So the kids have finished with school until September and now it’s your job to keep them occupied. This can be much easier said than done and it can definitely be more expensive than you might expect.
Factoring in days out, travel and all the little things they’ll insist they must have when you’re out and about, you can soon find that your bank account has taken a big hit. While staying at home helps to cut down costs, no one wants their kids to be stuck in front of the TV all summer, so it pays to have some ideas up your sleeve.
Whether it’s free or cheap activities, ways to save cash on trips, or ideas for having a holiday at home, being prepared can mean you avoid emptying your wallet during the school holidays. To help you out, here are some things you might want to try:
Get to the museum
Loads of museums offer free entry, even if it is only on specific days, making them a great option for a family day out. No matter what your kids are interested in, they’re sure to find at least one exhibition they’ll enjoy and that will keep them occupied.
If you want to make a trip to the museum more engaging, set some activities for them like drawing their favourite exhibit, writing down facts they think are interesting or finding specific items on display. Even if they’ve moaned about going to a museum, this could soon help them forget their protests.
Book in advance
Trips to zoos, aquariums and theme parks are all great ideas but they can also be really pricey – especially if you’ve got a big family. If you really want to go to one of these with your kids this summer – or if they won’t stop bugging you to take them – have a look at buying tickets in advance.
Many places offer discounted rates, online only offers or vouchers that can make your day out a lot cheaper. While it’s still not a cheap day out, you can at least be happy that there are a few more pennies in your pocket.
If you don’t want your kids hanging out in front of the TV all summer, simply planning some days outside can be great. Whether you head to the park, the beach or simply pop out to your garden, taking games and a picnic along can make sure they’re kept entertained for hours.
Even setting up a garden picnic – which we’ve found some great recipes for – and playing a family game in the garden can be a lot of fun and is about as cheap as day together can get. If you’ve got a laptop or tablet to hand, you could even set up an outdoor family cinema in the evening to enjoy a film and really make the most of being outside.
Hunt for vouchers
The summer holidays usually mean attractions offer some discounts or vouchers that can allow your family to enjoy a day out at a fraction of the usual cost. Sites like Money Saving Expert often list the latest vouchers, while many newspapers have offers running for the full six weeks, allowing you to enjoy loads of trips.
Of course, a good online search can also help you find vouchers for events and attractions near you.
You definitely aren’t the only parent out there struggling to think of cheap days out during the school holidays, so why not make the most of that fact? Setting up kid sharing with friends or other parents from your child’s school can mean that they get to enjoy lots of fun days out with mates and that you get some peace and quiet.
Kid sharing means that you each take it in turns to have the kids for a day, which can mean doing something at home, heading somewhere local or having a full day out – with each child being paid for by their own parents, of course. The fact that your little ones get to see their friends is likely to keep them entertained even if you’ve just set up games in the garden for them so anything else will be a bonus. Plus, you’ll end up with at least one day on your own.
Walk don't drive
Even if you’re going somewhere you go a lot – such as into town or to Grandma’s house – leaving the car at home and walking there can make it feel like more of a day out. So long as the walk isn’t too far, your kids will probably enjoy being out of the house and the trip will fill more time so you don’t need to think of loads more activities.
You can keep them occupied along the way by getting them to see if they can find anything interesting, getting them to list all the animals they see or even having them take turns leading a march. Hopefully, by the time you all get home, they’ll be tired out so won’t want to do much else!