Summer holidays can be a really expensive time for families. I feel so lucky if we can go away just once a year, whatever the trip, wherever the trip. Our first family holiday happened once we’d had all three of our kids. It was the kind of trip where we needed buggies, nappies and an extra hotel room that we never used.
The one thing I was never told about having a third child was that finding a room for five is near impossible. Not that I would change my third baby for the world – she is definitely worth the price of an overpriced room we never use!
The actual holiday itself is the best bit; we save all year to make sure we can have the best time away without worrying about the cost. My husband always deliberately overestimates so that when we’re left with money in our pockets on the way home, we feel like we’ve won the lottery. But the real challenge is filling the time around the holiday, when the kids are at home with no school work to keep them busy. That can be a struggle.
With two parents working, it’s always about finding the balance between having the kids at summer camp and being at home with them. When they’re at camp I feel guilty that I’m not at home. When they’re at home I feel guilty that I’m not doing enough.
Everything we do together is weather dependant. If the weather is nice, we wake up early, play in the garden, pack a picnic, go on a bike ride, stop off for our picnic, then we get the barbecue on for dinner. I always have a massive batch of chicken and veg skewers in the fridge – they can be cooked from frozen and taken out as and when.
The holidays are even harder when the sun goes into hiding and the rain makes a grand entrance. That’s when it can get really tough. I hate it when my kids say ‘I’m bored!’ so to avoid hearing these words, we play board games, watch movies, or have an indoor picnic and invite all the teddies. For dinner, we plan a menu together and spend hours cooking it. Then we end our evenings by camping out in the living room.
Holidays can be scary. Our kids spend weeks at school, organised and entertained. It’s daunting to think we can’t match the skills of a well-organised teacher. But it really doesn’t have to be scary or expensive.
Kids only want our time and we just have to find different ways of giving it to them that don’t cost the world.
Three budget ideas for family holidays:
There are thousands of farms to choose from (many on the outskirts of cities) and they offer a variety of produce, from courgettes to cherries, for a fun day out picking.
2. Create your own cinema experience
In bad weather, help the kids whip up some easy banoffee popcorn by stirring crushed banana chips and dulce de leche into popped corn and enjoy with a movie.
3. Get crafty
Find out how to make playdough with everyday ingredients using our easy online recipe and let the kids get creative.