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