Keeping kids entertained for six or more weeks can feel like a full-time job. This year, the recession means even more families have limited spare cash.
So, expensive entertainment is out and frugal fun is the name of the game.
If your parental purse is feeling the strain, what can you do to keep the summer costs down? Here are a few ideas.
Pre-agree the pounds
Youngsters on a day out can be demanding and there is nothing worse than being unable to enjoy a family trip because you are worrying about spending on souvenirs and treats.
Talk to your children before you set out and explain that there is a fixed budget to the day. If they’re old enough to understand, then outline the budget and tell them how much you are willing to splash out on extras.
Encouraging kids to think responsibly about money will help them in the future too, so it is worth taking the time to teach.
Going out gratis
There are a huge number of museums and galleries that are free, and have been since 2001.
You might be thinking of London and its Natural History Museum and Tate galleries, but every region is filled with hidden local treasures.
From museums of local history, to hiking trails, there is a tonne of free fun to be found. The internet is filled with advice.
Share the shifts
If you are a working parent, the summer can be a really tough time. Even if you enrol your children in summer activities during the day, many of these finish in the early afternoon.
Some parents are lucky enough to have grandparents and relatives willing to pick up the slack, but for those who do not, childminders can be an additional expense.
Why not agree a rota with other parents you know and share the work? Being with friends helps keep the kids entertained and you can concentrate at the office knowing they are having fun.
Review your rights
If you have a child under the age of six, or a disabled child aged 17 or under, then you have a right to request a flexible working pattern and your employer must seriously consider your application.
Working parents who have been with the same employer for a year or more can take up to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child until its fifth birthday. Of course, for most people going without pay isn’t a viable option.
Some employers offer staff help with holiday childcare, through schemes like vouchers and workplace nurseries, so ask your HR department if anything’s available.
Discover some deals
When you’re planning days out over summer, have a hunt for decent offers or discount vouchers and get as much bang for your buck as you can.
Here at moneysupermarket.com, we have vouchers covering everything from days out to meals in, including 50% off at Pizza Hut
, 2-4-1 entry to Alton Towers
and discounted entry to Madame Tussauds
For mums and dads wanting to reward themselves after the kids are in bed, there is also £5 off at Vintage Wine Gifts.
It is also worth checking the activities section of travelsupermarket.com for details of low-cost family entertainment. You can search both within the UK and overseas.
The beach on a budget
If you’re still planning a family holiday this year, there a few ways of bringing the costs down.
Use travelsupermarket.com’s flight comparison tool to find the cheapest flights on offer. If you can fly midweek then you can often find better bargains.
There are also plenty of fun trips to be had in the UK and, by camping or caravanning, families can enjoy a traditional break without breaking the bank.
Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.