Low cost, spur-of-the-moment, all-ages-friendly, family activities for a change of scenery

My kids are spaced pretty far apart.  This wasn’t planned, but then again, not much in my life has been planned in advance :-).

Finding activities that are interesting for kids that are 15, 10, and 6 can be challenging, especially when autism is a factor and we have the grandparents along.  Here’s what works for us throughout the year:

  • Bowling.  I was surprised at how much my kids liked this.  In the summer our local bowling alleys have free games.  Since we can have bumpers, I bowl too!
  • Going out for ice cream / slushies/picnics.  Nothing like relaxing and eating together.
  • Short IMAX movies.  These are a treat.  We joined our local science museum and get a discount on IMAX tickets.  IMAX is very cool and the documentaries are not that long, perfect for everyone’s attention span.
  • Road trip! Road trip! I wish we could do this more often. We like places where we can walk around outside. In the spring we like going to the garden stores and picking seeds to plant. Yard sales are a big hit in the summer (and a motivator for doing chores, wink wink). Fall is a great time for going to corn mazes, fall festivals, and hay rides. Each Christmas we look forward to our annual trip to Rocky Ridge Christmas Magic, a walking trail Christmas light display.

Two key things we’ve had to keep in mind:

One place may have been a great fit before, but that could have changed.  The key things that made it great for us may be different or non-existent in the present. Or, one place that wasn’t a great fit may be wonderful fun for us now (i.e., bowling alley). Open minded research is important to our outings’ success.

Each family members’ needs is important.I encourage everyone to go where the parents will have fun, too, because when momma’s (papa’s) not happy, no one is happy! Parental patience must be intact for outings to work.

How do we do this?

We have had “family meetings” to discuss outings  so that we all understood the benefits and compromises of our decisions.  One of my kids absolutely hates temperature extremes.  He can’t stand the heat at the amusement park in July. So, we choose to go at the end of the day (many parks give discounts), during the off-season, or make sure we can hit some inside shows during the hot afternoon.   One of our kids has been an escape artist, so  corn mazes and yard sales were not be the right fit at that time,  but indoor playgrounds with locked doors  or pools with lifeguards were fine.

Family fun is indeed possible!  Make sure fun is on the agenda, and your family relationships will bloom.

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