School Holidays on a Budget.

Maybe you’re on a year long budget because you are saving for something wonderful. Perhaps you have no choice but to budget right now because you have 4 children sucking the funds from your account and you’re already broke these school holidays. You’re dreaming of the kids going back to school for your quiet time, but there’s still how many weeks left of the school holidays?!

You might appreciate someone throwing you a bone and giving you some cheap ideas to do these school holidays, especially when it’s boiling hot outside and the children are crying because you won’t let them out in the frying sun. Or you might just like to hear what other mums are doing to keep their children entertained at the moment. I warn you though, if you like expensive, grand activities to do with your children (sailing through the Whitsundays, holidaying in Madrid, scootering around Rome, museums in NY) then don’t bother reading on, it’s not what I’m about in 2011. I’m all about sharing any tips I find that are useful to me and Miss Mimi that save us cash and reduce our carbon footprint. Here are some ideas that we have done lately or that we are intending to do. Low on cost but high on fun and giggles.

1.) Take a trip to your nearest State Park, wander around in there and enjoy the beauty. Feel the absolute embarrassment of watching your child outrun you on a 4 km walk while you struggle up hills, crying that you’re dying. Bring a picnic or check out if there is a BBQ area and take something tasty to BBQ. Note: Take extra water and be sure to go to the bathroom before you leave if you hate looking into a hole-in-the-ground type loo.

2.) Go to the library and borrow heaps of new books, get the children to choose a theme they are interested in right now and learn all about something new. For older kids you could come up with a fun project to capture all that exploration.

3.) Borrow DVDs from the library, pop your own popcorn and have a movie marathon.

4.) Go on night walks around your neighbourhood, your neighbours will probably still have their Christmas lights up till March anyway. If you live in my area, you’re sure to see some illegal fireworks all through January.

5.) Clean out that sandpit but first give your children cups of water mixed with food dye so they can change the colour of the sand, it’s probably due for new sand anyway right?

6.) Rip out some of those toys your kids haven’t seen in months. I pulled out building blocks that Miss Mimi hadn’t played with for awhile and they have been played with lovingly for days now. Note: I also leave these blocks next to my bed so Miss Mimi gets distracted by them when she wakes, plays with them and gives me an extra half hour to sleep in. Score!

7.) Take a drive to the beach. Take your lunch or grab some fish and chips. We went kayaking in Anglesea which only cost our little family $20 for a half hour paddle up and down the river. Miss Mimi got her very own mini paddle to help, we loved it. Note: Half an hour is plenty of time to give those arm muscles a very good workout, especially if The Daddy is useless at steering and you are paddling against the wind.

7a) Build sandcastles at the beach, explore the rock pools, run around in the sand and rest easy knowing that when your children run around like crazy people and stack – it won’t hurt…much.

8.) Take a walk around your area, the park, the local river and collect leaves and rocks and other interesting things. Then do this.

What number am I up to? Oh yeah….

9.) Blow bubbles. Come on, it fascinates me for ages.

10.) Freeze some juice into ice block containers and enjoy the fruity ice in your water.

11.) Have a water fight. You only need a $1 spray gun from a cheap shop but if Santa brought your children those massive Super Soaker guns, take your best shot at them…first!

12.) Bring out those board games. I know you all have a Learning Ladder game there somewhere and if you don’t, well, you know who to call.

13.) Do some puzzles.

14.) Bake muffins, bikkies and cakes together. The kids are eating you out of house and home anyway right? Might as well spend an afternoon making some food, it’ll save you heaps! Wrap them in individual foil and freeze them for later. A great site for gluten free, casein free snacks is http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/ if you have a child with allergies like me.

15.) Visit that friend who has a pool, in fact – just move in with them in January.

16.) Visit those friends who have a better backyard than you, bring some of your homemade muffins so you don’t look like a tightarse.

17.) Buy the kids some cheap art supplies, new textas, recycled paper – keep the paintings for wrapping paper later on when you need it. Use those boxes that the Christmas presents came in, make doll beds, cubbies, paint scenes into them, make pretend cars…ideas are endless here.

17a) Get out those colouring books and have a colouring competition. Be sure you have enough prizes for everyone (a homemade bikkie will suffice..surely, yeah maybe not). One winner for colouring in the lines the best, one winner for the best use of colours etc. Sweet silence and them being occupied will surely ensue! Note: You probably need a better prize; you’ll take the winners to the park?

18.) Clean out the fishtank? No, that’s just a note for me so I don’t forget…

19.) Go and watch a local game of cricket, if you’re into that.

20.) Use that Zoo pass if you have it, use it alot.

21.) Check out online what’s free in your area in the holidays.

22.) Do some sort of water play any way that you can like here and here and here. Do we like water play? Hmmm, a tad.

23.) Leave the children with their father, grandparents or the dog and take some time out for yourself. Go to a friends house and catch up for a drink or 7 and remember that having time to yourself will make you a better parent. Perhaps not if you’re hungover or have friends that always seem to get you into trouble on those girls nights, but you get my drift.

24.) Go out for a Vietnamese dinner, so cheap and tasty!

25.) Go camping, even if it’s in the back yard. I hear it’s great.

26.) And if you are being begged to go and see the latest movie at the cinemas, go on Cheap Tuesdays, movies are a massive rip off these days, you might as well go on a day that they offer it up cheap. Note: If you have a 4 year old girl, don’t bother taking her to see Megamind, you’ll spend the whole time trying to get her to sit down.

There’s more but if you’ve read this far you’re doing well! Are you hiding in a cupboard somewhere and that’s how you got your 10 minutes of peace?

I would love you to give me your ideas on some cheap activities that you and your family are doing these holidays. Please leave a comment so other mums can benefit too as we’re all in the same Parenting Boat. I bet that when we all share our good ideas we will have some pretty excited kids on our hands!

And here are more great ideas to keep you on your toes! Check out the We Play link up.

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