Being a good parent has absolutely zero relation with the money you have and everything to do with the love you hold in your heart for your kid.
Not everyone is rich enough to afford all the toys in the world for their kids. While money helps one do more for their kids, lack of it doesn't mean that you cannot be a good parent or have a good time with your little ones. In a recent question posted by u/ForwardPumpkins, they ask people, "What are frugal ways to 'treat' your kids when out of the house?" They would often take their daughter to Starbucks and order pink drinks for both of them, but they seemed to be getting pricey. Hence, they were looking for some reasonable and affordable options to add to the mix which would still maintain the integrity of their quality time together. They wanted to know how people manage to spend quality time with their kids or children without necessarily spending a lot of money. The comments section on this post showed us that good parenting, which creates memories for life for the kid, has very little to do with money and everything to do with one's love and intention.
So, 2 pink drinks are like $10? So, instead, take her to a book store or art supplies store or something similar (whatever she's interested in honestly) and let her pick one thing out for around the same price. My dad used to take me thrift shopping every Monday because I loved fashion. I'd only get one or two things each time, but it was such a great experience and to this day, I'm still so grateful that he saw something I was interested in and invested in it, even though he didn't have a lot of money at all. It feels great to feel treated but also have some sort of value come out of that $10. - u/Alarming-Zone3231
Don't count out the simple evening of a walk through your local park and bringing some sandwiches, snacks and a towel or blanket for a small picnic. You can also bring a frisbee or card games, etc. to play. If you are in a colder climate, my parents used to sometimes have us go to $5 and below and pick out a new board game or something and we would stay home and play the new game and watch a movie etc. Unfortunately, as far as things to do like laser tag, go-karts, etc. are pretty pricey now, but always keep an eye out for promotions for them because there can be some great deals!- u/brad_hd
When I was a kid, I loved feeding ducks, turtles, and fish at local ponds/lakes. We used to do random Bingo at malls, parks, etc., homemade cards of 'person in red shirt,' 'white flower,' 'lemonade stand' and stuff like that. Small prize for whoever won, like a dollar bill or ice cream at McDonald's. $5 at a Dollar or thrift store to be spent however they want. We, kids, had an ongoing competition of who could get the most for their money or find the weirdest item. We would dress up in the wackiest outfits we could make up (mismatched shoes, multiple layers, exaggerated makeup, etc), give ourselves code names, and just play tag or go fishing or whatever. Go to the woods and build a fort with only rope, a tarp, and whatever we could find. $2 afternoon matinees on a weekday at the local theater. There were 6 of us kids and we weren't exactly swimming in money, so a lot of our excursions involved hefty imagination. The best memories I have are doing things like that. - u/inthevanyougo
As an Auntie, I always pack a big bag of snacks - granola bars can go back into the cupboard if not eaten and carrot sticks can be cooked. I've occasionally thrown out some battered jam sandwiches but will shoulder that cost. And I throw cartons of juice and bottles of water into the car. This means if we're having fun, we don't have to stop. It also knocks a big part of the cost of a day out. Buying lunch can be really expensive, but this means we can go out more and then maybe buy ice creams or souvenirs instead. And they always all get hungry separately. I also learned to have a couple of towels and car blankets. Then, I will happily let them do anything, even if it's messy and/or wet. 'Go ahead. If your clothes get nasty, you'll be stripping off at the car and going home in a blanket toga, if you're OK with that, I'm OK with you going swimming in your pants, making a mudslide, climbing the wet trees covered in lichen or having a leaf fight.' Being told yes has always been a big treat. - u/BitchLibrarian
My kid loves books. Bookstores and libraries are her jam. We use gift cards for the bookstore and libraries every other week as a treat. My kid also loves chocolate. We go to a local dairy that serves soft-serve ice cream, a McDonald's sundae with hot fudge or the local chocolatier. Once in a while, we get hot chocolate at Starbucks for $1.45. My kid also thinks that trips to museums are a fantastic treat. She hasn't realized I've never paid admission to a museum because I find so many with free admission. Many museums have free "locals" days or free passes through your local library. We also have season passes to Great America and it pays for itself after going twice in a year. - u/Uberchelle
We were very poor when I was a kid. My dad would take me to pick blackberries. Not on a farm where you pay to pick, but like on a mountain road somewhere. He would take me fishing a lot. Worms are cheap to buy or you can dig them for free. And the fish you catch adds food to your table. We would go camping a lot. It doesn't have to be expensive. You don't need Columbia hiking poles and Northface mummy bags. You don't even need a tent if the weather is mild. Free campsites are abundant. You don't have to stay for a week. Just one afternoon, one night and a morning can be a fun experience for kids. They want to stab a hotdog with a stick and burn it in the fire, then eat it. The meals don't have to be elaborate freeze-dried backpacking stuff. Being out in nature is good for everyone. You can make it as comfortable as you want, as cheap as you want. If you don't have things and you're interested, ask a local buy-nothing Facebook page. There will be people with a tent they have had in their garage for 6 years that they never used and want it gone. - u/muffinmrdr
Make food at home together to take outside with you; you can have a picnic! Bonus points for getting her more involved by helping pick recipes to try. Make good use of your local library! Not only do they have books you can borrow, but many also offer movies, games, magazines, etc. You can also borrow ebooks and audio books using Overdrive/Libby. A lot of libraries also have seed catalogues where you can get free seeds (grow some plants together!) as well as free or discounted passes and tickets to other local venues like parks and museums. Look for free/discounted events and venues near you. Will obviously vary by location but a lot of museums have a "pay as you wish" day/time or are donation based. Find some local blogs and newsletters that share events in your area and you can also find some good shows, performances, etc to go to together. Maybe spend some time in local thrift stores, used bookstores, etc. Even if you don't buy anything it's fun to browse and you can also find some hidden gems! - u/kokoromelody
When mine were little, I kept a selection of park toys, kites, sandbox toys, buckets of Hot Wheels, etc., in the back of the van and we'd go to all the different public parks within driving distance. They'd grab up the kids there and invent epic games. I remember this parachute toy. They'd throw it up in the air and freeze tag as many kids as possible until "the ref" declared the round over when the parachute hit the ground. Sort of a human jacks game. They thought it was a big deal. We did this until the youngest was a teen. One of my kids is now a games designer for a large video game company. Encourage play! - u/DausenWillis
It might not be for everyone, but I take my kids foraging and then we make tasty stuff with what we find. I know of a handful places with persimmon and mulberry trees that we make cakes, cookies and candy with. If you're interested, there's also a website called fallingfruit.org that is basically a Google Maps for foraging. Put in your location and the map populates with foraging spots around you. The site is fed by other foragers, so make sure to add things when you find them to keep the community going. - u/Iron-Rythm
When we were teenagers, we were super poor and couldn't afford even basic treats. But my mom took all three of us as teens to the local park to hang out. She had bottled water or juice to quench our thirst. We hadn't done this as kids, and she wanted to make up for lost time by taking us out. Best memories ever. For winter, it was our uncle who took out sledding. We all had fun, especially him, even though he was in his early 30s. - u/kavalejava