How many weeks of holiday is that?
The school holidays always tends to break the bank. Kim Norton shares some cost effective tips for school holiday activities!
The holidays are around the corner.  Whether you follow any religion or not, schools are closed and you’re getting dirty looks from colleagues as you take your annual leave and spend a few weeks home with your children.

Never mind the problem that parents get 3 weeks leave and the holidays are 6-7 weeks long and there have already been three others during the year each a few weeks in duration, you’re finally going to be able to go away or be a tourist in your own city and you aren’t paying holiday care or various sport holiday sessions fees.

What can you do that won’t break the bank?

Some are lucky enough to live near the beach which takes care of every morning or evening and most days in-between, but many don’t have that luxury.  Don’t despair, be on the lookout for walking and cycling trails in nature reserves close by or picnic areas near dams that aren’t too far to drive.  Offer to take a group of children out for the day while their moms do the festive season shopping and in return they take your child later in the week so you can shop (or lie in bed reading a book).

Craft days are also fun, which granny or grandpa wouldn’t love a painted mug or glass or wooden box as a gift?  What about some home made bath salts or biscuits?  Rocks painted as paper weights are another favourite.  Depending on the age of your child, this can be days of special time together and your budget and creativity are your only limits (ok, perhaps your patience too).  I must admit that my children and I so enjoy doing this that we start in October each year and look forward to this special time from about July. 

There are museums, planetariums and art galleries that have lower entrance fees than noisy indoor playgrounds.  Visiting local land marks or reading up on the history of the area you live in and visiting areas of interest is sometimes free and an interesting day out. 

Board games are fun for indoor days, and everyone enjoys baking or decorating biscuits.  You can also loan your favourite child hood books from the library to read to your children over the holidays, snuggling up every morning or evening for another chapter.  In the cities there are sometimes plays suitable from toddler age upwards.

Whatever you do or don’t do, I know you’ll enjoy the special time with your children and appreciate their teachers even more. 

Can’t take leave?

During the world cup extra long mid year holidays, a group of 5 of us mothers got together and each chose a day of the week to take leave (mine was a Wednesday) and we each had the five children for our set day.  We stayed home as none of us had enough seats and seat belts in our cars, but water pistols in the garden, baking crunchies and making fun smoothies, walking to the park, soccer balls and getting them to try juggling, playing scrabble, monopoly and twister, watching matches on TV and a jungle gym in the garden kept everyone busy.  Not sure how brave any of us are to try again, but this can be a workable solution.  My manager was pleased I was only off once a week for 5 weeks rather than for a large chunk of time during a fairly busy period. 

Some mothers share with a friend and hire an older teenager or a trained au-pair/nanny for the holiday period and split the cost between the two moms.  Does your company have a room where those of you with pre-primary and young school age children could club together and hire a moon lighting teacher and a teenager (as an assistant) to care for and keep the children occupied at work?

Some families can split their leave so that mom takes her three weeks and then dad takes his and they hope to both be off over either Christmas or New Year so there is some family time together.  This is often our only solution, and at times like this when I spend all day and night doing housework, I realise that as a half day working mother I see more of my children than if I was a stay at home mom with no domestic help (which is my alternative to working).

Have you got a creative holiday idea?

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