With the summer holidays almost upon us, no doubt there are parents everywhere in a state of turmoil. On one hand you get a generous break from washing school uniforms and packing up lunches. But on the other you have to find a way to keep the kids entertained for six longgggg ass weeks. It’s like your hubby buying you flowers (don’t laugh, apparently some do it) but then realising he paid for them on the joint account. The sort of kind gesture that makes you curl your lip and roll your eyes!
Unfortunately entertainment is one thing which doesn’t come cheap. A family ticket at Cineworld is going to set you back nearly £30. That’s before they’ve even demanded popcorn or started routing around in the pick n mix. Fancy a trip to the zoo? I shit you not a trip to Chester Zoo during the summer holidays for a family of four (two adults & two children) will cost you £95!!! With prices like this you’ll need to remortgage your house just to make it through the summer.
It’s clear that while we’re all aware of the outrageous costs involved with holidaying during the school break, there’s clearly a problem much closer to home. Choosing to spend the holidays at home may seem like the cheaper option but how can you manage your money and without being a boring mummy?
It’s all about being savvy and planning ahead. Before the holidays plan your budget. Schedule a few blow out activities then use some of my handy almost free activities to bridge the gap. Keeping it cheap and cheerful will help you to manage your money. You’ll have plenty of fun activities to stop the kids from whining. Plus you won’t have to worry about the mammoth credit card bill come September.
1. Free Farms
In Sheffield we’re quite fortunate to have a free animal farm which is part of Graves Park. If you live locally I really can’t recommend it enough. To say it’s completely free they have a pretty wide variety of animals (they have an extensive chicken collection which if you child – like mine – has a fetish for anything with feathers you’ll be well away) and a really good playground. Personally I think the food is overpriced but that is easily resolved if you take a picnic.
2. Pick your own Fruit
Last weekend we took Rory strawberry picking. While it’s probably an activity better suited to older children, Rory was happy as pie gobbling free fruit. For the price of a punnet of berries the kids will get at least an hours worth of entertainment plus it’s a great way to coax them into eating their five a day!
3. Visit a Museum
Did you know that admission into the majority of museums is free? This includes places like National Railway Museum in York and even the National History Museum in London. If you want to find out which museums are local to you take a look at this handy page on Money Saving Expert. Don’t forget taking a packed lunch can help keep the costs down and you can save the extra cash to spend in the gift shop.
4. PetPals at Pets at Home
If your kids ambition is to be the next David Attenborough this is the freebie for you! Pets at Home run workshops which are completely free and aimed at kids aged from 5 to 11. They aim to teach children how rewarding pets can be but also how to properly take care of them. Session last from between 30 minutes to an hour and you’ll need to book a slot online.
5. Bake a Cake
Personally I’ve never been one for baking. I like to think I can cook but when it comes to art of baking it’s a ruddy disaster! That said even I would be capable of rustling up some chocolate cornflake buns. Strictly speaking I know it’s not baking (Mary Berry would have my guts for garters) although I’m pretty sure there’s not a child alive who doesn’t like a cornflake bun!
6. Go Treasure Hunting
The perfect activity to reserve for a rainy day when you’re all going a little stir crazy. Strap everyone into the minivan and head to your local antiques centre. Avoid the glassware and make sure nobody licks anything and you should be fine. Who knows you might find something valuable.
7. Have a Water Fight
Summer is the perfect time to get the kids outdoors. What better way to entice them away from the TV with a water fight. If you’re happy to spend a little money you can buy fast fill self tying water balloons online. You can pick them up pretty cheap so you’ll get just over 100 balloons for £2.
Just remember, however you decide to spend the holidays make the most of your time together. You don’t need to spend a fortune to have a good time and watching your expenditure will mean you’ll have more money for wine. Lets face it, six weeks is a long time. We all know you’ll need it!
If you’ve got a sec, please leave us a comment because we’d love to know what you thought!