Don't fret, there are activities you can do to entertain your toddlers, which won't break the budget, and will keep your little ones busy without mayhem.
Playing with water can entertain little people for hours. Although water is not free, water play can be a relatively low cost activity; as long as you're not blasting your garden hose for an entire day.
You can buy water tables that are designed for kids, such as the Little Tikes Fish N Splash, but water play need not cost that sort of money. Idea's for water play include:
'Painting' the fence. Give your toddler a bucket of water and a clean paint brush.
Toy wash. Give your kids a bowl of water with some child-friendly detergent for bubbles and a sponge. Suggest cleaning a bunch of toys outside; matchbox cars, little people collection, plastic dinosaurs, dolls, etc.
Sink or float. Gather some household bits and pieces (nothing precious, of course) and a few toys. Your little one guesses which one will sink and what will float in a bowl of water.
Got a giant cardboard box in the house? Perhaps an empty box from a new fridge or washing machine? If you don't have a big box, but you can get hold of one, think about crafting it into a den for your toddler. Cut out a doorway, some windows, perhaps even get the paints out if you want to decorate your kid's new play den. Collect pillows, blankets, books, toys and a torch, and you have a new safe haven play zone for your kids.
Masking tape car, train or pony track
Using a roll of masking tape, you can create a track around the house on which your toddler can race cars, trains or toy ponies. The beauty of using masking tape, is that it sticks to carpets, rugs, tiles and floorboard without leaving too much sticky residue when your child's game is finished.
This is a fun game that will keep your toddler amused, at the same time teach your child to identify colours. Find a selection of colour plastic cups, and an array of coloured objects to match each cup. Arrange a mixutre of your found coloured objects on the floor or table, and you've got a new game ready to go. Your toddler must match objects to cup, by placing each object into the appropriate colour container.
This game can be done with buttons (be careful with sizes), coloured pasta, reams of sewing threads, toy cars, craft pom poms, etc.