Pinching pennies these days? I know I am. I came up with some ideas for my fellow dads to help redirect our financial frustration. Let me know if any of this helps.
If You Have Boxes, You Can Be A Robot.
Okay, so you have a stack of boxes in the garage, right? Maybe they’re in the basement. Either way, fish them out when it’s your time to watch the kids. Instead of throwing down the cash to buy another toy or go to some guy singing silly songs on a guitar for 10 bucks a pop, chop holes in the boxes for arms and legs, marker up a robot face and feet, and let the kids have at it. Before you know it you will be a family of robots. I highly recommend going for a walk in a public place afterward. Prepare a series of phrases that the kids can say such as “Does not compute” or “Take me to your leader” if anyone says anything to you. Also, don’t forget to be sitting at the dinner table in the robot suits when your wife comes home. Act like nothing is out of the ordinary when your wife opens the door. Listen to the giggling echo inside the cardboard when your wife doesn’t quite know how to greet you.
Caution: This will not work with teenagers.
Blankets + Pillows = Forts.
Don’t underestimate the value of a good fort. Couch cushions, pillows, blankets, and random portions of sofas all make fine architecture for the most medieval imaginary castle, the most luxurious pirate ship, the wildest rainforest, or the most inhabitable cave. Be careful though, your kids may want to turn their new creation into their new bedroom. I highly recommend that play ends with a climactic demolition, hurricane, or tsunami.
Get out the get-dirty clothes. This will require a bath afterward. 1 cup corn starch + ¼ cup water + food coloring of your choice = slime city. Don’t let your kids eat it, but it’s fun to watch what happens once you give it to them. Involve them in the slime-making process and it gets evenbetter. Try it first and make sure the food coloring you use doesn’t stain their skin. Mom will probably be mad about that. Dads, make sure you wear your get-dirty clothes because you probably aren’t going to escape your little slimers for long.
Let me know if you get any laughs out of these ideas. I’ve found them to be cheap, good fun.
For more by Mack Dreyfuss see his articles on The Father Life Online Magazine. http://thefatherlife.com/mag/