A report has revealed that more than a third of parents have been forced to cut how much they spend on their children. The cost of hobbies, extra curricular activities and sports clubs are the ones being reined in, according to the research by Capital One. But what will this mean for summer holiday entertainment? These days children expect to be taken on holiday and go out for fun-filled – and often expensive – days out. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids amused, but which won’t break the bank.
A guide to free – or cheaper – things to do with the kids
Many towns and cities offer free activities, such as tennis, nature walks and bug and beasty days in local parks. See you council website for information. You could also check out the Scottish Natural heritage initiative Simple Pleasures Easily Found, which offers all sorts of ideas for finding nature and free things to do in local environments, such as parks.
Another idea is to get together with other families and organise a game of rounders or cricket in your local park.
Sport for cheap
Buy your children a pedometer or a milometer for their bikes (a fairly cheap one-off purchase) and then challenge them to walk or cycle a certain number of miles each week of the holidays. You could have a distance chart drawn up and stuck on the fridge, and award prizes for the most miles. Adjust the mileages to suit children of different ages.
The FA Tesco Skills Programme will run free school holiday football sessions for youngsters, both boys and girls. These offer an introduction to playing football and for all abilities. Book up early though to avoid disappointment.
Welsh children benefit from free swimming at weekends and during the holidays. But if you live elsewhere in the UK, check with your local council to see if there are any free kids swimming sessions at a nearby pool. You’ll often find there are free activities or events subsidised by the council.
Go to the beach
A trip to the seaside doesn’t have to cost the earth. There really is no need for mega ice cream, fish and chips and fairground rides. Show the kids how it used to be with bucket and spade fun. Take a kite, a picnic and add some of your own energy and enthusiasm and we bet you’ll find the kids love the back to basics fun day out. If it’s chilly, wear wellies and waterproof jackets and go looking in rock pools.
It doesn’t cost any money to have fun in the wonderful outdoors world. Show kids how to take bark or leaf rubbings, look for five things beginning with “b”, collect odd shaped stones, or take home leaves to make a collage.
Bush camp – in the back garden
There are many cheap tents on the market, or build a den-like tent yourself, and show the kids how to get back to nature. You could cook lunch or tea on a camping stove. If you are looking for a cheaper holiday, then try camping for real. Living under canvas is much more comfortable than you’ll ever imagine, and although you will need to buy the basics to start with, you’ll have all this kit for future holidays.
But what about rainy days?
Oh, we know that it does rain in the summer holidays! Ideas to keep the kids amused on rainy days include checking out The National Trust’s rainy day page
Also look for cheaper cinema deals. According to the Capital One report, parent's spend around £50 a month on leisure activities such as this. But it's possible to cut the cost. Mobile phone customers with Orange, for example, can enjoy 2-for-1 on cinema outings on Wednesdays, and Vue cinemas offer tickets for £1.50 on Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout the school holidays on selected films.
Stay at home – and get out the arts and crafts stuff. Paper, coloured card, glitter, glue and a bit of imagination can create all sorts of amazing things. Toilet roll inners can become mini spaceships or an egg carton could be turned into a caterpillar. Switch on your Blue peter brain and sit down to help the kids out!
Do you have any ideas for free – or cheaper – activities this summer? We'd love to know...