Thursday, 16 September 2010

Free Fun

Having 6 weeks holiday every summer is never going to be something I complain about! However, I noticed that since having kids this break brought with it a certain expectation from the little ones that this was a special time, and with this they associated treats and being able to do exciting things, which often cost ridiculous amounts of money for what they actually are. A particular gripe of mine is that when your child hits 3, they suddenly become an 'adult' in terms of entrance price, even though they often can't do a lot of the activites because they don't meet the criteria e.g. not tall enough.

We recently went for a day out to meet Dora the Explorer at the Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth. My 3 year old was desperate to do this and it was a very kind Christmas present from her Great Grandad that he bought us a family day pass which we could use whenever we liked. Had we not had this, the day would have cost us over £50. My 3 year old had a brilliant time and we did spend the whole day there, but this kind of expense is obviously not sustainable over a long 6 week holiday (did I mention I get 6 weeks holiday in the summer?!).

We're really having to be careful with money as are lots of our friends and so we decided to see, after returning from our holiday whether we could have a 'frugal' week. We tried to do at least one activity every day that was for the children, so here's how we spent a week enjoying ourselves for less than a tenner:

Moors Valley Country Park We started the week with a family day out here. They do charge for car parking, but there's so much to do for free: walks and cycle rides, play trails, tree top trails, play areas, and lots of places for picnics and feeding ducks. Obviously there's other things that you do need to pay for like a steam train, and Go Ape but a fab day was definitely had by all!

Rockpooling We had so much fun doing this when we went camping. We drove down to Kimmeridge Bay and stayed there with fishing nets and buckets for nearly 3 hours. Wrap up warm though because despite being a nice day it was very cold and windy!

The Splash Park is a definite hit. Why is it that children just love water?! This council run park is fantastic and you could easily spend a day there because of its location on Christchurch Quay. As well as the water park there is also a traditional park, lots of green grass, and lovely ducks to feed!

The Library. I'm sure this doesn't sound great but we went to the library to return some books and ended being there for most of the morning. Libraries offer so much more than a book loaning service now. My 1 year old loves his weekly Wriggle and Rhyme class, while my 3 year old enjoys going in and playing with the toys (most of which she has versions of at home!), choosing books for her brother or just sitting down at the tables and looking through the books herself.

The Forest. I guess we're really lucky living where we do because not everyone has the luxury of having this and the next option on their doorstep, but you really can't beat putting the bikes, picnics and ball games into the car and heading into the forest for the day. Some of the parks in the forest even have barbecue sites.

The beach. The sun comes out, the costumes and spf go on, bucket and spade and picnic in the back, and we're off for another day of getting soaked and bringing half a tonne of sand home, but again, for no money at all, we've had a lovely day!

Honeybrook Farm. Another great day out. This is an actual working farm that makes its income through donations, and the farm shop (and car parking again). As well as seeing the animals and having (another) lovely picnic, there's walking trails, an adventure playground and tractor trailer rides to be had too!

So it's definitely possible to have fun on little money, a revelation that most parents will already know, and luckily my children are still at the age when fun is fun and money is irrelevant, but I'll definitely need your help in a few years when that ceases to be the case!

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