When it comes to entertaining the kids these school hols, it pays to think outside of the box.
Take a look at the resources you already have at home (like your swimming pool), and never underestimate how creativity borne out of thriftiness can really hit the spot with kids who are constantly crying, “I’m bored!” These five ideas each cost around $20 per week, and will keep your kids going even when the weather outside is frightful.
Cool in the pool
If you have a swimming pool (or you have a friend or neighbour with one), don’t think it’s just for the summer months! Warm up the pool and you’ve got instant entertainment (and exercise) for a big group of kids in the holidays , and they can still enjoy it when it’s raining – that’s when the heat comes in very handy. Kevin Trigg from Hot Water Heat Pumps says, “If you have a good, efficient heater, it will cost around $20 a week to heat the average-sized pool during the April and October school holidays.” That's definitely cheaper than what most parents would expect, so a very worthy part of the pool investment. Not to mention how good it feels to get two more seasons out of your pool.
Soapy suds bounce
Do you have a trampoline or do you know someone who does? Rain or shine, a soapy suds bounce will keep kids entertained for hours – and will get them (and the tramp) squeaky clean. All you need is $20 worth of dishwashing liquid (that’s about seven bottles) and a hose. Get a dishwashing liquid that produces loads of bubbles, because that is really and truly the definitive measure of a great session of soapy suds bouncing.
Another great activity for dodgy holiday weather is card mania. Buy five packs of cards at $4 a pack, so you won’t run into a shortage, and teach your kids some easy and some challenging games, or have a Solitaire tournament (give each child their own pack of cards, and see who can complete a game of Solitaire first!). Start with Go Fish and Snap, then move on to Cheat, Gin Rummy, and Poker (harder games will keep the kids focused for longer, and are much more fun for parents!). When card-playing is done, house-of-cards building can begin! Card-flicking is another favourite, and if you google “card throwing” you’ll see it’s a sport that takes practise and dedication to master.
Every family should have a dress-up box, and you’ll be amazed at how many interesting bits and pieces you can pick up with a budget of only $20. Check out op shops (particularly if they’re having a fill-a-bag clothing sale, where you can get extra bang for your buck), the $2 shop, and neighbourhood garage sales. You can make homemade masks and fabric moustaches, and offer to take unwanted bridesmaid’s dresses and high-heeled shoes from friends and family members who are cleaning out – retro ones are the best!
All things brown paper
Buy a mega roll of brown paper, which at $65 for 70 metres, gives you around 20 metres for $20 a week to play with. There’s nothing like an endless supply of paper to unleash your creativity, and with your super sized roll, here’s what your kids can produce:
- Draw and colour a themed table cover for each day (flowers, cars, insects, dinosaurs, little messages etc.)
- Using two metres, draw your own town with roads, car parks, rivers, shopping centres and bridges, and then collage and paint for added effect. Now it's ready for matchbox cars, Thomas trains and Lego play!
- Make masks for the kids' evening drama performance (best fun ever!)
- Create decorative wrapping paper ready for parties
- Assemble bouquets of (homegrown) flowers from the garden, then wrap in (decorated) brown paper and take as a gift.
- Weaving (using strips of brown paper)
- Card making
- Book covering
- Origami (google for endless ideas)