The school holidays offer lots of fun and quality time for families, but they can also stretch budgets. A recent survey has revealed that parents are worried about the cost of keeping the kids entertained this summer. But a fun summer’s day in the outdoors doesn’t have to break the bank. It just takes a bit of planning and imagination.
A guide to entertaining the kids outdoors on a budget
Hunt for treasure: Compile a list of things to collect while you go for a walk. This could be five different types of stones, shells, rocks or leaves. Or you could try to collect as many different objects starting with all the letters of the alphabet. Instead of collecting, try spotting things. Spotting wildlife on an A to Z scale offers lots of fun – and thought.
Walk on: Walking is cheap and accessible to all ages and levels of fitness. You only need walking shoes or boots – and a waterproof jacket for rainy days – before you can set off with the family on a vast network of urban and rural trails. Check out:
Step to it: Give every member of the family a pedometer and see who walks the most steps during a week of the school holidays. This will have them asking to walk errands for you, or running around the garden, or playing football with their friends, without you even having to suggest it!
Sleepover under canvas: Youngsters will love the idea of camping out in the garden with their pals. With a rise in the number of cheap tents and sleeping bags, spending time under canvas offers a great form of low-budget entertainment. Ask you child’s pals to bring their own sleeping bags and pillows. And cook a barbecue tea for them.
Beach days: A day at the beach doesn’t have to mean fun fairs and expensive meals out. Take a bucket and spade, a Frisbee, kites and a picnic and show the kids how to have low-cost fun at the coast. For example, build a huge sand sculpture of a crocodile or a castle with a real moat. Or go rock pooling or comb the beach for shells.
Free attractions: Take a look at council websites or type in free attractions into the search engines and the chances are you’ll find a host of places that offer free entry, or reduced price entry during the summer. Museums and galleries are a good bet. Take your own refreshments to keep the cost down further, although some place will require you to eat off the premises. So make use of nearby parks for a picnic. And if it’s close enough, why not cycle to the attraction instead of paying to fill the car with petrol.
Discount vouchers: Check on-line for vouchers and codes to access cheaper tickets for attractions. You may find that booking in advance can also reap the rewards of cheaper entry costs.
Garden fun: You garden doesn’t have to be filled with pricey toys, just be creative with what you’ve got:
* If you have a large tree in your garden build a home-made swing for the kids.
* Look for old bits of wood and branches and create a make-do play hut.
* Sculpt animals in the sand in a sand-pit.
* Let the children take chairs, blankets and duvets from indoors to build a “den” outdoors.
* Buy cheap chalks and let the kids drawn on the paving slaps. It will easily wash off.
Do you have any other budget ideas for summer fun with the kids?