With the summer holidays looming just around the corner, many parents will be worrying about the cost of keeping their little darlings entertained for seven weeks on the trot.
At Baby & Children’s Market our mission is to help parents bring down the cost of parenting. With this in mind, we’ve put together some ideas for a fun-packed, low-cost summer holiday break.
1. Explore Your Local Area
There are plenty of ways to use the resources in your local area to enjoy budget activities. Of course there are parks, playgrounds and splash parks but how about involving the kids in a game of Pokemon Go or GeoCaching?
Pokemon Go is free to play and the app can be downloaded onto mobile devices. You use your mobile’s GPS to find Pokemon creatures at local Pokemon Stops. Once you find them, you can interact with them on screen as if they were really at your location. The kids will relish the challenge of trying to find them all.
Geocaching is another free and slightly addictive activity you can take part in through an app. Your task is to find the geocaches in your area, sign the log book and then re-hide the geocache for others to find. You can share your progress with others online.
Many museums have free entry and don’t forget to check out the programme of events at your local library. As well as the Summer Reading Challenge, many libraries put on free craft activities and story times throughout the summer.
Shopping centres also hold sporadic fun days and events for children. Stores such as Hobbycraft often host free craft activities at weekends. If you’re lucky enough to still have a Children’s Centre in your area, there will likely be activities to take part in there too.
Swimming is also free for under 5s at most leisure centres and this is a great rain busting activity. Many cinemas also have kids’ showings in the mornings at a fraction of the cost of a regular showing.
2. Staying In
If you have a back garden, it can form the backbone of your summer. You can arrange treasure hunts, mini golf courses and even organise a mini summer Olympics with other neighbourhood kids. Or how about putting up a tent and letting the kids camp out?
Kids love gardening, so you could buy a few packets of seeds and let them experience the satisfaction of growing flowers and vegetables from scratch. Create a small space for them and they will delight in tending to it and flexing their green fingers.
When the weather thwarts outdoor play, there is plenty of fun to be had indoors. Baking with little people may be messy, but it’s lots of fun and helps them with many skills such as coordination and numeracy. You can find some child-friendly, fun recipes here.
Building an indoor den with cushions and blankets is always a winner, as in any kind of craft with boxes, cardboard and poster paints.
How about creating your own cinema? Kids can get involved by making the tickets and helping prefer cinema snacks. All you need is a darkened room and a family film.
Board games are not as popular as they used to be and this is a shame because they’re a brilliant way of having fun together as a family and helping children learn many skills (not least the art of losing gracefully!) If you’re running low on outdoor and indoor games, why not pop along to your local Baby & Children’s Market? You can pick up toys, games and many other children’s items at a fraction of high street prices. Charity shops are also an excellent source of toys and games.
3. Days Out
Theme parks and other attractions can be very expensive. You not only need to fork out for admission but also expensive food and gift shop items. However, you can use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers at many attractions as well as the vouchers on cereal boxes offering two-for-one entry. By taking your own food and drink and explaining to the kids that there will be no purchases from the gift shop, a day at a theme park needn’t cost the earth.
4. Let Them Be Bored
Many of us are so busy trying to structure our kids’ days with fun and educational activities, we often forget the advantages of letting kids be bored. When kids are allowed to be bored, they develop the capacity to entertain themselves and use their imagination and creativity to find things to do.
Boredom is the place where children explore their interests and passions. They need a free reign to discover and develop their interests in their own, non-structured way. Those of us who grew up in the eighties and before, remember summers packed full of non-structured entertainment we devised from our efforts to alleviate boredom. Often our parents had little involvement in these activities as they didn’t feel the pressure to provide us with constant entertainment.
So next time you hear, ‘I’m bored!’ don’t take it as a reflection of your failure to entertain but rather an opportunity for your child to use their own resources, explore their imagination and find something to do.
While they’re on this journey of self-discovery, you can put your feet up for a well-deserved rest!
The summer holidays don’t have to cost a fortune and kids don’t need expensive toys, vacations and days out to be happy. Research shows experiences make us much happier than things. These experiences can be as simple as planting some flowers or going for an adventure in the woods and are the building blocks happy childhood memories are made from.