Keeping the kids occupied on a budget

4min read

Sometimes it can be hard to find ways to keep your children busy, especially when you feel that these things cost a lot of money. There are ways to keep the kids occupied that don’t have to cost much- if anything at all! And it is important to remember that it is just spending time with your children that is the most important thing, and what they will remember.

Key Points:

  • Find things that you already have at home that your children can use to keep busy, rather than feeling that you have to buy new things all the time
  • If you are spending money, bear in mind charity shops, looking for discounts and vouchers and using local children’s centres
  • Sometimes you want to get out the house with your children, so even through all the seasons, remember the saying- there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing

Playing indoors

If your children enjoy arts and crafts, keep some cardboard boxes back before putting them in your recycling, these can be used to make anything your child imagines! Painting, drawing or using playdoh can also keep the kids busy. Have a look in the kitchen cupboards and enjoy some cooking or baking with your children, remember it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Board games and puzzles are a good way to keep children occupied, and if you need some new ones, these can often be picked up in charity shops for much cheaper than buying new. If your children enjoy teddies, why not bring them downstairs for a teddy bear picnic? Reading together is also a lovely, free way to spend quality time with your child, you can snuggle up on the sofa with a book or a children’s film with some snacks.

Playing outdoors

Sometimes you want to get the kids outside and it is always good to get some fresh air. Going for a simple walk can really break up the day and children may enjoy going to your local park, woods or maybe even the seafront if you live near one. If they have a bike or a scooter, make use of this by taking it with you.

If you want to keep the activity going for longer, why not play a game such as ‘eye spy’ whilst you’re out, or older children might enjoy doing a scavenger hunt, which you can make yourself or find one that you can download online. You can collect leaves and twigs to take home and help the children make autumnal pictures with lots of glue. If you have some outside space or a garden, maybe you can make a homemade camp with sheets and cushions, this will keep the kids occupied for hours. 

Out in the community

Local libraries are a great place to visit with children, they are free to access, and you can spend some time there, or take a book home. Children’s centres often have activities for under 5’s, keep an eye out for these.  For older children, it is worth seeing if their schools run any clubs or sporting activities as these may be free or more affordable.  Sometimes local churches also put on activities for families and children, again these are usually free or for small donation, perhaps have a look on social media to see what is going on locally to you.

Our top tips

  • Keep in mind that children don’t need a lot of money spent on them to keep busy
  • Use what you have around you, both at home and in your local area
  • Check social media to see what your local area offers in the way of free, or cheaper activities

Parenting on a budget

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us via our live chat service, email us at or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.

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