School’s out!:14 frugal ways to entertain the kids

“Are you around this week for a coffee?” My neighbour asked me the other day. “School’s broken up and I might need a break from the kids!”

I’d already twigged that the school holidays were upon us when I heard another neighbour’s kids screaming their heads off in the enormous paddling pool in their back garden. It’s sooo hot today I’m tempted to break neighbour protocol by jumping in it myself!

As you might know, DJ and I don’t have any little darlings ourselves. So, I can only imagine what a challenge it must be thinking up frugal ways to entertain the little gremlins for six weeks that won’t break the bank.

According to the Cooperative Bank, families spend a shocking £5,000 a year entertaining their children, and an average of £37 a week in the summer holidays, but only a third plan ahead by putting money away. I was alarmed to find a website selling loans suggesting people borrowed money to fund holidays and entertain their kids! Crazy advice! Surely there is a more sensible solution considering many people are feeling the pinch?

At least the weather is good right now, which should mean if you have a back garden you can keep the kids busy there – as long as they aren’t driving the neighbours insane – or take them to the park for games. But here are some other ideas I’ve come across.

1. It might be a bit late now, but plan ahead. If you can afford to, put a little money aside in the months leading up to the summer holidays to pay for extra expenses. And plan what activities you can do each week and have alternatives up your sleeve if it pours with rain.

2. Feeding the kids on a day out can be expensive. Take a packed lunch and your own drinks to save cash.

3. Get a family rail card or check with your train or bus company for offers. Make use of your Oyster card in London.

4. Many UK museums are free to enter and many have special activities or work sheet packs for kids.

 5. Look in your library or local papers for information on free or cheap activities such as council-run fun days or other activities. You might also find that your library runs its own, such as storytelling days for kids. Some councils or leisure centres also run cut-price sports training for children too, so it’s worth checking out.

6. Is your sproglet keen on nature? See if your local nature reserve runs cheap kids activities such as pond dipping or owl watching etc. Or simply take them there for a walk or picnic for free or to kick about a football in the park.

7. What child doesn’t enjoy the seaside? Padding around on the beach is great fun and gloriously free, but avoid spending too much cash on expensive food and ice creams.

8. Check out church-run activities. Often your local church will run very cheap daily clubs for children and you don’t usually have to be a church regular to attend.

9. If you’re short of cash, avoid theme parks. They can cost a fortune, with entry fees, expensive food and charges per ride, although some will allow you to use nectar points or Tesco club card points. Look out for special offers on days out there through etc. .

10. Take the little darlings to the library and let them entertain themselves with some good books.

11. Visit other friends with children the same age so they can enjoy the novelty of playing with someone else’s toys.

12. Check out your local cinema for cheap daytime deals or special kids clubs. A great standby if the weather is wet.

13. Set them to work to earn their pocket money and help you out! Get them dusting, hanging out the washing or washing the car.

14. If you’re lucky to have relatives nearby why not ask them to look after your children for a few hours to give you a break.

Here are some other ideas for low cost kids entertainment

How do you entertain your kids cheaply during the school holidays? Got any good tips? Let me know by leaving a message.

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6 Responses to School’s out!:14 frugal ways to entertain the kids

  1. Christine says:

    I remember a period when the children were very small and there was no job – the first thing that hit at the start of holidays was that there was no free school dinner at mid day and that there was no extra income to pay for the extra food. So never mind holiday activities – there was another meal to find 5 days a week. So it was up to the local park, the local museum and football on the local playing field same as every weekend but every day of the week and parents maybe eating less. Somehow I think that there are plenty of people still in the same boat. Which is why you find so many youngsters roaming the streets with nothing to do. Just a thought.

  2. Nina says:

    Not too mad yet but will be popping in for a coffee this afternoon!

  3. Christine says:

    You know, one of the biggest costs is childcare if both parents are working – not finding the children something to do. There are an awful lot of grandparents around here pressed into service where they are fit enough as this is an inexpensive option – walk down the street here. So for single working or both working parents there are a lot of other problems besides keeping the youngsters busy.

  4. Unknown says:

    Hello all,
    Very much enjoying the blog and just wanted to add that regarding libraries, they all run the Summer Reading Challenge in the holidays every year where children can read six books and get little prizes and then a medal at the end. There are usually attendent themed events that are free too. This year is themed round the Olympics but past years have included pirates and spy themes. Not only is this fab service free but research has proven that children\’s literacy levels slip during the summer break and those that do the challenge avoid this so its helping their education in a fun way too.
    The libraries also run lots of other free events, often in partnership with other council services such as the parks people who in previous years have done classes on planting seeds and making bird boxes in my local library in Lewisham so even city youngsters can learn a bit about nature. 
    Free adult events such as author talks and debates are also common. Just ask at your local library or look on their web pages.
    Happy summer.

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