Great Ideas For You and Your Kids

I had the privilege of having a “Girl’s Day Out” with my daughter’s this week. We were invited to attend “Breakfast with Elmo” at Busch Gardens, and I decided that since we were going to make the effort of going out, that we would go and make a day of it. And it was indeed a day of fun!


Our day began at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay. Because “Breakfast with Elmo” was by “Invitation only”, we were directed to come in through the employee’s entrance, which took us directly under Sheikra, Busch Garden’s Tallest Roller Coaster, and one of the tallest roller coasters in the southeast USA.  It was really amazing to see it from that angle. We then parked and made our way to the outdoor pavilion where the event was being held.

Kids, toddlers and babies were everywhere. Although the morning air was chilly and brisk and it was windy out, nobody seemed to care. We were all about to meet Elmo in person and the kids were ecstatic. When the Sesame Street Characters came bounding into the pavilion, shouts of excitement sounded from everywhere. I watched our 2 year old to see how she would respond and she could only watch with amazement and wonder; she wasn’t sure what was going on. Then, when she realized that Elmo was in the room, she burst out with a shriek of joy. It truly was fun!

The announcer told us of the new addition to Busch Gardens, called the SESAME STREET “SAFARI OF FUN.” It will contain rides; play areas, dining with Elmo and water play areas that are safe and age appropriate for small children. As the mother of a toddler, I have to admit, I cannot wait for it to open. I have been a fan of Sesame Street for decades and am so excited that my own city will now have it’s very own SESAME STREET!

I think the best news came when the announcer said that Busch Gardens is now passing out FREE COMMEMORATIVE Busch Gardens Preschool Passes to kids 5 and under for 2010. I wanted all of you to know about it because it is an amazing money saver to families with small children. You can go to: to register for your passes. Print out your confirmation and then you can then pick up your tickets at the window. It really is an amazing offer.


Since our event was for breakfast only, we had the rest of the day to spend together. I admit, it is sometimes challenging to entertain kids who are 10 years apart because what will be fun for one girl will often be boring for the other girl. So, I was left having to think of something that would be fun for both girls. It was too cold to go to the park, so I had to think of something to do indoors. Hhmmmm…

I decided to take the girls to a nearby family entertainment center. They have food, indoor games, play areas and kid’s movies on big screens. It really is a cool place to hang out if you have a few hours. Admission is free, and you can choose how much money you want to spend based upon your own budget. I really didn’t have to spend any money on our Toddler because she was content to just climb on everything, whether it moved or not!


After that, we decided that it would be fun to go walk around the mall. The thing I love about that is that it is totally free and indoors. It’s great exercise for the whole family and you don’t have to spend a dime if you don’t want to. The girls were able to run (the older chasing the younger one! Lol) and Tori (our oldest) and I had a chance to talk and laugh. It really was a fun experience. I had my camera with me and took a lot of photos, which will serve as great memories in the years to come. We had so much fun just playing at the mall that I know we will do it again in the future. We didn’t even do any shopping! We just walked the entire perimeter of the mall, stopping at the play areas along the way. (Yes, we did stop to get an Aunt Annie’s Cinnamon/Sugar Pretzel and a Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate.)

I think it is important that we invest time with our kids. It rarely “just happens.” We have to make time for it. I loved having a Mommy/Daughter day with my girls and it’s nice to know that we don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it! Relationship building doesn’t have to include money; time and listening are the only costs required. It is well worth the investment!

Low -Cost Relationship Building Ideas

Go to your local library – most have events that happen every week. Some have small bookstores that fund the library and the used books are very inexpensive.

Go to a bookstore – you don’t have to buy anything and it is fun to look! Many bookstores have a “reading time” and other events for kids.

Walk around the mall – again, you don’t have to buy anything and it is great exercise!

Visit local playgrounds and parks.

Find the nature trails in your area – take your camera for pics of unique and interesting animals, bugs, leaves, plants and trees. Make a scrapbook of your finds!

Take your camera and drive around the town, taking pictures of your kids standing in front of locations of interest in your town. Blog about it!

Many larger cities have free movies in the summer on certain days before the theater opens. Check your local theaters around June for more information.

Volunteer serving a meal at a local homeless shelter (do with older children.)

Volunteer with a church group to visit local nursing homes.

Rainy-Day Fun

Make a tent in the living room and have a “camp-out.”

Play Board Games.

Make homemade cards to donate to a local children’s hospital.

Take a family favorite book and act it out, instead of reading it – take turns: have the kids read the book and the parents do the acting, and then switch.

Create “stations” around your house:

-a craft center (age appropriate)

-a reading center – take turns reading to each other

-snack station – you can create a fun snack that you normally don’t eat

-puzzle station

-Homemade Play Dough Recipe –

-2 cups baking soda

-1 1/2 cups water

-1 cup cornstarch

-Mix together until smooth. Gently boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick.  Remove from heat. Separate and add desired food coloring for variation. Spoon onto wax paper or a plate. Cool and enjoy!

Take a “serious” family photo dressed up in costumes. Make homemade cards and send them out to family and friends, including the photo.

Do a puzzle without looking at the picture on the box.

Do a puzzle and glue it together. Write the date on the back and hang it on the wall!

There are so many different things that you can do together as a family that are enjoyable and don’t cost a lot of money. Like I said, it’s just an investment of time and listening to your kids. What may seem like an insignificant activity could turn into a lifelong memory that your kids will treasure for the rest of their lives.