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11th August, 2021 |

8 minute read

Summer guide to entertaining kids on a budget

Written by Jo Armstrong, marketing advisor

As a full-time working parent myself, the summer school holidays are a juggling act. You want to fill your days ‘making memories’ but need to manage that against everyone’s financial and emotional wellbeing too.

Here’s my top tips on how to survive, and enjoy, those long weeks until September:

1. Budget

Make a plan and try to stick to it. I balance free activities (visits to parks are our favourite) with more expensive days out. Work out what you can afford to spend over the whole of the holidays and then divide it equally over the weeks.

Our budget calculator can help with this too.

2. Plan ahead...

Research how much days out will cost, including transport in advance.

Check National Rail and your local bus providers for details of free children’s tickets too.

Check for discount codes or vouchers from sites such as:

And lots of attractions now offer annual passes so you can visit during other holidays.

3. …but don’t over plan!

Planning quieter days is just fine. Pyjama days in our house are a firm favourite and let me get the house back into some sort of order too!

Don’t beat yourself up about screen time either; perhaps have a TV day and build that all-important sofa den?

4. Make the most of the great outdoors

Okay, so the great British summer weather can sometimes go against us but on the sunny days, why not head outside?

Free activities include a park day, the beach, a walk along the river to feed the ducks, or playdates at a friend’s house or yours.

Some charities like Family Holiday Association and YHA summer camps can offer help with subsidised camping trips or a free respite break too.

5. Libraries and museums

Lots of local museums offer free or low-cost workshops over the summer holidays and the library is always free. Cinemas and theatres also do reduced-rate tickets.

These are all great rainy day activities and many allow you to take your own picnic and have indoor areas for this too.

6. Feeding the hungry hoard

The biggest cost for me during the holidays is how much food my kids get through! Here's some ideas for keeping the costs down:

  • Stockpile bulk-buy items, if you can
  • Plan meals in advance
  • Take a shopping list with you on the big shop
  • Pack-up last night’s dinner leftovers as a picnic lunch for the following day

Food surplus apps such as TooGoodToGo and Olio are great and I’m always on the lookout for the reduced food in the supermarket.

The Trussell Trust also runs a selection of activities with free breakfast and lunch in some areas too.

7. Get September ready

September’s here before we know and it's time to buy the new school uniform. Have a look in local charity shops, chat with parents who might have uniforms to pass on and some schools are now doing swap shop uniform events too.

Check with your school if your children really need a branded piece of uniform – would a plain jumper without the school badge be okay?

Some councils provide one-off grants to help with the costs of purchasing uniforms so do check with your local council.

8. Be kind to yourself

It’s okay to not be okay all of the time.

If you can, make some time for yourself to unwind, relax and talk to other parents, friends, and family. And reach out and talk to someone if you’re struggling.

Organisations like the NSPCC and Samaritans can help as well.

We’re here to help

If you’re struggling with money, remember we’re here to help. Call us on 0345 141 4663 and ask for a referral to our Financial Inclusion team for any money worries.

Over to you!

 Tweet us and share your money-saving ideas on how to manage the summer holidays.


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