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.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
Is it time to turn your back on Isas?
How to get the best return from your cash
Make money as a mystery shopper
How to start your own internet business
The whole truth about legal fees: Conveyancing can knock a big hole in home-buyers' finances. To get the best deal you must cross-examine solicitors about their charges, says Sue Fieldman
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 Arrest made after man is found by the side of the road with his penis cut off
- 3 Michael Schumacher 'experience' gives F1 legend chance to 'show his character', says Lewis Hamilton
- 4 Girl found in the Amazon rainforest with neighbour Grover Morales after going missing for 7 months
- 5 Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
iJobs Money & Business
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£37000 - £40000 per annum + £20000 benefits package: Pro-Recruitment Group: **...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Corporat...
£80000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Opportu...
Day In a Page
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
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden