Ever since day one, my son, Jackson, liked to stay busy! He wasn’t the type of baby that was just content lounging around in the living room. Early on we discovered his love for the outdoors. “Outside” was one of his first words. He wakes up at 6AM pointing to the backyard begging me to go outside and play. Luckily I love to be outside almost as much as he does…
Because we spend so much time outdoors, we’ve had to get a little creative with what we do while staying on a low budget. Below is a list of our favorites that are completely FREE! Even if you’ve already thought of all of these, I think it’s helpful to have a reference list for those days when you’re too tired think. If you have any other ideas, I would LOVE to hear them in the comments!
Jackson loves to get dirty. Anytime I need to pull weeds, mow, water or plant, he loves to help. I’ve learned that if I’m doing something active or new, he enjoys watching me and trying to help. I love when I see him learn and experience things for the first time. It’s a win win!
- Play in ANY and ALL water
On a hot day Jackson loves to play with the water hose. I turn it on low and he has a blast spraying the plants, baby pool, and sometimes our dog (don’t worry, she loves it too). Head to your neighborhood pool or invest in a small baby pool for your backyard! Splash pads are a big hit too! We even enjoy the rain. Something about those puddles… Go to the beach or lake! We almost can’t go a day without playing in some kind of water.
- Do a workout
Sometimes I’ll lay a blanket out in the backyard, play some music, and do a quick workout. Jackson gets a kick out of the “funny moves”. Sometimes he likes to join in and I don’t mind the extra weight…adds a bit of a challenge. I’m not going to lie, this activity does not always go as smoothly as planned, but it’s always fun.
My FAVORITE at home workout is Pop Pilates! If you’ve never heard of it, LOOK IT UP! I’ve been doing it since Jackson was born. I never have time to make it to the gym anymore and needed something quick, but beneficial to do at home! There are tons of free YouTube videos online that I can pull up on my phone anytime!
- Go walking EVERYWHERE
Jackson loves walks. It’s probably the only time he’s awake and actually sitting down and relaxing for more than 60 seconds. We go on multiple walks a day. Even though I’m getting some exercise in, somehow it’s become sort of relaxing. For him and I both. We pack some snacks and drinks and we are set for 30-45 minutes each time, and usually stop by the park while we’re out. We rarely drive to the park (cars were not his favorite early on). We go on walks everywhere; around the neighborhood or nearby trails/paths. We try to find new places and switch things up frequently.
- Watch some construction
This one may be more popular for the boys, but watching construction is so intriguing to Jack. During our walks we always have to go watch the “tra-tor” nearby (another one of his first words). We have lots of new homes being built in our neighborhood and Jack loves to sit and watch all the dump trucks drive by and watch the tractors in action.
- Go on a “hike”
Now that Jack can walk, we sometimes do away with the stroller and we all walk. We have some dirt trails along a ditch by our house where Jackson loves to explore. He has fun looking for rocks, sticks, and flowers. Oftentimes he brings his mower or wagon to push. We plan on heading out to some national parks in our area this summer!
- Start a collection
Jackson loves to complete tasks. He likes to take his diapers to the diaper bin, pick up trash, or bring me my shoes. I try to keep him busy outside by having him find me acorns, pine cones, gum ball, or rocks. He takes it so seriously and is so proud of each object he finds. Grab a bucket and make it a game!
- Bike ride
One of our favorites. Initially this activity can cost you some money, but it was totally worth it for us. I got the bike for Mother’s Day and the trailer for Christmas. I give him a cup of snacks, some water, a toy and he’s set! We both enjoy it! Another one of those “relaxing” exercises. We ride around almost every day.
- Music in the park
Do some research and find locations in your area that perform free concerts outside. Pack a picnic and a blanket and enjoy a fun day/night out without the stress of having a toddler in a restaurant. You’ll probably be surprised with all you find! I found a lot of info on a Facebook page created for moms in my city.
- Arts and crafts
Maybe it’s because I was a teacher, but my boxes of craft supplies seem to be taking over our spare closet. Put them to use! Grab some of those pine cones from the collection you started, open up your craft boxes and let them use some of those materials you haven’t used in years. Head out back, lay out a blanket or use a table to put everything on and craft away! Jackson loves new things like this and getting to “help me” make something spectacular.
- Feed the ducks
“Duck” another first word for Jack. Proof that we do this stuff way too much! Find a nearby pond and bring some extra snacks. We all have fun watching and feeding the ducks!
- Meet up with friends
You NEED mom friends. Not just so your kids have a playmate, but for you to have a person to talk to who really understands your daily life struggles. Another plus is that naps are usually guaranteed afterword.
Thanks for reading! I hope you are able to take away something new to try with your little one!