Fall is here and at Frugal Family Times we want to celebrate the new stuff fall can bring to our days.
Fall is bonkers for busy in our world. Back to school, back to work, back to coaching, back to not being able to drink wine at 2 in the afternoon (Ed). It feels like it takes almost a month for us to get our legs under us again and when we do, we realize we kinda dig the autumn. Warm days for enjoying, cool evenings for sleeping and an urgency to time; enjoy it while it is here because soon you will be scraping ice off your windshield.
Our list criteria:
- Free or nearly free,
- Fun for a broad range of ages (parents and grandparents included), and
- Simple enough to do without tonnes of planning.
1. Backyard Fires
Fall usually means it is cool enough to enjoy backyard fire pits again (check your local fire regulations first) – simple camp meals like hot dogs (made into spiders) and marshmallows (made into smores) can be a lot of fun even when you are not at camp. Unlike summer, it's actually cold and dark enough now to really enjoy this. And now, since we fixed our rusty outdoor fireplace (how-to here), we'll be doing this so much more!
2. "Park Crawls"
Remember the Pub Crawls from your pre-parenting days? This is our G-rated version (i.e. minus the booze and the pubs - ok - we admit, this is a stretch on that theme.) Our Park Crawls are this: as a family we ride our bikes to a whole bunch of neighbourhood parks, play a few minutes at each one and then head to the next. We try and see how many we get to, or if we can discover a new one. We then talk about our favourites and why. We ask the kids, "If you made your ultimate park, which features would it have?".
(We're also going to keep working on our Giver Park Quest. That's been superfun for us!)
3. “Making Potions”
Did you do this as a kid? Robin did, but it wasn't potions, it was a "Perfume Company" or "Birdseed Factory". Basically, it's the same end-product: crushed up organic matter from the yard. We make potions by collecting dead flowers and leaves and mashing them up with water. We have a thrift store mortar and pestle to add to the Hogwarts-y feel. Then we create the uses: What does the potion do? What funny name does it have? What spell do you have to say to make it work?
Tenting is another activity that doesn't have to be limited to summer. (Maybe it should be?) Get the warm sleeping bags and PJs out and extend your summer. Campfires are a great addition to this one. The beauty is, if you do it in the backyard, you can go back inside if it's less fun than expected.
5. "Buried Treasure"
Find buried treasure in the sandbox. Just bury some old forgotten toys or other bibs'n bobs and see if the kids can find it all. (We built a lid for our sandbox this year, so cat poop is no longer an unwelcome surprise.)
Old standbys still hold up after all these years:
- Leaf rubbings with tracing paper and crayons
- Jumping in leaf piles
- Preserving leaves between wax paper and the pages of your biggest book (there's a purpose for those old textbooks you are still holding onto!)
- Of course, follow these up with hot chocolate.
7. Preserving Food
Make juice or 'can'. If you have access to a fruit tree in your yard or from a farmers market, making you own fruit creations can be fun. We have a grapevine and it's become a tradition for the kids to pick and crush the grapes to make their own concord grape juice. We've done this with some neighbourhood kids and heard, “I didn't know you could MAKE grape juice!"
We've also put the kids to work helping us with making salsa (you can find the recipe here). We have a hand cranked type of food processor that they find amusing (for awhile anyways).
We've been missing going on hikes in the woods from our pre-kids days. Our kids are just now learning to enjoy them and we're often poking around in the woods on the weekends. The key seems to be finding the right trail (not too long and with a payoff like caves at the end), bringing snacks and water bottles. We'd screwed up our past attempts at family hikes by forgetting any (or all) of those keys.
9. Get your Glow On
Glow bracelets are always fun. (Now that it gets dark earlier, enjoying the night no longer cuts into your kid-free-after-bedtime-fun.) Try playing hide and seek in the dusk, wearing glow bracelets adds an extra element.
We need more ideas! What would you add to the list?