How to Have Cheap Laughs With Your Kids (Part 2)

Growing up, my grandparents had the world’s smallest swimming pool in their back yard. A more accurate term would probably be the world’s biggest bathtub. Despite its size, the other grandkids and I thought it was the world’s best swimming pool. It had a slide and a diving board, but most importantly, it came complete with fun adults. My grandfather was an avid gardener. So instead of beach balls, we often arrived to find one watermelon per grandkid floating in the pool. As if that weren’t magical enough, my uncle would throw golf balls in the pool for us to compete to see who could retrieve the most.

Summers in that tiny pool are some of my favorite childhood memories. My previous article on how to have cheap laughs with your kids sparked more conversation with my kids about additional fun memories that, once again, cost little to nothing. Here are more cheap or free family activities to inspire you to create more memories of your own.

1. Troll Doll

While in the pool, my daughter always asked me to make her look like a troll doll. I would take her hair, pull it up, and it would stay up like a troll doll. I assume the chlorine and other things in the water made for a magical, concrete-like hair gel. Who knew? Now you do.

2. Water Flips

Want to enjoy the sight of your child flipping in the air without the fear of the ground? You can. Try this. My kids would lie flat across my arms, and I would flip them into the pool’s deep end. This worked beautifully until their massive growth spurt years.

3. Mantatee Rider

While the riding of manatees was banned in 1973, to my knowledge, the riding of dads posing as manatees is still legal in all 50 states. I served as the familial manatee in the pool and ocean for many years, and my kids’ growth spurt years had little to no effect on my ability to be a manatee.

4. Brake Out

This one may not be appropriate for all ages and children. Proceed with caution. While riding in the truck with my very fun grandfather, he often said, “I don’t want to scare you, but my brakes aren’t working.” While this one may not be for everyone, it was fun every time for this kid. I carried on his tradition with my kids, and they loved it. I guess they have a weird sense of humor like me.

5. Treasure Hunt

We live in an area that continues to build new neighborhoods. My wife and I like to walk around homes while under construction. (No, we aren’t breaking and entering; builders welcome this in our area.) Our oldest son remembers us telling him when he was 4 or 5 to find three treasures the size of his hand in each house. He would find tiny pieces of wood, rocks, and lighting fixtures we could use in our own home. OK, maybe not that last one, but this was my way of turning something boring for him into an adventure.

6. Carpool Karaoke

Car rides were some of my kids’ favorite memories with me. Per our friend’s advice, my wife and I made a rule not to talk on the phone while in the car with our kids. This gave us time to talk, connect, and, most of all, sing. They all had their favorite requests. My daughter’s most frequent request was Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell. She even requested it at her eighth-grade formal. The kind DJ responded to her, “While I love that song too, I think you and I may be the only ones who know it.” She was amazed at how that could be possible.

7. Here Comes Another One

I’ve learned over the years that our family, and probably yours, has its own sayings and language. When our kids were smaller, and we played in the ocean, I would hold my kids, jump up in the air, and right before the wave would hit us, we would say, “Here comes another one just like the other one!” This is now part of the Lowe lexicon and shows up every beach vacation.

Creating cheap moments with your kids creates memories that are anything but.

Sound off: What is one cheap or free way you have fun with your kid?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is your favorite free way for us to have fun?”