Sacha’s Corner: Family fun without breaking the bank

In the first installment of her new column, journalist and mum-of-two Sacha McNeil shares her secrets to keeping kids entertained cheaply.

Family outings are fun, chaotic, adored by children and more often than not – expensive. But it doesn’t have to be this way every time.

Take it from me, nothing says ‘rock’n’roll’ like letting your kids loose at the local farmers market to choose whatever type of lettuce they want.

Oakleaf, Great Lakes, Romaine, Tom Thumb – you’d be amazed at the number of varieties out there.

Maybe you wouldn’t or more likely, don’t care. But, hear me out, there’s money to be saved, entertainment to be had and children to be occupied by living life in the, ahem, ‘fast lane’.

You see, up until a certain point kids can be convinced that a trip to the veggie market is considered living it up, so strike while the going’s good.

Brace yourself and take a trip on some public transport a mere few kilometres up the road, small people in tow.

Just be prepared to listen to a description of every single object driven past in a very highly pitched excited voice.

Meanwhile, commuters will shove their earphones in further; determinedly stare into their laps while sliding a bag onto the seat beside them to ensure they don’t end up with a small tour guide to share the ride with.

As long as there are no bird phobias in the family (there may well be afterwards) head to the local duck pond.

Kill two birds with one stone – get rid of those stale crusts the kids won’t eat and teach them about the local wildlife. As long as the stone doesn’t become a literal weapon to combat a towering black swan.

Our most recent hit was collecting Pipis together at the beach, cooking them up and eating them for dinner.

There’s nothing like some family bonding time over a bowl of hot molluscs dipped in white vinegar.

This kind of entertainment is lapped up by young kids, but get them started young – before you know it they’ll catch on to the frugality behind your family excursions and could be the ones sitting at the back of the bus without you.

I’ll let you in on little known lettuce fact – there’s a variety called Roger’- now you can’t tell me he’s not living life in the fast lane.

For more ideas to keep your family active, check out My Family Activities

And to find your nearest vege market, visit My Family Food

Sacha McNeil is a journalist, news presenter and busy mum of two. Join her each week as she shares the lessons she has learnt about parenting – and the things she is still trying to figure out. From dealing with fussy eaters, how to keep toddlers entertained and everything in between, Sacha’s practical advice is both motivating and often hilarious.

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