Family Day with no money: A survival guide

Small kids, long weekend, no money – what are the options? Here are a few things that don’t cost anything (except maybe bus fare!)

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If you live in Ontario, Saskatchewan or Alberta, you’ve got Monday off in honour of Family Day. For us, that means three days to focus on fun with our three-year old son and eighteen-month old daughter. Thing is, the fun has to be budget-friendly — last time I checked we had exactly ZERO in the budget to spend on activities this weekend. So it’s either going to be a really long weekend (not in a good way) or I’m going to have to find free ways to have fun. This Family Day, here are a few things we’re going to try that don’t cost anything (except maybe bus fare!): 

A treasure hunt: It’s not Easter yet, but we’re planning to hide a few surprises around the house that the kids can hunt for. Just little things we already have like juice boxes, pennies, cards and whatever other novelties we can dig up. For older kids you can get more creative – make a treasure map and have them follow it. 

Take the subway: Since I take the subway and streetcar all the time, I take it for granted that my kids actually find adventure in public transportation (who knew?). Tomorrow I’m going to take them downtown for a walk to explore different part of the city. 

Cooking: My son loves to help us cook. For us, it’s a fine balance between keeping him out of trouble (knives, burners…) and nurturing his love of food prep. This weekend, we’ll try making our own pizza dough as a family and then we’ll prepare our own pizzas with different toppings. If you have older kids, add a movie and some popcorn and make it a pizza/movie night. 

Picnic lunch in the house: Okay, this might not go over quite as well with older kids, but our little guys think eating on the floor is pretty hilarious. We just put a blanket on the floor, fill a thermos with juice or water and put out all kinds of snacks and foods for lunch. Instant in-house picnic when it’s too cold to eat outside. 

Making play dough: My son’s done it at preschool but I’m going to give it a try here – a little flour, water, salt and food colouring. How hard can it be, right? At least it looks easy enough in this video

Family dance party: Cue the music, dim the lights and get down. It’s also a great way to share your favourite music with your kids (it doesn’t always have to be Baby Beluga, right?). Our current dance party faves include Bob Marley, Van Halen and Earth Wind and Fire (lots of energy and good beats).