I love anything with the words “no spend” in the title!
I’m trying to take my family on a journey to financial freedom and designing the life we want. It never fails however, that just when we’re on a roll, something comes up! A no spend weekend can be a financial detox from a blown budget week or a way to accelerate your savings if you’re already killing it!
For me, enjoying life without spending money is like bottomless mimosas with no hangover!
Here are real examples of activities from my no spend weekends with my 2-year-old daughter, Suzie. I hope some of these are helpful as you plan your own no spend weekend and achieve your financial goals! (The key is to plan!)
My Top 10:
1. Magnets and 2 cookie sheets
My daughter loves playing with alphabet fridge magnets, but I’m not a huge fan of being confined to the kitchen while we play with them. Also, being 8 months pregnant, I’m not a fan of sitting on the floor right now!
Taking a cookie sheet each, we can set up our magnet studio anywhere. I like using two cookie sheets because having a toddler means sometimes there is a tantrum I can’t quite understand. It has been helpful to have a clean cookie sheet to start over and try and understand what her magnet master plan is.
2. Books and puzzles, as many as you’ve got!
The best way I’ve found to spend more than 10 minutes on books and puzzles, is to give my toddler choices. I don’t mean walking over to her toy bin or bookshelf and asking her to pick one, I mean putting them throughout the house in difference rooms and in difference places (kitchen table, couch, bed, floor, mom & dad’s room, etc.).
The treasure hunt aspect and the fact that I let my daughter guide the activity means it lasts much longer! It’s right around 2 books and 3 puzzles that I feel like mom of the year.
3. Playdough and/or coloring
Honestly, these activities aren’t my favorite. I feel like they require helicopter supervision of my daughter will eat the playdough or walk towards the walls with a crayon. She hasn’t actually done either of these things, yet, but I did as a child, so I know she has it in her!
None the less, these are activities she loves and I like making sure there are multiple creative outlets in our no-spend activities.
4. Toy bin on the patio/deck/grass
I take my daughter’s toy bin outside (blocks, coloring supplies, puzzles, Mr. Potato Head, etc.) and it’s literally the same activity as we could do inside, but so much better because we’re getting fresh air.
I usually put a towel under the toy bin and a towel or sheet for her to play on. This keeps her pretty cloth toy bin from getting dirty and any ants from spoiling the fun.
I took a break from writing today and this is exactly what we did for over an hour while we chatted with my sister on speaker phone. I checked the box with outdoor activity and felt like we were winning the weekend.
5. Go for a walk, to the community pool, park, etc.
We’re fortunate to live in a subdivision with a playground and pool. The playground is for kids much older than my daughter, but with my help she can go down the slides and get from one side to the other. This has been more difficult lately as I near my due date, but soon I’ll be able to climb back up there with her.
6. Dance party, or should I say par-tay!
This is one of those activities that I would previously do on my own when completely alone at home. It’s nice that my daughter also enjoys dancing and singing, so now I can do it any time and my husband doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy.
It’s parenting gold when my daughter is in the mood for music that isn’t nursery rhymes or baby shark. Sometimes we’re grooving to Motown or today’s country and we both feel like super stars.
7. Movie night
My husband loves sharing his favorite childhood movies with our daughter. It’s fun to grab a blanket, snacks, and turn the living room into a theater to watch a Disney movie. This is usually my queue to sneak away and get some laundry done or have some me-time while they enjoy some time together.
I highly recommend finding an activity that your husband enjoys and you can either be a passive participant or if you’re like me, use it as an opportunity to do something that you want. Having my own hobbies is very important to me, which is why I’m writing this at 4:45am on a Wednesday before anyone in the house is awake!
8. Luxury pampering – I call this “Suzie Spa Day!”
I’ve called it this since we first brought her home from the hospital and I gave her a bath. I was so nervous the first time that I talked in soothing voices the entire time about how this was Suzie Spa Day. I probably sounded insane back then.
Baths are part of our week-night routine, but they’re typically just a brief activity in our busy schedule. It’s nice on the weekends to fill up the tub, put in all her toys, and let her splash around as long as she likes. I can extend this by reading to her or playing music.
We then make sure our nails are clipped, our hair is brushed, and finish by applying scented baby lotion and the comfiest pajamas we own. We did this both Saturday and Sunday this week because my daughter was also sick. I can tell she feels so much better after being clean and comfortable.
9. Edible fun!
No spend weekends are a great opportunity to raid your pantry. Do you have any foods your kiddo hasn’t tried yet? You just never know what a toddler will actually eat! Or is there a tried and true favorite in there that can bring smiles and delight?
Get your kiddo involved in cooking/baking, or create a sampler of new foods (pickles, avocado toast, mix up your cereals, smores).
In March I checked the fridge and we had a roll of sugar cookie dough. It’s the kind that was already made that you’re supposed to roll into 1-inch balls and bake. Instead, we made it a fun activity! We grabbed all the cookie cutters in the house, and even cleaned and used the playdough shapes to make an assortment of cookies. We ended up with bunnies, Christmas trees, gingerbread men, and tiny dog bones. We finished it up with some frosting and sprinkles (pink from her birthday, green and red from Christmas, etc.).
Tip: Be realistic with your kiddos abilities and patience to help you in the kitchen. Sometimes my daughter just wanted to hold the rolling pin, other times she whined over a shape. She got more than a little impatient while they baked and cooled, and we had to take a bath after frosting and eating. I had to reconcile my pretty visions of activities with kids with reality not long ago, and I’m happier for it! You would be too!
10. Free community activities
Facebook has an “events” menu option that shows you activities going on in your area. We have used the events page many times to find activities. Here are some recent free family ones:
- Free petting zoo at the library
- Free book reading at the library
- Free pop-up toddler event at the museum
- Free outdoor movies downtown
- Craft activities at Home Depot
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.” – Abigail Van Buren
As if you needed any additional incentive for a no-spend weekend, but there it is!
What is your favorite family-friendly no-spend activity? I’d especially love ideas relevant for kids of multiple ages because we’ll have baby #2 here shortly!