“Pocket friendly” family activities for quality time with the Kids!


Our lifestyles today have changed a great deal, long gone are the days children spent a bigger percentage of their time with parents, we get sucked into the vortex created by our daily routines to and pressures of life to improve our quality of lives. Getting caught in this paper chasing businesses that we prioritize higher than spending that quality time with kids, which we do sometimes hoping things will improve as we continue procrastinating quality fun times as we strive to provide better for them. Only to realize time has passed and behaviors have changed contributed by the habits we already have acquired or formed around living this kind of life.

The pressures of our economy on the other hand has forced everyone into a rat race, kids spending more time with house helps and teachers, at some point, we start realizing that our children are developing behaviors we do not understand or subscribe to, not knowing where they picked them from.

As the God chosen role models of our children, much more is expected and required of to play roles in molding the character in them, as opposed to lifestyles we have acquired in making ends meet, finding it easier to work around the services offered by our house helps, education systems, day cares and the like.

I have gathered below a list of activities that we can incorporate in our lives to help realize quality time spent in developing the quality time we want in spending time with our children.

It is upon us to ensure creation of time to improve the quality of both our lives and our children without blaming it on the financial stress we go through.

I approach it from the idea of a “money-free weekend” – one in which you consciously avoid the pressures of missing out on quality family time due to this pressures and have listed a number of activities you can engage in during such free times especially weekends and holidays.

Each of these activities describes something you can do on a regular basis. They all work well for a family with children, though many of them work well just for adults too.

Most of them are free, though a few may have a negligible cost as they rely on things you probably already have.

  1. Paper hands craft contest

You can build great paper boats out of paper you happen to have lying around. Caps, jets and flowers as well and many other items that our can google and learn. You can also use aluminum foil and/or cardboard in this exercise. Paper airplane is best on a slightly windy day when we can fly the planes with the aid of the wind. A gentle breeze is often perfect to help even poorly-built planes fly a surprising distance.

  1. Movie clips and videos

If you have a video camera of any kind lying around, you can make a short movie. Turn on the camera, film some scenes, then quickly stitch them together and watch your creation. You can make a music video, a comedy, a dramatic film of family fun times.

Modern phones come with these capabilities and features, free applications can be downloaded from google play and apple store for those using IPhone.

  1. Scavenger hunt

Take a bunch of digital pictures of items that can be found around your house or property, then send everyone out to find those items. Alternately, you can make a list.

One fun way to do this is to have both adults make a list of creative things to find, combine the lists, then pair off parents and children to figure out and find those things.

  1. Chalk drawing contest

The small chalk and creative boards we come across in the streets costs just a few hundred shillings and can go a long way in creating a creativity context.

Those with computers can use “Paint” application which comes as part of windows or can get “Gimp” in the case of Macintosh for the same.

  1. Museum visits

Many museums offer free family days at discounted rates. A day at any type of museum can be a great way to spend that day.

  1. Board games

If you have any board games in your closet, just pull one out and play it.

  1. Visit a park near you

Most park/orphanage rates are subsidized especially for the citizens of the country, you can take advantage of this and extend fun times and learning into the parks

  1. Visit a playground

Almost every community has a public playground or two for children of all ages to enjoy. There are very few kids that can’t be entertained on a playground.

  1. Go on a nature walk in a park

Parks offer an abundance of nature walks and hiking trails for all different ages and abilities. A walk through nature is a chance to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells that the natural world has to offer. Example in the county of Nairobi would be Uhuru Park, Uhuru gardens, arboretum, Karura forest, Ololua in Ngon’g among many more, Butterfly pavilion is one of such an example in Mombasa, find a park near you to tap onto this learning fun times.

  1. Rock and Shell collection

Make rock and shell collections, chose from the various locations you visit over the years. Not only is it fun finding them, beautiful rocks can make for a wonderful addition to a garden.

  1. Attend a community concert or trash collection event

Many communities hold open-air concerts; functions and events going on in your area throughout the year. Start by checking out your community calendar. Go on a “litter clean-up” walk usually organized by the community, this brings people together to stroll through the community with a trash bag at hand picking up garbage. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when doing this.

Not only does it provide some nice exercise, it also helps the neighborhood look better.

  1. Visit the library

You can discover the many offerings available at the library that go beyond books. Many libraries have CDs, DVDs, audio books, movie nights, clubs, and other events that are well worth discovering, most of all is that they’re usually free or close to free on financial demand.

  1. Start a micro home garden

You don’t need a lot of space to start a garden. In fact, you can grow several plants in a single square foot, a sack garden or container is a great way to get this going

Keep an eye on the garden, water it regularly and remove any weeds that compete for nutrients.

  1. Visit a fire station

Most fire stations welcome visits by interested persons (though you should check with them before stopping by). Some fire stations will give individual tours, while others have tour programs at certain times during the week. Usually, all of these are free.

  1. Have a movie marathon

Most families with children wind up with a collection of family DVDs. On a particularly cold day when the weather is not favorable for those outdoor activities, have a movie marathon. Allow each person in the family to choose an appropriate movie, then choose from that pool at random. You can have a “mini marathon” on that Sunday afternoon as you nibble on some healthy snacks.

  1. Read aloud as a family

Another option is to have a period each day where a chapter in a book is read aloud by someone in the family. You can choose a book that’s appropriate everyone to enjoy. Give everyone who can handle the material a chance to read a chapter aloud and show off their skills.

  1. Create a comic book

This is a great project for families with some art skills and storytelling skills. Develop the basic plot of a comic book, then let some people draw the pictures, while others fill in the descriptions and art bubbles.

  1. Historical site visits in your area

Most areas have a number of historical sites ranging from exhibits to sites from the colonial period or of early settlers to Civil War sites and memorials or sites of more recent events.

  1. Check out a free community movie night

Factual films are but one of those you can “pull” when it shows, I am certain it has crossed your mind to question how they still survive despite the massive evolution of home entertainment, now I guess you have a clue how.

Many communities offer free movie nights during the summer (and sometimes throughout the year). See if your community or school is hosting free outdoor movie nights and attend one.

Grab a blanket and enjoy a film that’s projected on a giant wall out under the moon and stars.

  1. Plan out your “someday” vacation

Where would you like to go someday? Why? What would you do on that trip? What would you want to see?

All of us have places we’d like to visit in the world. You can let that imagination roam for free by planning your ideal vacation. Use the internet to figure out what you might see or do when you get there, then tell the rest of the family all about it! Visit trip advisory sites and companies like bonfire adventure to see the options and plans you can work with.

  1. Build a blanket fort

Take out all of your blankets and pillows, grab a few stools and chairs and design a giant blanket fort that takes over part of a room.

Building a blanket fort can be really fun, but so can crawling around inside of a well-constructed fort.

  1. Turn family room into a temporary spa

Dig out a few of those old bottles of nail polish from the back of the cupboard and get some large basin for soaking your feet. It’s not hard at all to turn a living room into a spa for a few hours.

You can spend time together helping each other relax or getting your nails done or simply soaking some tired feet for a while. The girls would love to do this as they play with nail polish.

  1. Bake some cookies or meal preparations

Make a batch of cookies with whatever ingredients you have at hand.

Google recipes from the net, watch programs or get In-touch with professionals in the field like Wangeci Wandere of www.africankaya.com who can share some skills as well as point you to cooking and baking events taking part.

  1. Build a backyard obstacle course

Every once in a while, find a bunch of odds and ends and set them up in a backyard obstacle course. Then, run timed races around the course usually follow that up with a completely different obstacle course.

Not only does it give you a great way to use your yard space, its good exercise and gives a good excuse to dig through the recesses you have not been using around the house.

  1. Plan and execute a family picnic.

Many of family activities involve going out and about, and when you’re doing that, there’s food involved. You don’t have to eat out, just take a picnic.

Since you’re going to be eating a meal anyway, a picnic is an inexpensive way to do it. Plus, you can work together as a family to plan and prepare a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy. You don’t need another reason for this, just pack a basket and have a picnic in the back yard.

  1. Build a sand castle

Find a bunch of sand cans trays and other small containers. Fill them with sand and make constructions.

  1. Do a science experiment

It’s fun to do a science experiment, even a simple one like finding out what happens when you mix together various simple kitchen items like baking soda and vinegar.

That’s only the beginning, though. You can spend some time figuring out why these things happen and then have family members explain the results to everyone, giving them a good chance to work on their speaking and presentation skills.

  1. Create an insect box and go on a collection spree

You can easily build a simple box out of stuff that’s likely sitting around your house or use an empty transparent product container. Once you have that, it’s easy to find and collect insects.

  1. Design a toy house or structure from blocks or Legos

Use toy building blocks, Legos or even pieces of scrap containers to design a structure. You can expand this idea and make a bigger project like a city instead.

  1. Create a journal about your life

Get notebooks or journals lying around, turn them into journals or scrapbooks. Have each person grab one and start journaling.

You can create an entry each day just listing five or ten things that happened that you might want to remember.

  1. Take a tour at the nearest airport/ strip/park

Many airports offer guided tours of their facilities that let visitors see what activities go on around the airport. This can be quite fascinating for both kids and adults alike.

This is something that varies greatly from airport to airport.

While in Nairobi, Visit Wilson airport or the one on your way to Isinya “Oryl airpark” or ever busy JKIA in Embakasi in the case of those in Nairobi.

  1. Water balloon or water gun fight

Have any spare water balloons sitting around in a drawer? Fill them up with water and give them a toss! Get a few of those toy water guns you usually ignore while on the streets.

This is a great way to cool off on a hot day and give everyone in the family a great excuse to run around in the yard. Take a bunch of them, fill them all up and put them in a pair of laundry baskets, then have a water balloon war.

  1. Park Camping

Camp in a park you can access that offers this service. It’s usually really cheap to camp and it gives you tons of opportunity like going fishing, wander trails or even the many other activities that parks have to offer. One of such parks in Nairobi is Jamhuri park camp in Jamhuri next to the show ground

  1. Beach visits

There are a number of beaches available around if you stay somewhere around the lake or the ocean. Beaches can provide many opportunities for fun, from building sand castles to enjoying the cool water or playing beach volleyball. This isn’t just fun for the kids, of course.

  1. Play hide and seek

It’s such a simple game, with simple rules easy to understand. One person covers their eyes and counts to twenty aloud while the other players hide. The seeker then looks for all the hiding participants until everyone is found.


More activities may include but not restrict to the below

  1. Make mazes or puzzles for other family members to solve
  2. Practice with musical instruments and play a song
  3. Learn a magic trick
  4. Do some volunteer work.
  5. Find unwanted things around your home and donate them to charity
  6. Perform a play
  7. Learn how to make good shadow puppets
  8. Make some simple origami creations, like a crane or a frog
  9. Have a daily “sustained silent reading” period
  10. Visit a children’s home and take part in the activities

It’s likely that some of the items on this list might not appeal to you and that’s completely expected, as every family is a little different from the other, make appropriate adjustments to best fit your setup.

The key is to find five or ten activities your family can engage in that everyone will enjoy, if it’s a free activity, it means you’ll be sparing your wallet some unnecessary “money diarrhea” paying for everything you came across in the name of buying some quality with the children, which I believe is good for everyone!

Have yourself happy fun family times!



Frank Odhiambo

Mind grid Perspectives


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