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How to keep the kids entertained affordably this summer

How to keep the kids entertained affordably this summer

What do kids want?

An unusual blog topic given I don’t have children, but here’s my take on how to keep kids entertained.

I have a wonderful seven year old nephew Jody, who regularly ‘comes on holiday’ for a week with his Auntie Caroline. This year’s summer visit is mid-August and I’ll be honest in saying his summer visits are my favourite as the weather is good and we can get outdoors. It certainly makes my planning of his ‘holiday’ much easier.

Hats off to those of you who manage a whole six weeks with your little people. After a week I’m usually ready for some recovery time which consists of sleep and tidying the bombsite that my house has become!

With his visits, always comes some pressure to make his time not only enjoyable but also memorable. The holiday of all holidays!

How to keep kids entertained with great days out

When these holidays with Auntie Caroline first started I made the mistake of planning lots of great days out usually with some fairly expensive activities. What I thought was going to be the best of times always left us both a bit flat.

Last year’s trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park (which I love and would highly recommend ordinarily) was a case in point. Mid-August, it was sweltering hot so all the animals were in hiding; the park was full of people and he moaned the entire way round. Even the ice-cream bribery didn’t work to gee him up. Let’s just say we were both glad to get home!

What I’ve learnt from these mistakes, is what he wants and enjoys most is my time and attention. I’ve let go of the pressure, the expectations and now consider the week a success if I return him to his parents in one piece. Can’t lower the bar much beyond that!

Time and attention

There are lots of adult and child benefits to one on one time together including:

  • Increased social skills
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Higher self-esteem, self-expression and happiness
  • Improved problem solving and decision making ability
  • Greater creativity and motor skills

In my case there is also a dramatic improvement in my powers of persuasion, as I swear it would be easier to negotiate with terrorists than with Jody. The kid is a stubborn as a mule!

Negotiations aside, I have to admit that I love our one on one time. Seeing the world through his eyes is just spectacular. We have so much fun and being able to switch off from every day life to just focus on ‘being’ is a wonderful feeling. He definitely brings out the best in me.

And at the end of the week, hearing him ask ‘when can I next come on holiday?’ literally shatters my heart. I know he’s loved the time together as much as I have.

Keeping it affordable: cheap days out for kids ideas

As a parent you may well have tried many affordable summer activities already but here’s what’s been the most successful in the Allen household:

  • An assault course – This has hand’s down been the most loved activity of the summer. Together we use items from around the house and garden to build an assault course in the garden. Hours and hours of fun as we change the course to make it more difficult and time each lap to see how fast he can complete it.
  • A scavenger hunt – I usually hide snacks and tokens around the garden with clues leading him to the next one. This one keeps him out of trouble and entertained for a while. The tokens are for other planned activities so he feels like he’s being rewarded for his efforts.
  • Picnics – We are lucky to have the beautiful Bluebell Wood and Little Switzerland within walking distance. Both are great nature areas to explore. I sometimes create him a ‘spot the wildlife’ bingo card to check off as we walk round before settling down on a picnic blanket to enjoy a spot of lunch. Taking the frisbee or football with us keeps him engaged before the walk home.
  • Crafting/Baking – Jody has a definite sweet tooth so his joy at a morning baking is primarily due to the thought of getting to eat our creations. Gingerbread elephants are a firm favourite. We also love crafting. Hours sat together making models, drawing, and last year making Halloween decorations (no idea why he came up with that in August) are all good fun. A box of Lego to put together can be fairly a cheap activity too especially if you shop at the likes of B&M. This year we are going to make bath bombs so I can relax and unwind after he’s gone to bed!
  • The park – He loves the park and can literally spend hours climbing and swinging on the frames. The first time gave me a bit of heart attack as some of it looked pretty high and dangerous threatening my goal of taking him home in one piece. Nowadays I take my kindle and sit in the sun while he enjoys himself.
  • TikTok – Creating music and dance videos is hilarious. We don’t actually post them to social but learning a dance and filming it is so funny.

Other activities that I’m planning to try this year are:

  • Building a bee box – Jody loves helping me in the garden and greenhouse and loves wildlife, so this year we are going to attempt to build and paint a bee box for the garden. He’s just done a school project on bees so he can tell me all about their importance.
  • Glamping – We are going to pitch a tent in the garden, cook outdoors, toast marshmallows and then do some constellation spotting under the stars. Anyone who knows me, knows I like my amenities so this one really is pushing me outside my comfort zone.
  • Make a time capsule – I love the idea of him being able to look back years from now at what we did this summer with his very own time capsule full of keepsakes and memories.

But if you want to spend some money

Great days out can be had without spending a fortune. Here’s some ideas:

  • A day at the seaside – Who doesn’t love sun, sand and sea! A day trip to Filey or Cleethorpes can be inexpensive and great fun. Take a picnic and plenty of SPF.
  • The Woodland Trust – Membership of The Woodland Trust gives you access to over 1000 places to visit. Visit their website to find a wood near you. And you are supporting the important conservation work that they do.
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Park – Don’t pick a scorching day is my advice! This can be an educational day out which is also jam packed with fun. The park also does a lot of conservation work and rescue animals from terrible situations around the world. If I’m spending money, I certainly prefer it to be on activities like this.
  • Go Ape  One for the brave but if you feel like whizzing through the air on a zip line after clambering through the trees, this one is for you. Jody loved it and I know for sure that it’s going to become a yearly activity for us. Normanby Hall is a great local venue where you can make a full day out of it.
  • Ninja Warrior – This is top of Jody’s wish list which probably makes sense given how much he loves an assault course. Leeds & Sheffield both have venues so if we get a rainy day I think this will be where we end up. Wish me luck!

If you are spending money on activities this year, remember to set yourself a budget so you don’t end up spending a small fortune which only causes you stress. There’s plenty you can do for free without causing yourself hardship.

Look for discount codes as you may be able to find offers that help to reduce your costs. My last top tip would be to consider ‘pooling’ your money or time with other childcare givers to help reduce cost and workload. A few hours off here and there could be just the tonic to get you through the school holidays. Be it other parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, use your support network to help.

Relax and enjoy

Kids don’t stay kids forever and the best memories will be the ones of you doing fun stuff together. Inflation means money is tight for many of us right now so don’t feel pressurized by people you know or by social media to create the summer of all summers. Time and attention is where it’s at! Get creative, relax and enjoy.

For more help and advice or to receive a complimentary guide covering wealth management, retirement planning or Inheritance Tax planning, contact Yorkshire Financial Planning on 01482 275540 or complete our contact form here.

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