12 ideas for cheap or free summer plans for the kids
By: Claire, redwigwam
With the summer holidays fast approaching, and the cost-of-living crisis still biting, we thought we’d pull together a quick list of some cheap or free ideas that anyone can do with their children over the summer holidays.
We know how hard it is to keep the kids entertained without spending an absolute fortune while they are off school, so hopefully these ideas will help!
1. Go to a farmers’ market
Always fun to have a walk around, and often with animals to have a look at while you’re there, and you can always make a small purchase if you feel like it. We know items can be expensive at farmers markets, but you might fancy treating yourself to a nice jar of honey. There’s no pressure to buy though!
2. Go for a walk!
Completely free and gets you out of the house and into nature. If it’s raining, pop the waterproofs on and jump in some puddles. You’ll be doing wonders for your health both mentally and physically – and then feel less guilty about spending the rest of the day doing very little!
If you’re feeling inspired before you set off, you could even make some lists of things for the children to find while they are out – a stone, a flower, a feather etc. If not, my children always like a spot of healthy competition, so counting steps, and seeing if we can beat the total we did on our last walk is always a winner – and helps tired legs complete the last bit home!
3. Have a water fight
The weather doesn’t have to be roasting, but a water fight is always a winner on a hot day. If you’re feeling brave, get the kids to invite their friends’ round to add to the fun! You can invest a small amount in water guns if you don’t already have any – but we always find Calpol syringes (or similar) work really well (and let’s face it, we all have kitchen drawers full of them!!)
4. Take a picnic to the park
Don’t know about you, but one of the worst things about the summer holidays is the never-ending demand for snacks and trying to figure out what you can make for lunch which is a) different and b) they will eat.
For a cheap lunch out – and lots of fresh air – take a picnic to the park! Even the same sandwiches you’ve eaten every other day taste different in new surroundings.
You can even take your own ice lollies in a freezer bag for a real treat!
5. Go to the beach
If you’re close enough, a day trip to the beach can feel like you’ve been on holiday! Pack the buckets and spades, a ball, and the swimming stuff (and a picnic of course!)
One of our favourite days out last summer was an evening trip to the beach after work – nothing like vitamin sea to cleanse the soul!
6. Go camping
While you will need some equipment for this, it’s a cost-effective way to get away from it all for a couple of nights. If you don’t have a tent, see if you can borrow one – or have a look on Facebook marketplace to see if someone is selling one second hand.
And if you really can’t get away, put it up in the garden – the children can use it as a den, and maybe even have a sleepover at home.
7. Plant flowers, vegetables, or herbs in your garden
Seeds are readily available, and cheap! This is a great project for kids as they can watch how the plants grow over the summer. You can even encourage them do some research into how to look after various plants.
If you do end up with fully grown vegetables or herbs, you can harvest them and have them for dinner. Win-win.
8. Go to the library
Anything that encourages them to read over the summer. Most local libraries have a summer reading scheme for children, when they’ll receive a reward for reading a certain number of books.
Libraries often have events you can join in over the summer months – often an opportunity to do some crafts (with the bonus of keeping the mess out of the house!)
If you have time, it’s always pleasant to choose some books and stay at the library to read for a while for a change of scenery. (Our local one has a café attached, so even the option of a cuppa for me too!)
Always a winning activity. Find out how much pools near you charge for entry and choose a cheap one. As with the library, see if your local pools offer fun sessions with inflatables, or even canoeing to try out. Fun and exercise in one go!
10. Visit a museum
Wherever you live, there’s usually a museum to visit. In many towns and cities, these are free (although do often charge for special exhibitions). Here in Liverpool, we are spoilt for choice – my own children love the World Museum – dinosaurs and an aquarium in one building!
Make a list of as many museums and art galleries with free entry which are within traveling distance and try and visit as many as possible over the summer holidays.
11. Have a games night
Board games are always a huge hit in our house. And even better if we ask friends round and they bring games we don’t already own.
A few snacks and drinks and we’re set up for the evening. You could even add a competitive element by creating a tournament with a small inexpensive prize for the overall winner.
12. Try cooking new recipes
Have a look through the cookbooks you already have or get one from the library. Or you can even research recipes online.
Try to choose a few recipes with similar ingredients so you can keep costs down when you’re doing your food shopping.
Get the children involved with planning, preparing and cooking the meal – they’ll get a great sense of satisfaction and may even be more likely to eat the meal!
If you’re feeling the pinch this summer and are looking for a way to top up your income and help pay for your summer plans, why not join redwigwam and work with us flexibly. There’s a huge choice of jobs, with 100’s added every week.
Because our jobs are completely flexible, adding extra hours around existing work commitments or childcare is no problem. You simply book the jobs and shifts to suit you.