One of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child is quality time together. Spending time with a child, having fun, and taking time to connect with them can create memories that a child will cherish for the rest of their life. Feeling this appreciation from a parent and the connection that comes from spending time together has a huge impact on a child’s self-worth and sense of appreciation. A child has a chance to observe their parent and model positive behaviors, learn to talk about their feelings and feel loved. All of these things have an influence on a child’s mental health, and they are cultivated by having quality time with a parent.
Between work, sports, camps and social lives, it can be hard to find time to spend together. It’s important to set a time regularly to spend with just the family. This time can be spent doing something as simple as reading a book or playing catch outside, but once in a while it’s nice to get more ambitious and take the family out. With kids getting bored and antsy during the summer months, there are lots of free or inexpensive things to do around the Twin Cities. Check out these ideas for some local family fun that won’t break the pocket book.
- Utilize a local library. It’s important to get kids into the library at a young age and encourage a love for reading. There are often free classes and activities going on that change weekly. Stop by or go to your local library’s website to get more information.
- Natural light can lift spirits and provide a great environment for bonding activities. Summer is a time to get outside and enjoy the warmth of sunshine, but sometimes the heat makes having fun difficult. Head to one of the Twin Cities splash pads for a cool, free, sun-filled afternoon.
- Relax and enjoy time outside with the many opportunities for music and movies in the parks around the Twin Cities. Various locations offer free events like this multiple times a month. Walk around the park enjoying live music or grab a blanket and head out after sunset to enjoy a movie.
- Need to fill a rainy morning? Check with a local movie theater for cheap kids movie tickets. Often theaters will play previously released kid friendly movies in the morning for an extremely discounted price or for free.
- Explore free museums all over the Twin Cities. Como Zoo and Conservatory, Minneapolis Institute of Art and others are free and interesting for all ages. Head over to “Groovin’ in the Garden” at Como Zoo to enjoy free concerts and family friendly activities on Wednesdays from 6-8 PM. Also the Walker Art Center hosts their “Free First Saturday Garden Party” each month and the Minnesota Children’s Museum is free on the third Sunday of the month thanks to Target!
- Want a cheap and fun take home activity to keep the kids engaged at home? Check out ArtScraps in St. Paul for cheap art supplies to keep a child busy and creative all afternoon.
- Look around for author and illustrator book readings. They are often free and supported by a local organization or library. Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis adds interaction with live animals to make the experience even more fun, while Red Balloon in St. Paul has many events and readings for kids. This is a great way to get children engaged in reading and learning.
Talking and listening to a child while spending time doing a fun activity is a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship and come to understand the child better. Going out doesn’t need to be a fancy affair; it’s about finding an opportunity to get to know each other and establish a supportive and encouraging relationship.
Note: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health.