dear Miss Linda and asking if she would be up for a FB or Skype chat with the kiddos over Spring break. I might even do this with a few other moms I’d planned to arrange play dates with that likely won’t happen now. Let’s be honest, sometimes the play dates are for the moms just as much if not more than they are for the kids.

8. PRACTICE A LITTLE SELF-CARE AT HOME

This mama is seriously considering taking a nice, long relaxing bath one night after the kids go to bed one night (as soon as I get their tub cleaned) and just taking a moment. Maybe paint your nails or even wash your hair if it’s been a few days.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose. It might even be another item from this list you just do on your own, but just make sure you take a bit of time to take care of yourself. Not only is it good for your mental and emotional health, but it’s also better in the long run on everyone else in the house.

If you need some ideas or recipes, check out Self Care for Mamas: Self Care on a Dime or maybe 10 Frugal or Free Mom Hacks to help get you through. I just might have to reread those myself!

a little self care

9. GET SOME LEARNING IN WHILE YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME

Take in a podcast or two, read a book, or do an online search on a subject you’re interested in, but haven’t taken the time to research. Just because you’re not able to get out and about doesn’t mean you can’t learn.

You can get a good start on learning a foreign language in a week or two’s time if you find the right program for you. There are lots of free courses online on an endless amount of subject matter to check out and expand your knowledge with while you’re stuck at home. This isn’t a screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment idea, but it is a beneficial one.

10. CATCH UP ON SEWING PROJECTS

Or, if you don’t know how to sew learn! Have a pile of mending that’s been waiting for your attention? Now is a great time to take care of it. I myself have a stack of leggings with torn knees I plan to cut off into shorts for my daughter. Next week seems like a great time to tackle this project.

If I’m feeling brave and patient enough, I might even use it as a basic sewing lesson for my daughter if she’s interested. Those are two big ifs, but it is a possibility!

Maybe you learned how to knit or crochet but need to improve your skills? Pull those needles out and get knitting! Learn a new stitch if you just want a challenge.

11. TACKLE SOME PROJECTS AROUND THE HOUSE YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF

Have some picture frames that have been propped up against the wall or in a closet for a while? I know I do. What about a painting project you have all the supplies for but haven’t started yet?

Maybe you’ve thought about rearranging furniture in one particular room (or every room) of the house. Well, you’ve got some time now. Get some cleaning done under and behind that furniture while you’re at it and tick two items off the list at the same time!

This is also a great time to organize the garage and prep for an early summer yard sale if you’ve been planning one. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to park the car back in there by the time you’re able to get back out of the house! That might be nice.

12. PLAN OUT THAT SPRING GARDEN YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED

You can do lots of research on planting times in your zone as well as pick a good spot, write out your list of items you want to plant, and figure out the layout of your garden without a trip to the farm and garden supply.

Heck, if you’re feeling good and have the tools already you can even start prepping that garden spot. When you’re able to venture out you’ll have your shopping list together and be ready to get that garden in the ground.

13. MAKE UP A GAME WITH THE KIDS

Or find a new way to play an old favorite; just last week in the car our daughter came up with an interesting way to play tic-tac-toe. She and my husband played verbally, only picturing the game board in their minds. It was a much greater challenge and made her think a little harder than when she plays on paper.

You might even teach the kids a few games you played as a kid to pass the time they’ve never heard of.

14. GET BAKING

Chances are there was no bread last time you went to the grocery store. No worries, it’s really easy to make with a few simple ingredients. I even have a recipe for you! I need to get a loaf baked this week and I might as well have the kids help me do it.

If your kids are old enough and you’re feeling brave,  set them loose in the kitchen and see what use it up meals they can come up with! This is a good way to use up items before they expire or go through more before making another grocery run.

You can also make a few dishes and freeze them for later when everything is running on regularly scheduled programming again. Your future self will likely thank you for being so thoughtful! It’ll also save you some money from what might otherwise turn into a takeout order.

If you ordered a few too many random perishable items because you were not prepared for the grocery shopping experience in the first two weeks of March then this is a great way to reduce the risk of food spoiling; get some freezer meals made.

Not a great cook? Looks like you’ve found the time to change that. This screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment sure sounds like a tasty one to try!

free or frugal in-home entertainment

15. WORK ON YOUR HUSTLE WHILE YOU’RE AT HOME

Here is a screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment idea that might actually earn you some cash. Devote the much needed time to your existing side hustle or find a new one. There are lots of opportunities to earn an income from home.

Now is a great time to look into them. I’m usually home, but this one I might accomplish less of with two kids instead of one home all day.

At least I got a week ahead on posts! This will take a little pressure off this week at least. We shall see how many posts happen next week! All jokes aside, I don’t plan on slowing down with the blog. I may just have to get more creative with my “working” hours in the next few weeks.

16. DIG INTO YOUR FAITH… OR (RE)DISCOVER IT

I don’t know about you, but I don’t devote near enough time to cultivating my relationship with God. Lately, I have been reading a selection of CS Lewis’ works during Lent in preparation for Easter, but haven’t exactly been consistent with it. I need to get consistent.

This week marked the first Sunday we didn’t attend church services due to the current health situation. I was very fortunate to be able to watch the church service on Facebook that afternoon when the youngest went down for a nap.

It is nice to be able to plug into a community when I can’t physically worship with them. Whether you typically worship in church or not I encourage you to plug into your faith or really seek to find your faith. It is always a reassuring feeling to be able to connect to and rely on a higher power to see you through uncertain times. I think the current situation definitely applies!

17. REVISIT OLD HOBBIES

So many of us have hobbies we have given up on or neglected due to other obligations and just… life. Why not brush off the dust and pick it back up? It may be sports equipment from your pre-kid beer league days or just a frisbee you can use with the kids in the yard.

Maybe you have some workout videos (or a whole in-home gym maybe?), jewelry making, or crossword puzzles. Or that scrapbook you never finished. Pull it out! Work on it! Have some fun!

Who knows? This might become a lucrative side hustle once you’re out of the house?! Lots of people do not have time to put together their own scrapbooks or love giving handmade jewelry as gifts. This is one screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment idea that might actually reignite an old passion project!

18. REMEMBER THOSE LESS FORTUNATE

It’s really easy to feel sorry for ourselves when faced with new and unusual circumstances, but I can’t imagine the stress families whose children rely on school meals must feel right now with school out for an indeterminate amount of time.

Pick up the phone or get online and make a monetary donation if at all possible to a local food bank or charity. I know our local food banks were hurting before the panic buying set in and limited supplies at stores.

Call your neighbors and make sure they have enough toilet paper. Offer to leave some on their doorstep if they don’t. Check-in on people who might not be handling the situation as well. Give them your ear for a bit.

Nothing makes you count your blessings quite like spending time with the less fortunate. Maybe make it online or over the phone in this case. Tithe on a regular basis? Go online and see if your church or favorite local charity offers safe online donations.

19. GIVE YOUR CURRENT CAREER AN HONEST ASSESSMENT

Do you really love what you do? If you separate the work from the coworkers are you just there for the people? Maybe you love what you do but realize after removing yourself from the office for a few weeks you work in a somewhat toxic environment.

It may be time to brush off the old resume and rethink your career track, or maybe just your current place of employment. You may find you are perfectly happy and content to be where you are too.

That’ll make you count your blessings. Be sure to consider what opportunities for advancement are available with your current place of employment and whether or not that is acceptable in the long run.

20. GET UP AND GO TO BED ON A SOMEWHAT REGULAR SCHEDULE

This tip isn’t technically an entertainment tip, more of a survival one. If you’re like me and your kids are typically up by the crack of dawn, don’t beat yourself up for sleeping in once or twice. It rarely happens around here, so I’ll take it when I get it! You should too, within reason.

Don’t keep the kids up much later in hopes they stay asleep longer. Speaking from experience, it almost never works. You’re setting yourself up for an even harder day. Get to bed at a decent time yourself every night too.

With school transferring to virtual classrooms, we are sticking to a schedule with course work as well for our school-aged child. This should give the days a sense of normalcy and routine more than just reacting to the day.

ABOVE ALL, DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF

It isn’t easy feeling stuck at home, even when you’re a full-time parent. Be sure to give yourself some grace in this situation. Yes, the kids may end up in front of a computer or TV screen more than is usually acceptable, but just remember, this isn’t a usual circumstance.

Do what you have to do to keep your sanity during this little break from regularly scheduled programming. It’s not a bad idea to evaluate your regularly scheduled programming and count your blessings or reflect on areas you’d like to improve.

Above all, don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you need it in a safe, responsible manner. Feel free to vent on social media, send the occasional “send wine!” tweet, or just be honest when someone asks how you’re doing.

Hopefully, this list of 20 mostly screen-free frugal or free in-home entertainment ideas was helpful. If anything else, I just want to tell you, “Hey, you’ve got this!”

you've got this

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