School holiday sanity tips: keep the kids happy without breaking the bank
It’s that time of year again, when the looming holidays mean keeping the kids happy with so much spare time to fill. With a bit of creativity the days will fly by, without leaving a hole in your wallet.
In one sense, winter holidays are a chance to unwind and take a break from school runs, after hours activities and rushed mornings trying to get everyone out on time. That’s until you hear the first, “I’m bored,” and the serenity quickly unravels. Get in early with a schedule of activities that won’t break the bank, to banish the dreaded statement for good. Combining all three of these options should do the trick, while keeping small faces away from iPad screens, at least for a bit.
Set a challenge
There’s nothing like a family challenge with an enticing reward on completion, to keep restless minds at bay. Whatever the kids are into at the moment, up the ante by setting a goal to be finished before school starts again. It could be to read a series of books, create an artwork, learn how to play a new song, make a garden, see how much money they can make from extra chores or conquer a trick on the trampoline.
Anything that’s fun and doesn’t take too long, but just long enough to require some effort or practice. Then, splurge a on a well-deserved reward, like a day out at an amusement park, to celebrate the achievement and encourage inspiration for more.
Kids get in for free, at the Powerhouse Museum.
Check out museums, exhibitions and free events
It’s easy to overlook the wealth of free activities available, especially in capital cities during the school holidays. Many museums offer free entry and interactive exhibits provide hours of fun - while you have a coffee at the cafe. Avoid the school holiday traffic and jump on public transport which often adds to the adventure for kids.
One great option is Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, where children under 16 are admitted for free. Space is a permanent exhibition where the kids can learn how astronauts eat and, more interestingly, how they go to the bathroom.
Let mess rule in one area of the house, to keep your sanity and encourage creativity.
Make peace with mess and create a dedicated holiday craft area
Embrace mess to the point of dedicating an entire area to possible destruction, just for the holidays.
It’s easy to focus on how much mess clutters your normally tidy house while the kids are on holidays. Mess is, in fact, a prime instigator of tears, tantrums and frustration all round. Instead, embrace mess to the point of dedicating an entire area to possible destruction, just for the holidays. Providing, of course, the kids promise to try and keep the rest of the house in order.
The easiest way to do this, is to set up the garage, an area outdoors or a room - if you’re game - to survive the onslaught. Cover all surfaces, including the kids, and bring out the glue, glitter, body paint, cardboard, egg cartons, empty toilet rolls, string and pasta shells.
When you prepare in advance, you won’t need to worry so much about spills and they’ll feel very grown up in their own artist’s studio. You never know, a work of art might emerge from the chaos and you can always splurge on a cleaning company with all the money you save on outings.