A break from school without breaking the bank
A break from school without breaking the bank
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop

It’s the school holidays! But this is one of the odd ones. Just nine days. Barely enough time for your children to get bored. Not even long enough to attempt to break the Guinness world record for living under water (240 hours). It’s not even a proper holiday for many parents- the working ones who are holding out for the end-of-year silly season- so chances are this will mean lots of grandparents helping out, or play dates with friends for your kids.

Being a working parent is tricky. Flu season at school means you hope your boss will understand when you have to stay at home (or that your own business will manage to keep itself going). Holidays stir a nerve-wracking glance at the costs of holiday care versus unpaid leave. Even for stay-at-home parents, finding activities which are fun and free for kids during holidays is a bonus.

Whenever I ask my children for suggestions of what they’d like to do, they reach for the impossible first. Play centres, theme parks, restaurants and cinemas are top of the list. I have to break their spirits, slowly, get them to fit in with reality...

Ready-made kid-friendly businesses are the easy way out, but at a cost. There’s a cost to free stuff, too: A walk in the forest is only mildly interesting unless you turn big leaves into boats by stitching them with twigs, and have a river race. A trip to the beach is hard work- collecting “mermaid money” (round, flat shells) and digging a hole to the other side of the world is tiring! We’ve spent lots of time discussing what country we’d pop out in, after escaping being boiled in molten magma. I still say the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Being creative in the home takes effort. It means stockpiling craft material and stationery, and not being afraid to get glue in places you didn’t know you had. If you check out your local stores, you’ll find that you can buy raw clay or cardboard or paints at a cost far cheaper than a day to a cash-guzzling venue, and you’ll also create something to remember the holidays with.

I’ve found that after years of coaching them to get their creative juices flowing, making suggestions for models and things to do, my kids are getting it. Now they’ll ask me if they can use stuff: “Dad”, they’ll ask, “can we use that old box and those red candles to make an atomic bomb?”

That’s the time to take them out for a greasy burger.

I bet you have loads of ideas for keeping kids busy without breaking the bank. What are you going to get up to in the holidays? (If you are travelling, I hope you all have safe journeys).

If you see a house in the suburbs with a mushroom cloud above it, you know I haven’t been paying attention...

What are you doing to entertain your kids this holiday? Send us an email to chatback@parent24.com and you could win a R250 kalahari.com voucher.

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