Kids can have fun virtually anywhere there is the atmosphere for it. A positive happy environment is generally all that is needed to get a child smiling.
I grew up in a rural area so when I was young one of our family's most popular sources of entertainment was a trip to a local lake for either a day visit or an over night camping trip.
Most kids today would be just as happy out in the backyard with a water hose, a blow up pool, or a slip and slide.
Let them pitch a tent or blanket fort either indoors or out and they are ecstatic. Kids are very easy to please. Just take away the stress, give them a great big smile and they are happy. If you act like a kid alongside them then you will have made their day complete.
In winter a sled or pair of snowshoes can keep a kid happy for hours. Snow is one of a child's greatest pleasures. Building a fort or building a snowman are activities which for a child are timeless. Having fun is easy when you are young.
A Tight Budget can be Stressful - Kids Don't Need That Adult Stuff
I grew up in a family of eight and we were pretty poor. I can remember mom and dad fighting over money on a pretty much constant basis but it was hard for me to view us as poor. I really didn't see what all the fuss was about. There was always milk in the fridge, produce from our garden, meat that dad brought home from his hunting or fishing trips, and home baked bread and cookies courtesy of my mom.
I remember my dad coming home from work with 5 packages of strawberry gum in his pocket. He always had one treat for each child and the taste of that sweet simple pleasure will be forever on my lips and in my mind. I can almost smell the sharp tangy crispness as I think back to being that child as she unwraps the first piece of gum from the sweet smelling pink wrapped package.
My dad had grown up poor and he made sure that we didn't undergo the abject poverty that he endured. We picked bottles and he saved those pennies in a jar for us to have our special treats.
They say that money can't buy happiness but I don't really believe that saying is true. A cold ice cream cone on a hot day, a brand new comic book in my hands, and smelling the enticing aroma of fresh popcorn at our local cinema proved that to me. Our treats were not expensive but they didn't have to be. Each was special in its own way.
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It Really Does Not Cost all That Much to Make a Kid Happy
There are many small luxuries that really don't cost much. A home baked cookie, getting to stay up late to watch a movie, having supper outdoors rather than indoors. To a kid a little laughter and a positive attitude can make most things fun.
When it came to affording the little treats that did cost money I had something in my life that most poor kids don't have. I had a dad who didn't want his children to have to endure what it felt like to be poor. He made sure that us six kids always managed to have the special little extras that are the difference between existing and really truly living life.
My dad often worked two jobs, picked bottles, went fishing and hunting for our food, or did extra neighborhood tasks to provide the money needed to insure that we had the opportunity to enjoy the little luxuries of life.
We couldn't afford a popsicle from the musical truck when it went slowly past us on our shopping trips but dad would take us down to the local store and buy each of us a popsicle from there. They were less expensive and he could fit that treat into our budget.
Somehow there seemed to be enough money for us to enjoy ice cream cones, chocolate bars, popcorn at the movie theater, and the wonderful taste of sweet smelling strawberry gum.
My dad always managed to find that little extra money to purchase us a special treat and those little luxuries were the difference between us being poor and our believing that we were poor. Of course there wasn't always extra cash but there were plenty of activities we participated in that didn't cost us anything.
My dad played the guitar and he would often sit on the back step and play for us as the other neighborhood kids would gather around to listen. We would sing along as he played songs that he knew us kids could enjoy. Camping, hot dog roasts, swimming, or trips simply exploring old country roads. We were beyond rich in the simple pleasures he found for us to enjoy.
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Kid activities that are great at any time of the year:
It's Amazing how Much Pleasure a Dollar can Buy
I was very fortunate in that I had a dad who knew the importance of little luxuries. He had a grade 7 education so his earning potential was not great but he had grown up in poverty and he refused to allow his kids to feel the affects of child poverty. He was a big kid at heart and he liked nothing better than to find a fun way to shake off his stress.
I knew we were poor because my mom often said we were but I don't think that myself or my siblings really knew what poverty was. My mom would cry that we were going to lose our house or car to the bank but I just didn't really believe that we could be that poor.
We always had milk, we always had food, and we always owned our own home (although I do remember one home being my uncle's garage that dad revamped into a house lol). The above picture shows the old converted garage behind us kids as we played in our yard.
I remember us living in the city when I was very young but for the majority of our lives we lived in a rural area. In the country we had a garden and generally also the benefit of a few chickens, pigs, and cows.
My parents insured that we always had food to eat. My dad hunted and fished for the bulk of the meat that went onto our table. My mom baked our bread, cakes, and cookies, and I remember picking buckets of berries each year that mom then made into pies and jam. We were never hungry.
It is all Relative to the Available Dollars in Your Budget
I guess that little philosophical quote about money not being able to buy happiness is all relative to where your budget is sitting at. Anyone who has ever not had the means to make ends meet knows that money really can buy happiness.
To acquire extra spending money my dad would walk the sides of the road with us kids as we picked bottles together. We really didn't think of this frequent chore as work because we got to spend time with our dad. He always laughed and joked and made the task fun.
My mom was embarrassed but to myself and my siblings it was a fun game to hunt out the bottles and cans. It was never embarrassing to us and especially when we saw the dollar bills and coins that were later handed over to my dad. The monetary rewards always came back to us in ice cream cones, popsicles, and money for movies at the local cinema. We may have been poor but we really didn't believe it.
Wouldn't it be Nice if Money Did Grow on Trees?
Did you know that there is a true to life money tree? The money plant is often given as a gift of good luck to people beginning a new phase of their life.
It is believed that the plant received its name in Taiwan. Legend is that a poor farmer prayed to have his financial woes eased. Shortly after he discovered a plant he had never seen before. He dug it up, took it home, and cared for it.
As the plant grew and matured he sold the new shoots as well as the nuts and seeds so that others could also have the unusual plant. This income eased his financial worries and the plant became known as the money tree.
Even if money really does not grow on trees you can have your very own lucky money tree. It is a pretty little good luck charm that many people feel happy to have in their home.
Poverty is Tough but a Positive Attitude Helps Tremendously
If you think that money can't buy happiness ask any child who knows what an empty stomach feels like or a child who gets teased in school because they don't have the things the other children do. When a single mom is wiping tables at a diner and worrying about her child who is home alone ask her if she thinks that money can't buy happiness.
Sometimes money really can buy happiness. It does not take much but that little bit can be the difference between existing and truly living.
"They have never been poor - they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas." It is a line in the song "I Will Buy You a New Life" by Everlife and it sends chills down my spine each time I hear it. Those words say it all.
Then I think back to my life as a kid. My dad taught me many lessons but the most important was to be happy and optimistic. I have had some dire financial periods in my life but I managed to get us through them. Divorce made me a single parent, disability made it difficult for me to be viably employed, but we got through the rough times. My greatest reward came the day my grown daughter said, " I believed in Santa Clause for so long because I knew that we were too poor to afford the amount of gifts that we always had under our Christmas tree." The lessons learned from my dad and mom helped.
Found pennies were squirreled away and gifts bought on clearance and then tucked away for Christmas or birthdays. I shopped the local thrift stores and garage sales for clothing, household items, and gifts in good condition. I made crafts, baked, and found low cost entertainment for us to participate in. We got by a little differently than my parents did but we got by.
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