Entertaining kids on a budget
Wondering how to keep your kids entertained over the school holidays? The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun. We have come up with some tips to help you and your family enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank.
Work out how much you can afford to spend on activities and set a weekly budget to help you. Our budget planner can help you work out how much you can afford to spend.
Activities and events
There are lots of attractions that your family can enjoy, many of which are free. Visit your local library and encourage your children to take home some books. Many libraries hold events such as story time, readathons, book clubs and arts and crafts days – just ask the staff if they have any events coming up. Libraries are also a great place for kids to spend a few hours in, with plenty of books and computers to keep them busy – perfect for a rainy day.
Check to see if your local swimming pool offers free or reduced-fee swimming during the school holidays. A trip to the local swimming pool can be a great way to entertain children if you don’t have the opportunity (or the weather!) to go to the beach.
A trip to the cinema is always a treat for the whole family. Many cinemas run kids clubs with discounted tickets which helps keep the cost down, and you could plan a few cost-free days beforehand to make sure you stay within your budget.
Museums and galleries in Ireland are great as most of them are free of charge. Many have special events catering for children and families during the school holidays.
Teach your children about money when out and about
A good way to teach your child about money is to involve them in planning a family day out during the holidays. Get them involved in choosing where to go and try to limit the choice to two or three different places. Give them the total amount you have available to spend on the day out and discuss the pros and cons of each choice. Discuss the cost involved and the importance of deciding what is most important to them. When on the trip you could give each child a small amount of money to budget and spend on themselves.
Stay at home
On some days, you may decide to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean your family has to be bored. You could spend some time playing a favourite game or reading a story with your children.
Have a duvet day; let the kids choose a couple of favourite films, make some popcorn and settle down to relax together. You could even let the kids build a den to play in; all they need are some sheets or blankets and some cardboard boxes or chairs to prop them up!
Teach your kids how to cook; help them pick a simple, low-cost recipe, go shopping for ingredients and cook something together that you can all enjoy eating afterwards.
Pull out those library books, board games and jigsaw puzzles and spend some time playing. Traditional games can be great fun when the whole family gets involved.
Encourage your children to put on a play or a magic show. Let them use some old clothes for fancy dress; a few simple props and a bit of imagination is all they need. If you have a camera, you can even film it to look back on in years to come.
Have an arts and crafts day. You could create a scrapbook together using family photos or pictures from magazines of things each child is interested in. Buy a few packets of seeds and let the kids plant them and watch them grow. Help them create a treasure map and then set up a treasure hunt around the house and garden. Or even just cover your table with an old sheet and set the kids up with paper and paints or colouring pencils.
Enjoy the outdoors
Sunny days are great for simple activities like hopscotch and football, and these all can be done as close to home as your back garden. Or have a picnic; a small change from the routine like taking your lunch to eat outside on a blanket will seem like a novelty to children and doesn’t cost anything extra.
Kites are great for a windy day and they can be bought very cheaply. If you’re feeling very creative, you and the kids can even have a go at making one yourselves!
If the weather allows, take a trip to the beach. Most Irish people are lucky enough to live within driving distance of the Irish coastline. There are lots of blue flag beaches which are clean and safe for your children to play and swim in.
Take time to enjoy our beautiful countryside. Coillte have details of plenty of family-friendly activities around the country, such as camping, walking and cycling trails. We also have six national parks in Ireland which are free to enter and open all year round. Encourage your kids to watch out for the wide variety of wildlife spotted in the national parks. Turn it into a competition to keep them interested, with a treat for the person who spots the most!
Ireland has a long history of folklore, and lots of woods around the country host fairy trails. Spotting the hidden fairy houses is great fun for kids and it’s totally free.
For something a bit closer to home, bring the kids to your local playground. It’s a free and easy way to keep them entertained, get a bit of exercise and fresh air and let them meet other children.