CHEAP School Holiday Fun

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Yeah. Are you scoffing? If I saw that headline I would be too. But I’m here to tell you it can be done. Hell, if we can take four kids to Sydney’s The Royal Easter Show for all of $207 then anything is possible.

Some of us are staring down the barrel of s.i.x. weeks with the kids at home in the height of summer and that can strike fear deep into my cold dead heart.

Here’s the thing.

If you are going to survive, correction, if your kids are going to survive this break, you have to completely rethink your definition of fun. What we, as adults, think of as fun is not necessarily so for a small or small-ish child.

For example, my idea of hell? Riding on public transport for the hell of it. My children’s idea of AWESOME? Riding on public transport for the hell of it. Seriously, the other day I met some friends at a cafe near a train station and then – spontaneously – took Grover for a train ride between t.w.o stations and back again. The verdict? Best.Parent.EVAH.

NSW Public Transport offer a Family Funday Sunday travel pass and while I find the name irritating, patronising and condescending it does allow to you go as far as Wollongong or Newcastle on the smell of an oily rag.

Even if you’re not travelling on a Sunday a family fare is pretty reasonable – I’d give you actual numbers but the 131500website won’t let me onto the relevant page. Nice.

Check your local council What’s On. Guaranteed there will be free activities for kids throughout the school break.

Water. If you live near the coast then it’s pretty bloody obvious – get thee to the beach. Take an eski/cooler contraption stocked with frozen drinks, some lunch and treats, slather on the sunscreen and not only do you have an awesome activity you have kids at the end of that activity so completely knackered you wonder why you don’t do it every single sunny day.

If you’re inland the local swimming pool offers the out. Even if you have a pool, something about being at someone else’s pool makes it so much more fun. And look, so long as your local isn’t some bloody circus of slides and fountains and wave pools entry is normally very reasonable.

For tight-arse Tuesday types, just gaffer tape some garbage bags together, drizzle with dishwashing liquid and run the hose on it – instant trip to the hospital water slide.

Culture. I know I know. When I took my boys to the NSW Art Gallery I thought the boys might fall to the floor and spontaneously combust much like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz when she gets water thrown on her but lo, they loved it. They were completely in awe of the artworks, the scale of some of them, the colours in others and so on. Sure, their attention span is not huge but it’s an outing. YOU ARE OUT OF THE HOUSE. And many of these establishments are free.

Playdates. Does anyone else hate that phrase as much as me? Hideous. Anyway, they work a treat – sure you have to reciprocate but often having a stranger in the midst changes the sibling dynamic sufficiently to eradicate much of the normal holiday assassination-by-torment attempts.

The Park. I think I’ve shared with you guys before my hatred of the park but here’s the thing, it lessens with age and as I realise how much my kids enjoy it. Often I end up striking up a conversation with another mum which makes it all the more bearable as you can get away with ignoring not hearing the plaintive cries for pushes on the swing for much longer. And guys? IT’S FREE.

Home. There will be days that staying at home is actually everyone’s preference. We’re also anticipating a wet summer so pay attention. I’m going to say something here which even I consider a dirty word. I know, I KNOW. But remember – rethink your definition of fun. If it isn’t raining set them up on the grass. If it is, newspaper. Put down lots of newspaper. Painting or homemade playdough are huge winners in this house. I just up my meds and hope for the best.

And if that doesn’t help, just remember my favourite phrase of all: this too shall pass.


What’s your hot tip for cheap holiday fun?

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Tightening the belt

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Most of you know that this year has been all about tightening the household budgetary belt and you know, we’ve actually done incredibly well. I mean, we haven’t saved anything but we have not spent beyond our means for a whole 11 months. Pretty amazing huh.

So I thought it would be the perfect place to start in my series looking at the concept of ‘value’. Most of these are completely obvious and there are probably loads more ways we could be saving money so please, share your tips via comments too OK?

allconsuming’s Top 10 ways to tighten the family budget

  1. Set a weekly menu plan and shop specifically to that list. Oh, and back away from the brand names.
  2. Buy a decent brand of coffee and/or tea and cease and desist buying one every time you leave the house.
  3. Have people over for morning or afternoon tea rather than meeting at the coffee shop. Making a slice or cake or batch of biscuits is far more economical than the $$ you will dole out at a cafe.
  4. Stop buying magazines. Depending on your want (fashion, food, gossip, lifestyle/home) there are plenty of blogs and/or online options
  5. Review all your plans – phone plans, pay-tv plans, insurance plans, utilities – take the time to investigate better options. You don’t need to do them all at once, just tackle one at a time. We took a long hard look at our pay-tv subscription, questioned what we would miss versus how much it cost us and well, we ditched the whole thing. The only thing we miss: Grand Designs, AFL, SpongeBob. Hardly life-altering or unbearable.
  6. This one has been tough but absolutely necessary: no more take-aways. I mean, take-away for seven people, five of those essentially eating adult portions is incredibly expensive. Instead we try to really create variety with weekly dinners at home. I must say, I really yearn for one night a week where I say, ‘let’s order take-away’.
  7. Review extra-curricular activities – can it be done better, how much is too much. Now this is a bit laden as it cuts right to the core of giving your kids a range of experiences and activities. We had to reach the decision that each child got 1-2 activities they could do, ideally a sport and an arts orientated one. Oscar’s taken care of mostly through free activities due to his special needs, Felix has done drama and football. Jasper has just picked up dance and Grover is none the wiser at this stage but I think the two little fellas will do gymnastics next year.  I ditched the swimming lessons for the little boys which some would say was foolish. But really, having done swimming lessons with three of the boys surely I had taken on enough to be able to teach them water safety when we’re in the pool at my in-laws or over at the ocean pool or in the surf the several times a week we are there during summer? Instead I’m investigating a week-long intensive option over the school holidays as Jasper is now in need of some stroke lessons. That and the swimming club offers free lessons (gold coin donation) at the ocean pool every weekend during summer. Tick.
  8. It’s not where you shop but how you wear it. No really. It is.
  9. Plan plan plan. Life throws enough curve balls so let’s try and limit their impact. I have a list of bigger ticket items that are going to need replacing at some stage in the near future. Then I keep track of prices of that item and how often there are sales on. I’ve also signed up at two online sales websites: brandsExclusive and buyinvite and if something comes up there which is on my list it may get ticked off (if the price is right as it were).
  10. Homemade is not a dirty word. Now look, I know many of you are not crafty and do not cook/bake, but I do (definitely more of the latter than the former) and so this is a case of playing to my strengths. If you know me then you just have to accept that a birthday gift or a thank you present or a contribution to a hamper or some such is going to be made by me. Yes, I will try and make it look nice but it will always taste good and was made with love. I reckon that’s far nicer than another bloody teatowel/vase/dust-collector.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week: Purchase the Mountain Buggy Swift from Baby and receive a FREE Storm and Sunshade valued at $79.90 at