7 ways to survive the school hols on a budget

Keeping the kids entertained during the summer holidays needn’t cost a fortune if you follow MoneySuperMarket’s money-stretching tips

Family looking at skeleton in museum

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School’s (almost) out for summer, but keeping the kids entertained can end up being a real pain in the pocket.

So if you’re not sure how you’re going to survive the next few weeks, here are our top tips to keep the kids occupied without breaking the bank…

1. Make the most of free attractions

There are plenty of events and attractions taking place over the summer which won’t cost you a penny. Check local press to find out what’s on near you, or contact your local council.

For example, if you live in the north west of England, you could head along to the Manchester’s One Big Summer Weekend a free three-day event at the start of the holidays which includes a teddy bears’ picnic, a bear hunt and a story-telling igloo.

The weekend runs from Friday July 22 to Sunday July 24.

Or if you’re near Bristol and your kids are Wallace and Gromit fans, you could visit the special exhibition of Gromit statues on display at the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre from Monday July 25.

It’s free to visit, although there is a suggested £2 entry donation, which goes to The Grand Appeal in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital charity.

2. Find a free museum

There are loads of museums countrywide which don’t charge for entry all year round.

In London, it’s free to get into the British Museum, Science Museum, Horniman Museum & Gardens and the Museum of London.

If you live in Hull, you can visit the Hull Maritime Musuem where exhibits include a whale skeleton and ship models.

If you live in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Museum has lots of natural science and historical artefacts, whilst the Armagh Country Museum has art and displays on the natural world.

3. Play games

Think up games which can keep the kids occupied without you having to spend any money.

Scavenger hunts – where the children race to find all sorts of different objects – always go down well, especially if there’s a prize for the winner.

You can either make it outside so they have to find things like a feather, a dandelion and the roundest stone possible, or if it’s wet you can keep them busy inside by getting them to search for as many items as they can with names beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

4. Split summer childcare costs

If you’re a working parent, you’ll know only too well how quickly the cost of summer childcare can mount up.

Speak to other working mums and dads and see if you can share childcare bills by hiring one person to look after all your children at the same time.

Or, if you only work part-time, offer to have friends’ children over on your days off in return for them looking after yours when you need to be at work.

5. Ask the family for help

Another way to reduce childcare bills during the summer is to enlist the help of grandparents or other family members.

According to car hire company Europcar, grandparents typically look after two of their grandchildren for a total of 11 days during the summer holidays.

6. Use loyalty points to pay for days out

Millions of us have loyalty points stored up which can be redeemed against the cost of days out at theme parks and restaurant meals.

For example, if you have a Sainsbury’s Nectar card, every 500 points you have is worth £2.50 if you put them towards your shopping, but they are worth double the value when used to purchase tickets to Merlin attractions such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures. 

Similarly, if you’ve been collecting points on your Tesco Clubcard, you can boost their value by putting them to Clubcard Rewards vouchers which can again be redeemed for days or meals out.

7. Get cooking

There are loads of easy recipes available for children and they will love producing their own meals. 

Encourage them to get stuck in helping with the weighing and mixing of ingredients. Cupcakes are always a good idea as they can spend ages decorating them with coloured icing and sprinkles – and you can all enjoy them once they are finished.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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