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.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
iJobs Money & Business
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...
£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...
Day In a Page
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
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