Having Fun Without Spending Money
Beliefs shape reality more than reality shapes beliefs. If you doubt this, watch one hour of television and snap your fingers every time someone is overtly or covertly selling you on the idea of acquiring objects or status. You'll find that advertisers and television shows are always bombarding you with images of lifestyles you are supposed to desire so deeply that you'll spend your last dime on them.
If you doubt their power, think back to the 1980s when mullets, skin-tight leggings covered by blousy tops, and frightfully ostentatious, rhinestone-covered handbags were in vogue. What images are you being urged to desire today?
Purveyors of video games, television, movies, games, and toys bombard your children daily in attempts to convince them that it takes money to buy things to make you happy. It's up to you as a responsible single mother to show them otherwise.
All you have to do is survey your local library to find a variety of books to stimulate fabulous, low-cost to zero-cost ideas. Use these ideas for activities that will spare your budget and inspire your children's creativity.
In 101 Things Every Kid Should Do Growing Up, for example, the author suggests low-budget activities like these:
Taking a late-night “pajama ride” to get ice cream cones (McDonald's frozen yogurt cones are slightly more than $1 and delicious)
Spending a sunny day decorating the driveway using colored chalk
Creating a scrapbook (no fancy books or decorations required, use everyday items or have children write a memory and draw their own picture to illustrate it)
Camping in the back yard (use a sheet instead of a tent, tell spooky stories, roast hot dogs over a barbeque)
Spending a night star-gazing (depending upon their age, have your children research constellations; if they're small, thrill them with stories about the sun, the moon, stars, and constellations)
The American Psychological Association states that people who buy into the consumer culture reported lowered feelings of personal well-being. Individuals who say that goals for money, image, and popularity are “relatively important” to them also reported less satisfaction in life, fewer experiences of pleasant emotions, and more depression and anxiety.
Create a creativity box or basket. Toss in paints, scissors, decoupage paste, buttons, paints, rhinestones, beads, glitter, confetti, pressed leaves or flowers, magazines, ribbons, string, wrapping paper, shells, unwanted promotional CDs, broken toy bits, keys, and other odds and ends.
On rainy days — or broke days — try some of the following activities:
Buy an inexpensive birdhouse (check your local hobby store) or use a small box to create a birdhouse and then paint or decoupage.
Decoupage magazine art onto poster board to create personal collages.
Use old keys to make a wind chime.
Paint or paste images onto those unwanted promotional CDs and use them to create a mobile.
Spend the day weaving string friendship bracelets. String a few beads on or weave in ribbons for variety.
Buy blank note cards or stationery from the hobby store's dirt-cheap bin (or at a dollar store) and teach your children the value and beauty of handmade gifts, note cards, and gift tags by letting them create some for their friends and family.
You can also spend time with your children playing hopscotch, fielding baseballs, creating treasure maps, stacking cards, inventing words, or making finger puppets. In other words, when it comes to entertaining, educating, and enriching your children, use your imagination instead of your wallet.