The summer holidays are looming and after a year of lockdowns and restrictions, thinking of ways to keep your kids entertained while they’re at home this summer might be overwhelming. After months of home schooling, another six weeks might be just too much to think about. Many people have struggled with standard day to day things since the start of the pandemic, and as we return to normal, those usual activities and tasks can feel strange and sometimes scary.
The pandemic has also put a strain on many people’s finances. While acting like a giant financial reset button for some, for others who’ve been subjected to furlough or redundancy, money can be a stress-inducing topic. Especially when paired with the concept of entertaining your children in July, August and some of September.
There are plenty of ways to keep entertainment costs low over summer, and one of the best places to start is with free days out. In London and other cities around the UK, there are plenty of free museums and exhibitions that can keep you busy and fascinated for hours. Children may enjoy the Science Museum or the Natural History Museum more, but the V&A, British Museum and the Tate galleries still offer plenty of amusement. You would only need to pay for the train fare into town, and you can continue to keep the costs low by taking a picnic and making sure you don’t travel in rush hour – not only are peak train fares more expensive, but you might also disgruntle daily commuters.
Cities host a wealth of fun, free or low-cost activities, and London in particular has 2 for 1 offers on plenty of attractions as long as you travel by train. You can also find great 2 for 1 deals on the side of some cereal packets, halving the cost of places like Madame Tussauds, Thorpe Park and other adventure worlds. Even if you don’t fancy rollercoasters yourself, it’s an easy way to keep kids of all ages entertained for a few days over summer.
If you don’t live near a city, beaches and parks offer cheap, stress free days out too. Consider alternating with other parents so you also get the break you need. As long as you’ve got ball games or frisbees – often only a couple of pounds in most supermarkets – children will happily play around for the whole day. Take a picnic or treat yourself to a cheap meal like fish and chips to make the day extra special. A good day out doesn’t need to be expensive and some of your kids’ best memories will be made with their family and friends, rather than in expensive play places.
Alternating childcare with friends can also save costs on baby sitting and day care which can sometimes cost more than you might earn doing a day’s work. If you work part time along with other mums or dads, share the responsibilities so one takes care while the other is working. Alternatively, if you work full time but other parents don’t, offer to take care of their kids over the weekend instead. Although it sounds corny, sharing is caring, and six weeks is a long time to occupy your children alone.
Children have incredible imaginations and creativity skills that marketing teams can only dream of. Use this to your advantage: let children play for hours without trying to arrange specific activities. Some days they might need coaching, but a lot of the time children will invent their own games and play with plastic animals, footballs or even sticks from the garden for ages without a care. As long as they remain hydrated and protected from the sun, play dates at home are the easiest way to entertain your kids throughout the holidays.
Set up a paddling pool or even just the sprinkler on a warm day for extra fun or take them to local nature trails and bike parks. An afternoon walking through the woods is far mor exciting for young minds than it tends to be for adults.
There’s no denying that we all deserve a few enjoyable pastimes this summer. Covid-19 has presented a stressful year and a largely boring one. But don’t blow your budget on luxuries if it means facing financial difficulty at the end – while it may be easy to get money quickly with the availability of online credit, borrowing should be reserved for easing general cashflow, rather than big unnecessary expenses. There are plenty of ways to have a good time without falling into financial shortfall!
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