Remember back to the maternity leave days, or maybe you are living that reality now, when the finances dip and the expenses increase? Well really the latter explains having children in general, but I think that is when I first realized that I would maximize our dollars and still be able to get out, involved and be busy frugally. Over the last few years I have realized our community offers A LOT of affordable things to do that cost little to nothing. I have decided to share some of these FREE things. If you are not within our immediate community – Durham, Clarington, Kawartha regions – many of these can be a starting point to check out your community for similar programs.
The library offers programs for children right from birth. There are even workshops for mom & dad on things like yoga to taxes. They offer programs during the week, day & evening, and weekends, meaning there is pretty much something for everyone and to accommodate any schedule. Almost all programs are FREE, the catch being you need a library card, which is also free. The calendars are updated monthly/bimonthly depending on the library and always offer variety and something new. We’ve been to dozens of library events from animal shows to music productions, and it is always good to take out some new books while we are there. Here are a few direct links to some local libraries. Be sure to book into events soon after they are listed as they often fill up quickly!
Big Box Construction Stores
Every month places like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer FREE workshops for kids to build special projects. So far we’ve attended 11 workshops at Home Depot, and each time you get a special pin for your apron signifying your build. A great activity for dexterity and a whole lot of fun!
Early Years Centres
All across Ontario there are dozens of Early Years Centres with activities for children from ages 0-6. There are some amazing programs like infant massage to preschool readiness programs, and of course they too are FREE. We attended several programs prior to schooling years and the programs were never overfilled or used to their capacity. There were also drop in programs where you could get the kids out for a few hours, have some adult socialization, and the kids are learning and interacting with other children of close ages.
Movies in the Park
Every summer municipalities and local businesses offer Movies in the Park. These are always an amazing family night of fun. Our advice is to pack a picnic dinner and get there early for the best seats! We’ve posted an example below for Whitby who lists the movies on the same website link yearly, but other cities tend to post them on their community calendars. A quick Google search (a little closer to summer) will easily find these. Do not forget a blanket!
Music/Concerts in the Park
Concerts in the park are also a lot of fun. There are kids concerts and adults concerts, and everyone seems to have fun at both. Most cities from Pickering to Newtonville in our region hold these type of events. As we are still in the deep freeze, most concerts are not yet listed, but again closer to summer checking your city website and events link, or a quick Google search will link you to these FREE events.
Many large local companies offer free swim/skates, especially during the holidays and periods like March break. We posted the Tim Horton’s ones below, but a quick search will reveal more for your area.
Tuesday’s on the Trail & March Break Madness
Ontario Power Generation offer free programs on Tuesdays all over Ontario each summer. Their 2014 calendar is still up, but this link will soon update to 2015. They also offer a lot of free fun March break activities. Be sure to check them out for all things fun and this upcoming March Break.
McLaughlin Art Gallery – Oshawa
Family art activities which differ each session and are bound to be a whole lot of fun! FREE on select Sundays.
We couldn’t forget to mention our Everything Spring Show is also FREE to attend – and there will be things for the kids to do like ceramic painting, kids pictures, and discovery toys play area (all free). It will not just spell fun for the kids either – massages for mom, shopping – we promise some of the best local vendors – food samples and a bake sale! Oh, and 55+ FREE door prizes to be won too!
We will be following this up with an Affordable Activities (not quite free) post soon and will update you as we come across more free events. For now, start filling your calendar and share with your friends – many of the above make great playdates!