January is loooong. Everybody’s on a diet, the weather is crap, the days are too short and the trees are as bare as most people’s bank accounts. Children don’t really understand why January’s so depressing for parents and they still want to ‘do’ things. I have children who always want to be out doing something. So I thought I’d share some of the fun things we like doing when we’re going stir crazy.
Use what’s around you
We are pretty lucky living where we do. We are nestled in between the English Channel and the South Downs, so we have different environments on our doorstep to have fun in. I realise that not everyone is in the same boat as us, so these ideas that are as broad as possible.
I wanted to only pick the fun things that we have done that haven’t cost any more than £5 for the whole activity. Because we all know that January is the only month that has 47,879 days in it. These ideas aren’t exclusive to January though. You can also tweak them for different seasons throughout the year quite easily.
I have grouped the ideas into 3 sections; fun things to do at home, fun things to do outside and fun things to do inside (but not at home).
Fun things to do at home
1. Write, film and edit your own short movie. Cost : FREE.
This could be a whole family activity, or you could challenge the children to write their own short movie. It can be filmed on a mobile phone or tablet. There are lots of free editing apps that you can use to add special effects, music and edit what you’ve filmed. You can find them on the App store or Play store.
If a movie isn’t your thing, what about creating an advert for a random product you already have in your home? We’ve done this a few times and it often has hilarious results. We have a little screening once all the videos are ready and have little awards for; funniest, informative, realistic and daft.
2. Den building. Cost : FREE.
Who doesn’t love den building? It’s so easy, and so much fun. All you need are 4 chairs, some big sheets or duvet covers and some pillows, cushions or blankets. Set the chairs in a big circle, then build a base using the blankets, pillows or cushions. Finally, hang the sheets or duvet covers over the top of the chairs to create the den. If you have any battery operated fairy lights, you can use clothes pegs to peg them onto the inside of the ‘roof’. My girls will happily play in there for hours, which is great for me, because it means they aren’t trashing the rest of the house.
3. Baking. Cost : (ingredients) < £5
Children spend a lot of time begging for snacks. So what’s more of a fun thing to do than get them to bake their own snacks?
You can use my best gingerbread recipe to make with kids for this if you want a simple child–friendly one. You don’t have to make gingerbread people, you can use any shaped cutters you already have. Decorate them with icing, sprinkles, or make patterns on the biscuits with forks or scraps of lace before baking.
Your house will smell amazing and the children will be happy. If you let the children weigh and measure stuff themselves, they’ll also be practicing maths without realising it. AND you’ll have a tasty snack to snuggle up with the kids and watch a movie with. Parenting win!
4. Painting. Cost : (paint) > £5
You don’t need a whole rainbow of colours to release your inner artists. Just a few colours that you can use to mix other colours with. We usually have; red, yellow, blue, black and white paint, because you can make pretty much every colour from them.
Once you have the paint, you can use it to do so much. Cut shapes out of old sponges or potatoes and use them to create a printed pattern. Paint your hands and use them to make a picture out of hand prints. If you happen to have any wallpaper offcuts laying around, you can paint a mural on it as a whole family. You can paint pebbles, sticks, paper plates or paper cups, leaves, even old or stained t shirts.
5. Board games. Cost : > £5
Ok, maybe not Monopoly if you have any rage quitters in the house! Unless you want to spend ages looking for all the little pieces on the floor.
But in all seriousness, board games are a great boredom buster. You can usually pick some up in a charity shop for a few quid if you don’t already have them. Or packs of cards are great too. Board games teach patience, taking turns skills, maths, strategic skills and can be a lot of fun.
Or, if you have a scrabble board or just some scrabble letters, you can use them to practice spelling or make sentences with. You can pick up packs of the letters in the craft sections of places like The Works or The Range.
Fun things to do outdoors
Even if the weather is cold, rainy and miserable, you can still find lots of fun things to do outdoors. As long as the kids have a coat and some wellies, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Not all outdoor fun has to be as crazy as our new year’s day outdoor swim!! Some of our more sensible, favourite outdoor things to do are:
1. Puddle jumping. Cost : FREE.
If there’s one thing you can count on in the UK, its rain. Lots and lots of rain. Whether its January or July, chances are the sky will leak. A lot. Take inspiration from everyone’s favourite pig
to hate, Peppa Pig. Put some wellies on, and have yourselves some muddy puddle jumping fun. See who can jump the highest. See who can make the biggest splash. Or see who can jump right over the puddle.
By the way, doing it as an adult is just as much fun as doing it as a child. But if you only have Wellibobs like me, be careful in the deeper puddles, or your feet will be swishing around in cold muddy water.
2. Walking in the woods. Cost : FREE.
We have a favourite little ‘forest’ that we love going to that’s fairly near us. Wellies and coats are the only accessories needed to have hours of fun. Woodlands are an amazing place to play hide and seek, or what’s the time Mr Wolf? There are so many fun things to do in a woodland.
- Take crayons and paper and make rubbings of the different barks.
- Collect as many leaves from different trees as you can.
- See how many different birds you can spot.
- Have a look for wild mushrooms and see where they like to grow.*
- Do a scavenger hunt. For things like twigs, pine cones, chestnuts, feathers etc.
- See if you can spot any signs of rabbits, squirrels or foxes.
- Use fallen branches to build a den.
- If it’s safe to do so, build a fire and toast marshmallows.
* Don’t touch wild mushrooms unless you are 100% sure what kind they are, as some are poisonous.
3. Take photos of toys doing fun things. Cost : FREE.*
If you have little figurines of favourite toys, or Lego people, barbie dolls etc, take them on an outdoor photoshoot. This could be in your garden, the local park, the beach, on a bus, anywhere really. Let the kids stage their toys, and use a camera or your phone to create their own toy story. If your children are old enough, let them take the photos themselves.
There are plenty of places that you can get photos printed really cheaply online. Once you have the photos, use them to create a little scrapbook telling the story of their day out.
Or get creative on an editing app and make a little movie or slideshow of their time out of the house.
*If you do end up printing some photos out, cost will vary depending on how many photos you print and where you print them.
4. Head to the beach. Cost : FREE.
If you are lucky enough to live near a beach, head down there to blow away some cobwebs. You can have a stone throwing competition, do a beach clean up, have a scavenger hunt, or just sit and listen to the waves snuggled up in something warm. We love going down to watch the sun set. Which is probably the only thing I like about winter. Watching sunsets in the middle of the afternoon is much better than late at night in the summer. It doesn’t interfere with bedtimes for a start!
5. Bubbles. Cost : > £3.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 3 or 83, bubbles are a lot of fun. You can pick up bubble mix pretty cheaply, or make your own from handsoap and a bit of water. You don’t have to use a little wand to blow the bubbles. Or you can cut up plastic bottles to make your own, use cheap bangles or even try a sieve. Make huge bubbles by using a hula hoop, or really little ones using straws.
Fun things to do inside
When the weather is too bad for wellies and coats, but you could still do with a change of scenery, what do you do? The truth is, there are loads of fun things to do around, but some of them are quite costly. Not always ideal when you’re on a tight budget or counting down to payday.
There are places and activities that you can do for free, that are indoors but are still fun. If you live in London, Edinburgh or any other major city, there are so many amazing museums that you can visit for nothing! And I am really
not at all jealous of you being able to do that!
1. Library time. Cost : FREE.
Libraries are a hive of fun things to do indoors these days. It’s not just about whispering and picking books to borrow anymore. You can borrow DVDs, Audiobooks, use the internet, and borrow toys. Some libraries put on events like baby rhyme time, knit and natter, exhibitions and lots of other activities. Libraries are still free to join, and many of them open at weekends. During school holidays, libraries put on activities and other special events, so it’s always worth checking what’s going on at your local one.
2. Visit a pet shop. Cost : FREE.
If you have an animal lover in the house, pet shops are a great place to go and visit. You can just go and look at the animals, or research how to look after a certain type pet. Some shops will even let your children handle the animals. You can find out about adopting a pet, or how to train or look after one you already have.
Pets at Home often run free workshops for children aged 5–11 years throughout the year. There aren’t any currently listed on their website, but they are usually held in the school holidays. Children get a free activity book, are shown how to handle animals safely and how to look after them responsibly. It’s definitely worth checking their site around the school holidays if you’re thinking about getting a pet in the future.
3. Take part in a free craft session. Cost : > £2 or FREE.
If you happen to live near a Hobbycraft, they run lots of free or very cheap events throughout the year in store. Activities include ceramic painting, Valentine’s Card making, slime making and loads more!
If this is the kind of thing your children would be interested in, you can click here to be taken to their events page to see what’s available in your local store.
4. Visit a museum or art gallery. Cost : FREE.
There are many museums and art galleries that have FREE admission in the UK. You could literally spend all day in one if you wanted to. If you do, take your own packed lunches and drinks with to save money. There’s a really good list of all the free ones across the UK on the MoneySaving Expert website. They are listed by area, so that should help you see what’s around where you are.
Museums are great places to go, especially if you have school aged children learning about particular topics. You can combine a fun family day out with a bit of extra learning on their subject. They will love impressing their teachers with tales of their visit and what they learnt. And, you all get to stay dry and warm.
Museums often have special events going on throughout the year, so it’s worth checking their websites before you visit.
Hopefully there is at least a couple of ideas on my list that you would be willing to try. And hopefully, whatever you do decide to do, doesn’t end up with you wondering why every family outing ends in tears. And why the tears are always your own.
This is not an AD post, nor am I sponsored by or endorsed by anybody. My views are completely my own based on my own experiences.