20 Cost-Effective Ways to Keep Your Child Occupied

20 Cost-Effective Ways to Keep Your Child Occupied

Children need constant entertainment to keep their brains working and your stress levels down, and though it seems impossible, there are actually all kinds of ways to keep them occupied—all without a huge expense. Here are 20 simple, cost-effective ways to keep your kids entertained.   

1. Storytime

A simple way to occupy your child is with a good book—whether it’s one of your childhood favorites or one of theirs, books help you bond and give your child something to focus on. You can also have them read to improve their comprehension.

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2. Baking

Kids don’t need more than a box of brownie mix to have fun in the kitchen. The most important thing for them is to spend time with you, so pick out a box from the store and make it at home. The good news is that some premade mixes only require water and eggs, so cleanup is hassle-free, too. 

Annie-Spratt-Uyemagaroly-UnsplashPhoto by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

3. A Picnic

What’s better than some time in the sun? Pack a simple lunch and take your adventure outside—with so much to focus on outdoors, your child has a great activity to distract them. On the other hand, if your child isn’t quite ready for public picnics, you can also take it to your backyard for a change of scenery. 

Jennie-Clavel-G0Zoydfvuxq-UnsplashPhoto by Jennie Clavel on Unsplash

4. Board Games

Regardless of how old your child is, board games exist for their age group. They’re good investments for hours of entertainment and some can even be played solo. Board games are also terrific for siblings.  

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5. Movies

Snuggle in with your child and watch a movie together (hopefully it’s not one you’ve seen a thousand times). Even if you don’t have an extensive at-home collection, lots of free streaming apps offer affordable entertainment.

Kevin-Woblick-439Wmdedhva-UnsplashPhoto by Kevin Woblick on Unsplash

6. Puzzles

Puzzles do wonders for your child—they improve fine motor skills and build problem-solving, and even young kids can enjoy ones for their age range. They can also take some time to complete, which helps keep children occupied. 

Debby-Hudson-Mkik54Vvtas-UnsplashPhoto by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

7. DIY Crafts

An endless number of DIY crafts exist online, and it isn’t hard to find the perfect one for your child. The great news is that dozens of said crafts come cheap, too, meaning you don’t have to spend half a paycheck on art supplies. 

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8. Gardening

With summer fast approaching, now’s the time to recruit your children in the garden. You can give them basic tasks like planting seeds, manning the watering can, or picking something you’d like to grow together. 

Filip-Urban-Ffj8Qa0Vqu0-UnsplashPhoto by Filip Urban on Unsplash

9. Nature Walks

There’s no shortage of beauty on a nature walk, which makes them an all-time favorite pastime for kids. Get out there and explore all Mother Nature has to offer—visit kid-friendly trails or encourage your child to journal what they see.

Sue-Zeng-8Swppqfeor4-UnsplashPhoto by Sue Zeng on Unsplash

10. Library Visits 

The library has all kinds of free entertainment from books and video games to computer time and movie rentals. They also frequently offer classes or admission passes to local hotspots around your neighborhood. 

Eliott-Reyna-Kct-7Cirbew-UnsplashPhoto by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash


11. Build a Fort

We’ve all heard that kids would rather play with the box than the toy, so why not put that recycling to good use? Box forts, blanket forts, or even pillow forts are all terrific ways to keep children occupied and entertained.

Vitolda-Klein-E31Oylefpts-UnsplashPhoto by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

12. Drawing

At the end of the day, nothing beats good old-fashioned paper. Your child’s imagination can run wild with a simple sheet of copy paper and some crayons—you don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest supplies to get their juices flowing.

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13. Play Dates

Kids need socialization as much as they need fun, and a good way to combine both is with a play date. Chances are you’ve befriended other parents, so give them a call and see if they’d like to meet up. You can then put your heads together for play date ideas that tucker out all the kids!

Artem-Kniaz-Dqgmhzeio7G-UnsplashPhoto by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

14. Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk gets kids outside and encourages their artistic side. Kids can make hopscotch boards, draw things they see in nature, or create sidewalk games for passersby.  

Jess-Zoerb-Fuopj0Szaca-UnsplashPhoto by Jess Zoerb on Unsplash

15. Bike Rides

Plenty of family-friendly bike trails allow you and your kids to explore safe paths and get out in the sun. Have a look at which ones are available in your neighborhood and make a day of it!

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16. Backyard Camping

Camping can be a bit of a hassle—between driving to the site, endless bugs, and packing a ton of supplies, it makes sense to avoid the headache altogether. But you can still go camping with the kids by pitching a tent in the backyard! You get all the fun of the outdoors and countless s’mores without all the travel. 

Omar-Lopez-2Ll-0Eal1Kk-UnsplashPhoto by Omar Lopez on Unsplash


17. Learn Something New

YouTube videos and library classes can teach you both something new, which is a great way to bond and stay occupied. Learn how to draw something new. Watch a video about outer space. Take a crafting class. The possibilities are endless!

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18. Scavenger Hunt

Whether you’re on a nature walk or camping in the backyard, a scavenger hunt amplifies the fun for kids. Hide treasures around the area to get their brains working and ensure they’re tired come bedtime. 

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19. Discount Days

Libraries often have discounted passes for art galleries, museums, or zoos. If you’re on a budget, speak with a librarian to learn when these passes become available, and don’t wait to nab the deal.

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20. Fly Kites

No, seriously! Flying kites is a lost art, and it’s one that’s just as affordable as it is fun. Simple kites are blessedly inexpensive and can entertain children for hours on a good day—head to the park and get that energy out.  

Rene-Vincit-Atb3Soqjshg-UnsplashPhoto by Rene Vincit on Unsplash