It’s that time again, when all children look excited and all parents look slightly stressed at the thought of entertainment or childcare for the ensuing two weeks. School holidays. A wonderful time, but an expensive one nonetheless.
Before school holidays come around, write out a budget for what you can afford over the break. It’s a great idea to try and save a bit of extra money in the previous month, so you can budget for a couple of treats- a trip to the movies or lunch out. It’s important to remember how much these things cost, however. A trip to the movies will cost your $50 plus so budget accordingly. It’s also a good idea to pre-purchase tickets, or buy them in a booklet, so you can purchase them at a discounted rate. One tip from the Internet was to buy ‘outing’ food at the start of the holidays; a couple of bags of lolls and some pre-packaged chips. These can then be mixed into a bag when you go out.
While it’s great to be able to share memories about the special things you’ve done together. there seems these days to be a panic about entertaining kids throughout the school holidays. Parties at Kids Central, movies, theme parks, holidays away. My memory of school holidays was that I was just happy to not be at school. Why not get each child to suggest an activity they’d like to do (within reason and a budget). And think about frugal things you can do- book readings at the library, a day at the beach, a picnic in the park as opposed to lunch at a cafe.
Organise a couple of play dates throughout the holidays, at home. It’ll give parents a chance to lower childcare costs (or get the house back into something approaching order) and your kids a chance to have a great time without having to spend heaps of money. If you can work out a system with other parents, you’ll all be able to save some money on childcare costs. You can theme the days spent at your house, and cook and dress to match it. Perhaps it’s a french theme, or everyone has to dress as pirates. It’s no additional cost, and a fun way to organise a day in the holidays.
Check out where you can head on a family pass. This is especially important on public transport. When heading out for the day, buying a family pass for travel can save significant money. The same is true for entry to museums, zoos, theme parks. Sometimes, there will be cheaper deals on year-long membership, and you can visit every school holidays at a reduced price. Or plan your week to take advantage of cheaper days; Tuesdays at the cinemas being the obvious contender, or heading to the aquarium after 5pm to take advantage of cheaper prices.
To save on huge entertainment costs, why not make your backyard a place to really spend some time? That could mean investing in a totem tennis or gardening gear. If it’s winter, think about investing in a fussball table for the rumpus room. You can get really cheap ones, and the hours of fun (for adults, as well as kids) make it a very worthy investment.