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The children are home for summer, and the house looks like a scene from CSI. Sibling claws are out and hackles are up as the novelty of freedom wears off and boredom sets in. You’re not flush and you can’t afford to take the kids on flash days out. So, what can you do to give them a little structure to their day and retain your own sanity? Here’s a list of free or cheap things to do in the summer holidays.
Go Outdoors/Get outside
It’s easy to end up with cabin fever if you find yourself stuck between the same four walls day-in, day-out. Which is exactly when the children get a little over-excited with rough-play, or the squabbling starts.
Pack a Picnic
While the weather’s nice, make the most of it and take them somewhere away from the house for some outdoor fun. Pack up a picnic and take your lunch al-fresco, away from the rules and convention of eating at the table. Remember your picnic blanket, then when they’ve eaten, you can lie down and watch them run around!
Go on an Adventure
With a little research or imagination, there are plenty of places you can take the children. Whether it be your local play area, green space or river/lake, find somewhere to take them on a walk or an adventure. If you have fields nearby, tell them you’re going exploring. Even better, go on a bear hunt, and catch a big one. Don’t forget to pack drinks, snacks, waterproofs and a change of clothes.
Visit Your Local Play Area
Whether you’re a frequent visitor to the children’s park, or it’s something you don’t always get round to, make a point of going at least once a week in the summer holidays. To mix things up and make it exciting, take them to a new play area, or one you’ve only visited a couple of times. Then, when you’ve had enough, lure them away with the promise of an ice cream (at home, with your choice of flavour in a cone with lots of sauce and sprinkles, of course – for a fraction of the price of the ice cream van).
Go For a Bike Ride
Pop those helmets on and go for a leisurely cycle around your local area. If you have the option, take the car and go a little further afield for a change of scene. Every day away from the house is an adventure for the kids, and it doesn’t need to cost anything. You might discover a new favourite place to go on the weekends. Don’t forget snacks and water for a little energy boost, especially as the little ones get tired. See my six summer snack savers for some ideas.
Hunt for Creepy-Crawlies
Whether they (and you!) are freaked out or fascinated by the little creepers, it’s got to be done. Make a list of insects and bugs to look for, and see who can find the most. Take some treats to reward their efforts.
It’s entirely possible to book a short break for very little money. If it’s something you’ve never experienced before, it’s a great way to bond with the children. They love the freedom and adventure of being outdoors. You can pick up a cheap tent from Halfords or Go Outdoors, but if money is really tight, ask around your friends and family to see if you can borrow their kit. If a weekend away sounds a bit too ambitious, try a camping trial in the garden. Armed with some ‘midnight snacks’, a torch and some stories, you can always go home when it gets too much!
Check Social Media for Open Days
A quick search on Facebook will bring up any upcoming events in your area. The summer holidays are always full of events, and many of them are free. Festivals, fairs and open days are a good way to get out for a couple of hours.
Indoor/Wet Weather Things To Do in The Summer Holidays
It’s all very well having several ideas up your sleeve when the weather is nice, but what if it’s pouring with rain and miserable outside? I took the girls to the woods one day this summer, with our waterproofs, but we mis-judged the rain. It came down monsoon-style, and we got soaked. My youngest was in tears as she was wet, cold and miserable. Which is why it’s important to have a back up for when the weather turns bad.
Have a Movie Afternoon
A perfect solution for wet and miserable days: snuggle up on the sofa with a family film and a blanket. Close the curtains and bring on the (home-made) popcorn. If you’ve been out in the morning, this is a wonderful way to wind down and chill with the children. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to fall asleep!
Make a Den
Blankets and kitchen chairs were made for making indoor forts. Depending on how big it needs to be, you might need more than one blanket or some bed sheets, and some pegs. Shroud the frame in a dark blanket, then let the children crawl into their secret cave. You could read some stories from outside the den, or pop a couple of torches and some books inside so they can amuse themselves. Alternatively, place the den strategically in front of the TV with a viewing window. With any luck it’ll keep them quiet for a couple of hours, giving you some much-needed downtime!
Kids LOVE baking, don’t they? If you can cope with the mess – seriously, don’t freak out – let them help and make their own tasty treats. Scones, rock cakes or fairy cakes are easy projects for beginners, and the ingredients will often be found in your cupboard. Either wait for them to cool down and get out for a walk to work up an appetite, or once they’ve scoffed the lot, take them to your local park to burn off the excess energy.
There are so many ideas and things to do or make. Activity Village has a great source of ideas for craft projects, and you can often make something with things you have lying around the house. For more inspiration, take a look at Pinterest. There are many online sources where you can also download free printables for colouring or other activities for the kids to do. The only limit is your imagination!
Visit Your Local Library
Libraries aren’t just for books (although they’re a fantastic free resource for you and your family!). Many libraries also have activities on during the holidays, which makes it the perfect place to get lost in cutting, sticking and pasting on a rainy day. Don’t forget to borrow some books while you’re there and read some inspiring and magical tales in the comfort of your own home at least once a day.
Visit the Garden Centre
A garden centre might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to getting out of the house, but a lot of them often have events or talks on during the holidays. Alternatively, you could go and buy some seeds for the keen green fingers in your family, or just go for a mooch around. Some Wyvale Garden Centres have small soft-play areas for the children to play in (a small charge may apply), and you can enjoy a quiet cuppa while they tire themselves out!
While you’ve probably thought of many of these ideas before, it can be difficult to kick-start your imagination when your kids are squabbling every day. I hope the list has given you some inspiration to go out and enjoy yourself with your children in the summer holidays. Summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you can get on with paying off your debts or saving your money!
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