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Fun on a budget! 14 ways to keep your kids entertained over the holidays

24 September 2018

Some parents may agree that it feels like school holidays are always just around the corner. Those periodic weeks of the year where parents seek to keep the kids as busy as possible. It’s a blessing to spend so much time with your little ones, however it can get expensive.

Research by comparison site found that on average, Australian parents are forking out about $600 to keep their kids entertained during the school holidays1.

It may sound far-fetched, but even little things like transport or buying bottles of water can add up. $2K school holidays aren’t exactly an overseas trip for four.

But why spend big? Thankfully Australia is blessed with great weather and great entertainment. There are many free and low-cost opportunities available to parents to occupy their children’s attention. Even looking through some of your old cupboard and drawers can yield forgotten means to entertain your young ones.

So, from trips to the beach to craft days at home, we’ve put together a few school holiday activities that are affordable, yet still fun for the family!

Have fun outside

If the sun is shinging head outside and give these five simple activities a go.

1. Try backyard camping

You just need a tent, pillows, sheets, blankets, and a torch. Teach the kids how to make hand shadows on the walls, play a board game together, or if you don’t have a tent, pull out some old sheets and try making your own fort. The more pillows, the better!

2. Give gardening a go

Some kids enjoy getting their hands dirty once in a while! And gardening is a great and affordable way to get them outdoors and feed their curiosity. Considering using the opportunity to start learning by identifying flowers, weeds, trees and insects - you could even encourage them to start their own veggie patch! If you don’t have much of a garden to explore, consider an afternoon making a terrarium for inside.

3. Explore bike riding tracks

Check your local council website for bike riding tracks in your area. They may have a list of the best spots to play or the best bike riding tracks. Local councils know it’s school holidays and may even have an event planned. Bike out to a local kid-friendly café for a break halfway through (and buy yourself a well-earned coffee).

4. Visit a National Park

Consider visiting a national park which you haven’t yet been to. You can spend the day bush-walking, looking out for animals or trying to identify flowers and trees. A good way to get a bit of exercise and learn more about the country. Consider bringing along some food for a picnic at one of the many rest areas along walking trails or bring along a camera or smartphone for the kids to have a go at some nature photography. Linking technology and the outdoors can be a great way to get kids interested (just make sure your technology is insured for accidents away from the home).

5. Head to the beach

We’re fortunate in Australia to be surrounded entirely by coastline with over 10,000 beaches. Maybe that’s why spending a day on the beach is one of our favourite past times. If it’s not far to get to your nearest beach, consider a day trip among the sand and surf. Your kids can build sandcastles, dig holes or explore rock pools. But always remember to swim between the flags and be sun smart!

Entertaining your kids inside

If the weather does decide to turn, then don’t fret. Here’s a few ideas that could help save the day.

6. Get creative with craft days

Check your home office for paper, pens, glue sticks, and tape. Or if you’ve got a couple of dollars to spare, invest in some cheap craft supplies. You can find activities for free like colouring-in templates online or origami instructions if the kids are looking for more of a challenge.

7. Get baking and cooking

Simple snacks like biscuits, blueberry pancakes, or vegetable kebabs can be a real winner in the kitchen. Baking teaches kids to follow instructions, learn about measurements, and is sure to keep their tummies full (for a little while). Baking ingredients are generally low cost and you can even split tasks between kids to teach them about teamwork and sharing.

8. Try some science experiments

Dust off the lab coats to try a few safe science experiments. Try adding bicarb to vinegar with a little food colouring, making safe slime or projecting a rainbow using a hose in the backyard. There are lots of safe options to entertain the kids and help foster their curiosity!

9. Book in a sleepover and movie marathon

If the kids have already watched everything on the shelf at home, check your local library for free movies, or do a movie swap with some friends. There are also a number of free streaming platforms available. Don’t forget the homemade popcorn!

10. Calm things down with some DIY Yoga

Yoga is an affordable activity you and the kids can do together. At home, in the park, or the backyard - it’s never too early to start learning. Yoga can help improve your children’s balance, flexibility, and concentration.  And if you don’t have yoga mats, towels will work just fine.

Track your school holiday spending

If you’re a Suncorp Bank customer, you can add your accounts to the Suncorp App. Then, use the App’s Dollar Tracker feature to automatically categorise your spending into (up to) 14 expense categories. It can help you see exactly where your money is going.

Discover the Suncorp App

Old skool fun and games

11. Get out the board games

It’s time to dust off the old Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, or Pictionary, because board games are making a huge comeback. If you don’t own any board games, a pack of cards offers just as much entertainment. If you’re feeling lucky, check out your local library or second-hand shop for board games.

12. Play some party games

Head to the park or make do in your backyard with these affordable games. You could try the classic egg and spoon race, host a paper plane competition, or have a go at sack races (if you don’t have any sacks, old pillowcases are a good substitute). Mark out your start and finish lines and be sure to stock up on water during the day.

13. Grab the chalk and create hopscotch

An oldie but a goodie. All you need is chalk and some concrete! An empty driveway, footpath or basketball court is your canvas - so get creative. Even encourage your kids to see if they know any games or can make one up!

14. Play some backyard cricket

It’s a national pastime for a reason! A couple of recycling bins make for good wickets, and a spare pair of shoes is an easy way to mark out the creases. Your job is to field the team! Invite the neighbours, school friends, or family – it’s an activity for everyone! Just remember to rotate the positions so everyone gets a turn.

If school holidays aren’t that simple in your house then you may want to consider portioning away money through the year to make those 2 – 4 weeks a little more manageable. Suncorp’s Everyday Options Account allows you to open up to 9 sub-accounts, which you can use to focus your saving and spending.

Explore the Everyday Options Account

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