Yesterday was the first day in almost 20 years I can recall not actually spending any money.
No morning coffee or pastry, no magazine and, even more surprisingly, no £30 ‘nip out to Waitrose Local for a pint of milk and some bread’. (I’ve tried every which way of doing this shop but somehow extra items always make their way into my basket and, without fail, I buy a family pack of brioche.)
The biggest contributing factor to this is the fact my four-year-old is suffering from chicken pox and, thus, I am house-bound. So, while I probably shouldn’t rejoice too much in this short-term cash surplus, I am going to. Because for the next seven weeks, while the schools are out for summer, I can confidently predict this will not be the case.
Forget surplus I, like most other parents, will be facing deficits of ridiculous proportions.
According to the Trussell Trust charity, over half of parents – 56% – with children aged between five and 16 are worried about the extra cost of entertaining their kids during school holidays. And research from American Express suggests parents with two children will spend, on average, £640 over the piece.
Worrying and expensive times it appears. But does it have to be? Surely there are ways to cut the costs – she says hopefully – without being glued to the telly all day, every day?
Well, settle in, because I found a few that might be worth considering…
- Forget super nanny, what about super-gran?
The average daily cost of a nanny is between £80-£120 which, applied over six weeks, could make that American Express figure appear small. Whereas, last time I checked, grandparents come for “free”. Admittedly, this might involve succumbing to gift and sugar-overload for your offspring and it will (quite rightly) involve some donation of petty cash for outings but surely both are commitments worth making?
- Team Kelloggs
Who knew that breakfast cereal could hold the key to cheaper family days out? I recently discovered – thanks mainly to my wee mum who loves a bargain – that Kelloggs is currently offering a ‘grown-ups go free’ promotion at all Merlin attractions across the UK. This basically means that for the cost of a box of Special K – between £3-£4 depending on where you shop – you could save £33 (if you buy your ticket online) or £46 (if you pay at the gate) off one adult ticket to Legoland (one of the Merlin attractions).
- Make your own fun
As a child, school holidays for me meant playing. Either outside on my bike or at someone else’s house. And my only instruction was to come back when it got dark or I was hungry- whichever came first. I don’t recall any ‘summer-camps’ but I do remember having some of the best laughs ever. Nowadays that just doesn’t happen. Sadly, this is mainly for safety reasons. But, there is something to be said for just enjoying playing. I recently organised a “day out” for my little lady which cost me the princely sum of £3. We went to the local park, armed with our own sarnies, stopping at Poundland for some games. Netmums is bursting with ‘free ideas’ during the holidays / wet weather and is worth checking out for inspiration.
The above suggestions are just a few of the ways I think will help parents to enjoy the summer holidays without breaking the bank. Classics like packing your own lunch for days out, watching out for free council run activities in your area and embracing free public transport travel for kids are also worth doing. And feel free to share any others you have!