This post is sponsored by Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona. All opinions are my own. #BCBSAZHealthy
Free Family Activities to Get Active Together
I went through years of planning almost daily activities for our family. We have always had a limited number of days that we are all home together, and wanting to take full advantage of our time, I often planned outings every open day. We are exposed to so many opportunities to fill up our calendars, it’s hard to gauge what we should and shouldn’t do. Most events come into your feed through social media marketing and if you look at it once online, odds are that fun event or activity will continue popping up on your screen until you’ve secured tickets.
I took a deep hard look at myself and realized my desire to do all the things all the time meant my family had become dependent on using every unoccupied moment of time doing something mom had planned. We were in a moving calendar focusing on the activities I thought our family would enjoy and our monthly budget was definitely not staying on track. In reevaluating our family calendar, I remembered the message from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) sharing how family health and wellness, mental and physical, should be a priority.
I also realized the importance of asking my daughters and my husband their ideas for family activities instead of assuming my plans were great for all of us. We’re about six months in on making better decisions with our time together and I have noticed substantial changes to our finances and the quality of our experiences. Every month we make an effort to select free family activities so we can be active, together. This doesn’t mean we are on a zero spend budget, but we have enjoyed challenging ourselves to plan activities with no cost.
Free Family Activities
Use your annual passes to local attractions
If you feel your family is always on the go, odds are you have annual passes to many different local venues. Our long list includes aquariums and zoos, gyms, museums, trampoline parks and more. Admittedly because of our annual memberships with no admission fees, beyond rock climbing gyms, we don’t visit often. Take advantage of those memberships you’ve already purchased and spend time at these venues. With memberships, we often visit early in the morning and don’t feel badly about leaving after just a couple of hours because we are not paying the daily admission fee.
Arizona is full of incredible local parks. Each month we like to visit a local park for the first time, this soon turns into a long list of destinations we’d like to visit again.
Sports at the Park
Our youngest daughter plays t-ball almost year-round because she loves the sport. I grew up playing softball and I love that she is so enthusiastic about it. Her interests will likely vary as she grows but for now we are taking full advantage of the opportunity to get our girls outside to play catch together. It can be any sport, or maybe just a big bouncy ball your children enjoy playing with. For us, baseball at our neighborhood park is a family favorite.
Our youngest daughter is currently four years old and the idea of a picnic is always exciting to her. Pack a lunch with items you already have at home, pick a destination and enjoy lunch outside. Sometimes we even picnic in our own backyard. The saguaro cactus watermelon bowl is an easy addition to your outdoor meal.
Free local events
It’s a tough balance because I know I can easily be sucked back into purchasing tickets for appealing events. However, Facebook events has been an excellent resource for finding free local activities.
I’m not talking about the video game, we’re actually suggesting a night-in built around fort building with your family. Blanket forts are forever a favorite activity and both my daughters enjoy constructing with all the chairs and blankets in our home.
Inspired by a recent out of state trip with friends, searching for murals is a new activity for our family. Art can be found anywhere but it’s especially fun to see the creativity on display with hand-painted murals. Walking a few blocks in the downtown area has provided us with many family photo opportunities.
Home dance party
I’ve never been turned down by my girls to a home dance party invite. Clear the coffee table, turn on some music and get out your favorite dance moves. There’s so much to be said about the joy you’ll find in being silly with your family. They need that safe space to be fully themselves and wiggle the night away.
Our oldest daughter really enjoys watching cooking challenge shows. So much so that she gifted me a cookbook and suggested we have family cook-offs. Time in the kitchen together lends the opportunity to introduce new foods while engaging your children in the process so they will be excited to try the meal they helped prepare. Easy recipes like Rainbow Veggies are fun to make together and help our family eat balanced meals.
Last year we made the decision to purchase an electric vehicle and since have taken advantage of day trips exploring new destinations. We have also enjoyed not having the gas expense for these family activities away from home. Pack a cooler, get on the road and play outside in a new space. In the Phoenix area we are just a couple of hours away from many different landscapes. Heading to Flagstaff to collect pinecones is a little sister’s perfect road trip plan. There’s so much around us that we haven’t explored yet.
You don’t have to live in a wildlife sanctuary to experience animals in your own neighborhood. For years, our oldest daughter was obsessed with bugs and would journal every discovery as we walked the neighborhood at sunset. We also enjoy being outside with our family pets. In our home we have a dog, cat, hedgehog and turtle!
You don’t have to spend money to make memories. Our children are accustomed to a very busy schedule, but it doesn’t mean we need to fill the empty spaces with costly activities. BCBSAZ is committed to inspiring health and wellness, and like our family recently recognized, being mentally and physically healthy is attainable and most definitively within reach. Learn more about BCBSAZ and how they have been dedicated to improving the health of Arizonans for more than 80 years by connecting with them on Facebook and Instagram. Follow along our Instagram Stories Family Wellness feature to see our commitment to family health and wellness. What are your favorite free family activities?