The Real Cost of Living: School Summer Holidays There's lots of free, fun activities you can do with your kids this school summer holiday

21 Jul 2015 | COMMENTS: 0 | Author: Ryan Smith | The Real Cost of Living

As the 6 week school summer holidays get underway, it can be daunting thinking about how your pay-check is going to stretch to entertaining the kids day-in, day-out.

The average family apparently spends more than £2,000 on family outings during the summer break – approximately £379 per week. According to a report by insurance provider Aviva, this can lead to an almost 13% rise in household debt throughout the period.

Because many parents will also take time off during the school break to spend more time at home with the kids and cut down on childcare, this can lead to around a 7% decline in income – not ideal when coupled with the increase in debt.

The increased cost of family activities can make it seem easier (and more affordable) to spend time in front of the TV. But while there’s nothing wrong with that in short doses, everybody needs stimulation and to stay active.

We’ve asked some childcare professionals how they keep the costs down when entertaining kids over the summer.

Holly Poppins

Holly Poppins is a nanny with over 10 years’ experience; she blogs about childcare as well as hosting a weekly Youtube show.

The first thing Holly recommends you do is to draw up on a large piece of paper a table of each day and week in the holidays. This way you can clearly see what days you have free and when you have booked an outing.

Free activities can be fun

Not all activities have to be costly. Do some research around your local area and see if there are any free local events on during the summer holidays. You could also write lots of free activities on lolly sticks e.g. a trip to the library; feed the ducks; movie afternoon, and each free day let your children can select a lolly stick from a jam jar to decide what activity will happen that day!

Start a toy library

If your children are getting bored with their toys, why not suggest to friends that you do a toy swap? You could swap some Lego for a train set, then swap back at the end of the week! Just make sure you remember what you have given away and received. This would be a great activity to get a small number of families involved in and it doesn’t just have to stop at the end of the holidays!

Pack a picnic

Packing a picnic for your family will significantly bring the cost of your outings down, as cafes or restaurants at attractions are never cheap! Make sure you stock your cupboards up with lots of bread, sandwich fillings and picnic items so you’ve got plenty of supplies for those hungry children. If you’re worried about carrying it all around, just pack a cool box in the car and go and collect it at lunch time, just explain to the staff where you are going and they may give you a stamp so you don’t have to pay twice.

Plan your activities

Planning the places you wish to visit in advance will mean that you will be able to spread the cost over the whole of the summer holiday. Taking a family of 4 to the farm, to Legoland and then the cinema wouldn’t be cheap, so spread these activities out over the 6 weeks to ensure that you won’t feel the effect of the spend so much! Planning when you will visit these places will enable you to research their facilities properly and perhaps time it around any special events that they may be holding. Spreading them out and informing your children when you will be going will give them something to look forward to!

Buy tickets in advance

You can book many activities or attractions in advance online or over the telephone; do this and you may be able to save yourself some serious cash! For example if you book Legoland only 2-6 days in advance you will save 10%, but booking 7 days or more in advance you can save 25%! Definitely worth doing, a clever way to save quite a bit of money.

Aimee Foster

Aimee Foster is a work-from-home mum of three, and runs Mumamie, a site dedicated to helping mums makes friends with fellow mums!

Find free activities

Most councils put on free events for children over the summer holidays. My local council organises free Summer Fun Days every week at different parks with bouncy castles, farm animals and crafts. Check your council’s website to see their diary of events. Also, most Children’s Centres often have free groups for under 5s to attend every week.

Make the most of other free activities

The park, the beach, nature walks, splash parks, building forts in the garden etc. Search ‘free kids activities’ on Pinterest and you will find hundreds of ideas of things you can do and make with the little ones.

Take food with you when you go out

If you go out to theme parks, farm parks, aquariums etc. take snacks and a packed lunch with you. This will save you a fortune as you avoid paying high premiums on the food and drink sold on the premises.

Be organised

Make a list of activities, events and trips you can afford to do over the holidays and schedule them into your calendar. That way you can plan ahead, book things in advance to save money and make sure you are prepared.

Organise dinner dates with their friends

Your children can help plan the menu, buy the ingredients and cook the meal. Ask your children to think of a theme for each dinner date and incorporate fancy dress, music and arts and crafts (such as making name cards and place mats) according to the theme.

Hannah Taylor

Hannah Taylor is an experienced nanny based in South Yorkshire, and director of recruitment company Woodland Nannies.


Pack up a picnic and head to the local park with lots of friends! Take bats, balls and play games such as rounders or cricket. If you belong to the National Trust or the RSPB, they also have lots of activities free to members, such as pond dipping and nature hunts.

Go on a Woodland adventure

Climbing trees; collecting different leaves; making a den; guessing the age of trees; finding bugs; make a natural head garland; make your way into the wood with your children and let them navigate you all back out again! Children LOVE exploring, so the possibilities are endless.

Organise your own sports day or mini Olympics

Egg & spoon races; running; skipping; sack races; welly wanging. It’s easy to do, great fun and helps keep kids active.

If it’s raining, get baking!

Cakes and biscuits are always a hit. They could even sell them if appropriate, with Money going to a charity. Older children could even do a come dine with me event with their friends.

Get on a train, tram or bus and head somewhere

Anywhere! Children love to go on a mini adventure. Take some notepads and draw things you see.


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