Delirious, an episode of Peppa Pig you’re sure you’ve seen before is on TV, while a fan whirs in the background. It’s hot and your children, free of school for six whole weeks, are getting restless. Their energy levels seem to be surging; the spectre of homework no longer haunts them until September.
You know that they’ll require some mental and physical stimulation if you’re all to survive the summer. But with household finances being squeezed more than ever right now, many options can seem out of reach. Researchers at Loughborough University estimate that the cost of basic goods and services for a typical family with two young children are around £400 a month more expensive than last year.
But, dear parents and grandparents, there are some easy ways to keep the kids entertained – without it breaking the bank. If you’re stuck for inspiration, give one of these cost-friendly options a go.
The first involves good old-fashioned outdoor fun. If you have a garden, then don’t underestimate the power of a garden hose. Simply creating a sprinkler for the children to run through can lead to great entertainment – and it has the added benefit of keeping them cool on hot days. Investing in a paddling pool (some 7ft models retail at £25) could be well worth the money.
Alternatively, getting the young ones into gardening by planting shrubs or pressing flowers can keep them entertained – the Royal Horticultural Society has lots of gardening ideas on its website. Who knows, perhaps your children might turn out to be the next Monty Don or Charlie Dimmock.
If you want to stay close to home, then there are apps and websites dedicated to finding activities happening in your local area. Nextdoor, for example, connects neighbours, where you can share events and even sell second-hand items, such as children’s toys.
Further afield, and exploring the countryside can be a great way to get them out of the house and stretching their legs. There are lots of National Trust and English Heritage sites scattered around the country, some of which are World Heritage sites – such as Avebury in Wiltshire – that are completely free to visit.
If it’s more education and culture you’re after – or just some much-needed air-con – then most museums and galleries are completely free to visit. Lots of museums also have dedicated exhibitions for children, with interactive fun, such as Manchester’s Football Museum, where you can have a go at taking a penalty (entry costs £11 for an adult, £6 for a child over five and free for those under five).
When it comes to getting them fed and watered while out and about, many restaurants and supermarket cafes are offering deals for families throughout the summer. At Asda cafes, until September 4, kids eat for £1 seven days a week, irrespective of what adults spend. And Bella Italia lets kids eat for £1 with the purchase of every adult main course on selected days.
The government and businesses have come together to launch Help for Households, aimed at supporting families through the cost of living crisis, so keep an eye on the site for new retail discounts and initiatives that can help ease the pressure.
You can also head to the Which website for more tips on how to save on energy, food and other bills.
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