Oh hello, Spring! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s so nice to have you back in town, bringing along the sunshine, warmth and rain that we’ve missed so much (and with that, all of the flowers, leaves and grass that come next). Now that you’re here, it’s time for us to enjoy the season, spend quality time with our families and save some money while we’re at it. Here are 10 fun, budget-friendly family activities to try out this Spring:
1. Picnic potluck in the park. Keep your eye on the forecast, because on the next beautiful day, you’re having a picnic in the park with family and friends! It’s a great way to kick off Spring, and by sharing the responsibility of food and activities, the costs are cut dramatically. Have each family or group bring one dish and some drinks, along with an activity (think bocce ball, Frisbee, soccer, etc.), and get outside!
2. Dust off those bicycles. Biking is the perfect activity for the whole family, and it doesn’t hurt to get your ride all tuned up and ready for the season. First, check out the brakes and chain; is there anything stuck in them? If so, clear them out. Next, fill up the tires according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Lastly, apply lubricant to the chain while slowly turning the pedals, and wipe off any excess with a clean, dry cloth. Take the bikes for a test drive, and if you notice any strange noises (clicks, rubbing or grinding sounds), bring them in to a local bike shop for a professional tune-up before the shops get busy for the summer season.
3. Get a head-start on gardening. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, radishes and most herbs are great to start indoors in a pot. While you probably won’t be starting your outdoor garden until May, now is an ideal time to get the above varieties going indoors. It’s a fun activity to do with the kids, and they’ll enjoy getting the soil ready for the pots and watching the seeds turn into full-grown plants.
4. Have a fort weekend. Normal is boring… isn’t it? Why not take advantage of a rainy weekend (come on, it’s Spring; it’s bound to happen) and switch things up a little bit? Pick an area of your house - anywhere will do - and make an epic fort with your kids using sheets, blankets and pillows. Stay in pajamas all weekend. Eat meals on the floor. Stay up late at night reading stories with only the light of a flashlight.
5. Pitch a tent. Just as those rainy weekends are bound to happen, so are beautiful ones. Get your first camping trip of the season in right at home! Set up a tent (with plenty of cozy blankets - Spring evenings in Calgary are chilly!), start a fire for s’mores and hot dogs, and enjoy the great outdoors. Best of all, you don’t have to pay any fees for a camping spot, and there’s indoor plumbing just a few steps away.
6. Girly spa day. Have a little girl at home that loves all things pretty? Have a special day at home - just the two of you - with facials, hairdos and mani-pedis. Complement the girly activities with a tea party or fancy lunch once you’re all done.
7. Have a garage sale. Surely after the hectic-ness of the holidays and winter in general, you’re ready to do some much-needed Spring-cleaning. Set aside a few days and get organizing! Make separate piles of things you want to donate, sell or throw out, and put price tags on the things you plan to sell as you go along. Once you’re all done, have a weekend garage sale! You’ll be glad that you took the time to de-clutter, and will make a few extra bucks while you’re at it.
8. Go hiking. Springtime is one of the best times of the year to get hiking; the air is crisp and cool (no overheating!), the flowers and leaves are just starting to emerge, and the trails are quiet. Heart Creek Trail (just east of Canmore) and Grassi Lakes (near Canmore’s Nordic Centre) are two great options for those looking for easy-to-moderate hikes that are good for all ages. Just be sure to layer up - the weather in the mountains can change quickly and dramatically in the Spring!
9. Painted springtime totes. Grab a few plain canvas totes (available at Michaels) and some fabric paint, and have your kids create some beautiful custom, Spring-themed tote bags! Flowers, trees, butterflies and birds look especially nice and colorful, but anything that reminds your kids of the season will work perfectly. The bags aren’t only a great way to display your child’s art, but are useful as well; they can bring them along to sleepovers, playdates and on trips with you to the grocery store or farmers’ market.
10. Leaf-print Easter eggs. Set aside the classic Easter egg dye kits this year and get creative! Have your children collect an assortment of petals, leaves and blades of grass (you may need to pick up a potted plant or two) and then paint them with a non-toxic paint. Next, have them press the painted side down onto the hardboiled eggs, and repeat! See what kinds of patterns they can create, scenes they can imagine or colors they can mix together; the eggs will be so pretty your family won’t want to peel them!
Stephanie is a freelance writer specializing in travel and food writing. For more information, visit www.stephaniearsenault.ca.
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