Being a WAHM aka work-at-home mom is not easy. Being a frugal WAHM is even more challenging, especially with the holidays in full swings and stores overflowing with toys and games, literally, screaming, “Pick me!”. As we work as a family towards meeting our financial goals, I’m grateful to guest author Shelly from Awake Parent, who once again, shares her expertise as she lists 8 (eight!) super-fun and totally FREE gifts for the most special people in our lives – our kids.
Over to Shelly:
1) Free Kids’ Workshops at Home Depot
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but Home Depot offers free workshops for kids teaching them how to build a toy or craft on the first Saturday of every month. One of my favorite things about these workshops is how safety conscious the teachers are. All children are required to wear safety goggles and other gear to make sure they’re using tools properly and safely. Parents must attend with their children. For ages 5–12
2) A Cardboard Box Playhouse/Car/Boat
It’s incredible what you can make a cardboard box into. Depending on it’s size you can make a car, boat, house, dollhouse, doll or stuffed animal bed, or whatever you and your child can imagine! You’ll need to do any cutting, but I recommend letting kids help design and create the new toy. Then after it’s constructed, invite them to decorate it with paint, collage, fabric, or whatever craft materials you have around the house. Voila! A new toy that will get tons of use and didn’t cost a dime. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
3) Toddler Sink or Water Table
Toddlers love to do what big people do, but often they have trouble doing things like climbing up on to stools, reaching and turning on/off the water etc. But you can create a perfect toddler sink by placing a large metal bowl or pot on a low chair or table, filling it with an inch or two of warm water, and providing a small piece of soap.
Toddlers will delight in being able to wash their own hands. All you have to do is be nearby with a towel at the ready and soon you’ll have a toddler who’s an independent hand washing pro! My daughter actually WANTS to wash her hands several times throughout the day, now that we have a “sink” she can use independently.
Note from Prerna: I can VOUCH for this. My daughter LOVES this!
Another version of this is a water table activity for your child. All you need is a shallow plastic bin, a couple of measuring cups, and a bath toy! Be sure to put a towel underneath to catch any drips and have them wear a smock or raincoat to keep clothes dry. Here’s ours!
4) Popsicle Stick Puzzles
I found this idea on Pinterest. Just take a few large popsicle sticks (you already have them, right?) lay them out, glue a photo to them, let dry, and then cut apart with a craft knife. My two year old loves these puzzles of our family photos! She does find it easier to put them together in a box lid so she can line them up properly by pushing them against the sides.
5) Home Made Playdough= A Frugal WAHM’s Best Friend
This is fun and easy to make with ingredients you already have at home. Here’s a play dough recipe that Prerna has and uses with her daughter. Put them into cute little boxes with lids, wrap them up and hey, fantastic, fun and FREE stocking stuffers!
6) Dough Ornaments are Free and Fun Gifts to Make and Give
When I was young my mom and I used to make dough ornaments together and decorate our tree with our new creations. We kept some of them for about 25 years! Sometimes we’d add color to the dough, and other times we’d bake them uncolored and paint them afterward.
7) Activity Cards for Fantastic, Free Play
Create a set of cards for your child with activities you’ll do with them. You can have: read a story, go for a walk, a trip to the park, stay up 15 min. late, breakfast for dinner, Simon says, 20 min. of yoga, free day at the museum, invite 3 friends over to play, don’t have to make your bed, etc. They get to choose one card per day (or week) for the month!
8) Hide Forgotten Toys Away
Most of our kids have far too many toys cluttering up their bedrooms so take a moment when the kids are gone to stash away some toys that haven’t gotten much play lately. Keep them out of sight for a month or two and when you bring them out again your kids will be as excited as if they were new! Do this on a semi-regular basis to keep the clutter down and their interest up. Warning: be sure these are toys that haven’t been chosen in a while.
Are YOU a frugal work-at-home mom? What fun, free gifts will YOU be giving your kids this season?
About the Author: Shelly Birger Phillips is passionate about being absolutely the best mom she can be and supporting other parents to do the same. With an extensive knowledge of child development and parenting theory as well as tons of hands-on experience as a preschool teacher, nanny and now as a mother herself, she offers Skype video parent coaching to parents all over the world using a connection-based conscious parenting approach. Shelly also has a free weekly blog about conscious parenting, a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AwakeParent She’s on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/awakeshelly and she loves Pinterest (maybe a little bit too much) at http://pinterest.com/awakeshelly/
Photo Credit: one tiny spark