School summer holidays: Keep kids active and stay in pocket
School holidays can be an expensive time for parents, but Chiara Cavaglieri has some ideas to keep costs down
Saturday 13 July 2013
School will be breaking up for summer and with the holidays stretching out for a mammoth six weeks, household budgets are likely to be under the cosh. Indeed, parents will spend a whopping £460 entertaining their children this summer, according to a new report, pumping a further £119 of petrol as the “mum and dad taxi service”.
The Post Office’s annual Parents’ Summer Spending Report also revealed that some doting mothers and fathers (17 per cent) plan on working overtime, or taking on a part-time job in order to pay for keeping the kids busy.
Others plan to cut back on their weekly shop and some are even considering taking a “mortgage holiday” or ignoring the household bills to cover costs.
“Parents’ finances are becoming more and more stretched so it’s not surprising so many are worried about the amount spent on entertaining this summer.
“Six weeks can seem like a long time to keep your kids entertained and pay for it, but there are ways to keep costs down,” says Henk Van Hulle from the Post Office.
Professional childcare is usually the biggest hit, so check whether there are free or subsidised places at local schools, libraries, community centres and youth groups. Your local Family Information Service will hold up-to-date details of local childcare in your area, but you should also call your local council to find out if they offer anything of interest.
You may even bag a freebie. For example, Kent County Council is giving away free Young Explorers packs (containing a Frisbee, yo-yo, the Kids Trails magazine and activity sheet, colouring-in sheets, etc).
Corporate companies also try to win favour offering family discounts and freebies. The FA Tesco Skills (http://tescoskills.thefa.com) offers free football coaching during the school holidays at Skills Centres throughout England, open to boys and girls aged 5-11 years of all abilities. There are even free tennis coaching sessions up for grabs (see www.tennisforfree.com), perfect for a budding Andy Murray.
Camps are another great way for the kids to gain some independence and give parents some time off. In England, National Citizen Service (www.thencsnetwork.org.uk) offers three-week, residential courses for 16-17 year olds, with two of those weeks away from home, capped at only £50 per person.
If you missed out this year, there are still ways to save on other camps – Co-operative members can save 15 per cent at Super Camps (offering holiday day camps for four to 16 year olds throughout the UK) and the Youth Hostels Association is awarding 200 bursaries to children in receipt of free school meals for 40 per cent off their summer camps. Most camps offers discounts for group bookings and siblings too.
Never pay full price for attractions. Track down special offers online as you can usually find two-for-one deals on theme parks, zoos, restaurants and other family days out. Encourage your kids to get their hands on a Blue Peter badge for free access to 200 UK attractions. The badges are awarded to children aged six to 15 years old, awarded for competition winners, interesting letters, stories, poems and pictures.
If you’re a Tesco Clubcard holder, you can also convert your vouchers and get four times the face value on selected theme parks, so that £5 of vouchers is worth £20.
“Don’t forget to use up points on your Tesco Clubcard which can be spent in Legoland and other family parks. If you have Avios points they can also be exchanged on trains and in theme parks if you’re not saving up for flights,” says Jasmine Birtles of Moneymagpie.com.
Check your local cinemas for deals. Cineworld, Odeon and Vue show special screenings on weekend mornings with discounted tickets for kids club members. Vue also offers family tickets (a group of four people, with a minimum of two children all pay the child price), 20 per cent off for teens and discounts for using your Nectar points (500 points knocks £2.50 off).
Many museums have free entry throughout the year so make the most of this during the summer break and bring a packed lunch to save even more money.
Most people live within 40 minutes of a National Trust place and if you buy an adult ticket, up to two children go free at selected properties. There is also a family section full of ideas and details of any special events taking place this summer. It may be worth paying for National Trust family membership which costs from £45 for a family with one adult (children under five go free) and gives you all entry to more than 300 historic houses and gardens.
“For younger children, it’s worth stuffing your bag full of snacks, baby wipes and a packed lunch, and jumping on a bus to try out a different playground across town rather than your usual trip to the swings. For older children, an annual membership to a local farm or adventure playground means you can save money long-term by making multiple trips to a favourite venue,” says Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet.
Extra-special treats don’t need to cost the earth either, so take the time to hunt down the best prices for theatre tickets. Throughout August, a full-paying adult can claim one free child’s ticket plus 50 per cent off for up to two more children, at one of 34 London theatre shows including Wicked, Billy Elliot and War Horse (book via www.kidsweek.co.uk). You can keep travel costs down with a Family & Friends Railcard costing £30 per year and saving you a third on adults’ off-peak travel fares and 60 per cent on kids’ fares.
Finally, do check that you are getting all the financial help that you’re entitled to, whether it’s the 15 hours a week of free, early-learning classes for all three or four year olds, childcare tax credits, or childcare vouchers which may be offered by your employer.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
120,000 - 150,000 chf + bonus: Selby Jennings: A leading Swiss Private Banking...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens