These are a few things I did for my son, when my finances did not allow for frills: I read to him, took him to the library, rented movies for $1.00, checked the Friday section of the paper to find out what free activities were going on for children, joined a great church and participated in kids activities, allowed him to spend the night with good friends, played board games, did crafts together, got ideas from other friends, took weekend drives to the parks and enjoyed quality time. There were times when I even let him help me in the kitchen to prepare a meal. The most important thing is to love yourself and put God first, and all else will fall into place. Having a great support system is vital. - Chary Mangualin Newport News, VA
I am a single mother of 3, and also work a 2nd shift outside the home. With weekends off, I try to spend as much time with my kids as possible. One thing we do that the kids look forward to is going to the dollar store. Once a month we go to Chuck E. Cheese, or out for Happy Meals. We also rent movies that are only a couple of dollars, make popcorn and enjoy time together at home. Library cards are free and you can borrow books and movies from them at no cost. - Dawn Hastreiter in Ft. Wayne, IN
I was a single Mom and scoured yard sales and thrift shops for special things they wanted. For treats, I would take them to the Dollar stores, where everything is a $1, and let them pick out one thing each week. We went to free concerts, special events at the parks, the library and on picnics. Drinks and snacks were always packed. One of my children's favorite events was the time we sat on a blanket in the backyard watching a meteor shower. They still talk about it today. - Sherril Knight in Arlington, TX
Give them your time, energy and lots of love. This is all they will ever need. - E. W. in Columbia, South Carolina
Here are the things that I have found to do for next to nothing: go to the park, picnic, explore your own woods or backyard, make working outside in the yard fun and reward kids with a trip to McDonalds, the Mall, spend time reading (its free and very rewarding), let kids pick out things they really want, and then help to save up money for those special items, play board games, or card games as a family, take a walk, make soap bubbles with liquid soap and water, collect fall leaves and draw on the sidewalk with chalk. I too, run a business from my home. Please check out my web site: www.sucesspromotions.com for more details. Get creative and use your imagination - Shannan Hearne, in Clover, SC
From Jodie: Today's kids have too much material things, and not enough of the real "frills." Don't feel guilty; be glad you can only provide the simple stuff. Your children will be more appreciative and will reap the benefits for the real treasures in life. If I could only make others believe that the smallest things count the most, we'd all be much happier and healthier in today's society.
To share parenting tips or submit questions fill out our Contact Form. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.