Having three children has obviously meant that summer will be a little bit tighter on the purse strings this year so I’ve been thinking of some ways in which I can give Dexter an awesome summer holiday before he goes up to big school, without making myself completely skint or worrying about not having enough for certain things. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some fantastic ideas for things to do that won’t break the bank and help you create a fun but frugal summer for your little ones too!
Make a 6 week Calendar.
Ok, so first things first. Mark out a 6-week calendar big enough to write an activity for each day. I did this a few years ago and found an A3 piece of card was a perfect size but a piece of A4 paper will work just fine. Mark out all the dates and then add any appointments or plans you may already have. As you start to plan the rest of your holiday, you will have it all clearly set up and can avoid double booking etc.
Book some play dates!
The great thing about the summer holidays is that you are not alone. Everyone else’s kids are off school too, so put a call out on your facebook page or text those mummy friends you haven’t seen for a while and get play dates booked in.(Add these to your calendar you’ve just made.) Even if you only see 2 friends, twice each, that’s 4 days sorted where you haven’t got to plan or organise a trip out. Do something simple for lunch like beans on toast or a £1 pizza and you’re well away. If you’ve not got any mummy friends that have children the same age as yours, why not speak to some of the parents on the school run so your little ones still get to see their school friends.
Go to the park.
Not the same park you always go to.. mix it up a bit. Try a week of going to a different park every day and then maybe ask the kids to pick their favourite and go back there over the weekend. You could even get them to rate them on various things. Make some simple scorecards and rate the swings, slides etc.
If you have one close by, why not try a water park or even a skate park.
They don’t need to cost you any more than eating at home. Pasta is cheap and easy to make and can be eaten cold. Freeze a tub of cocktail sausages and get some frozen sausage rolls and just take out enough for that day’s lunch. This way the food will last a lot longer and you’ll always have something in for a last minute trip. Even if you just take out a cheese sandwich, an apple and a bag of crisps, there’s something about taking your food outside that just makes it that bit more enjoyable.
Get some culture.
Many places like libraries or museums will put on events or activities over the holidays. Many of these are free or only ask for a small fee or donation to cover costs. Library reading challenges are normally quite popular and often reward the children with certificates. If you do manage to get away for a break, there area few ideas to keep costs down, here
Create a holiday journal.
For less than a couple of quid you can pick up a kids sketch pad or exercise book and a pack of pencils and they can create their very own journal of the holiday. At the end of each day or week, they can write (or draw) their favourite moments. Maybe they could collect things to stick inside too. It makes a great way of looking back at the fun they’ve had plus offers some quiet time for you. Of course, you may need to help if you have younger ones.
Create a treasure hunt.
You can use pictures of things to find, give clues, draw a map, tick lists – however you want to do it. Find a certain flower, tasks to climb a tree or answer a wildlife question before you can move on maybe. A picnic at the destination is a great motivator.
Chores disguised as fun.
Let them clean the car and end up with a water fight, make a small washing line and wash dolls clothes. Kids love sweeping and mopping. Maybe cut the grass and let them have a grass fight.
Buying summer supplies.
A trip out at the start of the holiday to buy lots of things to use over the coming weeks is one day filled by just preparing for the rest of the weeks. My essential summer shopping list includes things like a paddling pool, pavement chalks, bubbles, boxes of ice pops etc. All relatively cheap things but all keep the kids occupied
Camp in the garden.
Borrow a tent if you haven’t got one and camp out in the garden. If your kids have been bugging you for a sleepover, this is a perfect opportunity. Don’t forget the marshmallows.
Go for walks. Go for bike rides. You can check out my guide to teach your child to ride a bike. Get a daily bus ticket and go on the busses all over town you. You might find a whole new area you never knew about.
Bird feeders, wind chimes, junk models can all be made from household rubbish. Have some fun with it first and then throw it out after.
Blankets, chairs, washing lines, pegs, golfing umbrellas and parasols can all be used to make some awesome dens. Even cardboard boxes and garden canes can be used.
Go to a PYO farm.
Entry is normally free and you only pay for what you pick. Pick something nice like strawberries and go home and make some jam or put them in a trifle. Maybe a plum pie. We went last year and got some lovely corn, courgettes and squashes
Join the National Trust.
For a monthly fee, you can get free entry into many places of historic interest or natural beauty. They also have a page on their website that gives you a list of 50 things to do before your 11 and 3/4 it’s all stuff you can do for free!
Be a Nature Detective.
Check out the Woodland Trust Nature Detectives website – loads of printable nature stuff, hunts, ID sheets, colouring pages, craft ideas…
The worlds largest treasure hunt. Download an app onto your phone and use GPS to direct you to geocache locations. Some will have clues, some will have treasure and almost all of them have some sort of log you can sign to say you found it. Start with the easy ones and build up. Maybe plan a walk hitting as many caches as you can.