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Half term

Stave off the boredom and expense this half term by keeping the kids entertained without spending a fortune

Though the kids may be looking forward to a week off, many parents in the UK find half-term a struggle to meet both the time and money demands of keeping their children occupied.

It seems like they only just went back to school after the summer holidays and Christmas is fast approaching, so the autumn break can feel like terrible timing for many parents. A recent study from the Post Office shows that 62 percent are worried about covering the cost of entertaining their children for the week, expecting to spend an average of £229 on childcare, activities and travel. Not only are parents concerned about the expense of days out, for those in work there is also the rising cost of additional childcare or taking days off – Nearly a third expect to use savings to cover half-term.

The good news is with a little planning and creativity half term need not be the inconvenience you may think. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the break without spending a small fortune:

1.       If you have to go to work over the half-term break, the cost of childcare for younger children can be expensive. Check with your employer if they run a childcare voucher scheme. Up to £55 per week can be claimed by each parent for childcare costs. 

2.       Teenagers aged 16-17 can use the time off as an opportunity to gain work experience and skills through the National Citizen Service, which involves spending time away from home to work on community projects.

3.       For those kids mad about football the FA offer free coaching sessions during all school holidays. Not only will your children be out of the house for most of the day, these sessions offer a safe environment for them to get exercise, socialise and learn teamwork skills. They may even come home wanting to join a local team, getting them out of the house every weekend!

4.      Check with your local cinemas if they run morning kid’s clubs. Many chains screen films in the morning for as little as £1.75

5.       After eating out, the second most expensive cost parents anticipate over half term is entry fees for theme parks. It’s always cheaper to pre-book online, but also check sites such as Groupon and Wowcher for deals. Some theme parks also run deals where supermarket loyalty points can be exchanged for tickets

6.      Days out need not break the bank. One of the most enjoyable, and importantly, educational days out your children could have is to go to a local museum. Many are free entry and your kids will love learning about dinosaurs, animals, and just in time for Halloween the creepy Egyptian mummies! The same goes for zoos and safari parks too, so check online and your local paper for half-term vouchers.

7.       If your children love reading – especially younger kids – take them to your central library and let them spend a few hours exploring the shelves. Many council libraries also run activities and workshops during half-term.

8.      If money or weather don’t permit a day out, invite some of your children’s’ school friends over to play. The company will let you off the hook of having to be the main entertainer.

9.      A day in need not be boring when there are lots of things to do indoors. You could spend the day baking with your kids, teach them a new skill such as knitting or helping out with DIY. Have a day of crafts making Christmas cards for the family, or simply spend the day on the sofa in PJs with the duvet and snacks watching films or playing video games.

10.     Exercise costs nothing. Take your kids out for a bike ride or check if leisure centres are offering free swimming sessions. Autumn is a strikingly colourful time of the year for nature and scenery that shouldn’t be wasted, so go to the park armed with footballs and scooters - playgrounds are a godsend for bored children and harassed parents!

You really don’t need to spend a small king’s ransom to keep the kids happy over half-term. As long as they are engaged doing something out of the ordinary and having fun they will enjoy their time off.