How much does half term cost you? Plus picnic tips.

Hurrah! It’s half term and the children are ecstatic at the thought of a break from maths and literacy. But how about you? Do you dread the day they break up?

I have mixed feelings if I’m totally honest. I look forward to the cessation of school run for a while and the prospect of a lie in or two.

madmumof7 #glamping

I say the prospect of a lie in because the truth is I rarely actually get one during the school holidays, no matter what time of year.

Is it just my children who sleep deeply past alarms, gentle coaxing and then all out screeching on school days then rise with the lark ready for action and adventure (provided by me of course) during the school holidays?

Seriously my youngest groans like an old man at the thought of having to drag himself out of bed in term time, only to be transformed into an utterly irritatingly chirpy morning person as soon as holidays start. All his ailments and illnesses which recur regularly Monday-to Friday in term time are miraculously cured on weekends and holidays too…..

So that’s the lie-in abandoned then which means more hours in which we have to entertain the little darlings to avoid hearing  the dreaded phrase: “I’m bored” being uttered.

grumpy at theme park

But how much money is that going to cost me?

According to a recent survey by money-saving website, parents end up spending an additional £133.50 on children’s activities – despite trying to find them for free 

A third of working parents (33%) will take annual leave from work to look after their little ones, whilst 11% will take unpaid leave from work.

This means collectively UK families are forking out around £590 million this half term! 

Working parents are certainly feeling the pressure of the rising cost of half-term as over 70% have noticed an increase over the past five years, and over half (52%) said managing work and childcare during the holidays was either stressful or very stressful. 

In response to how the children will be entertained for the week, the survey found that over 20% of households will partake in short-term activities, such as the cinema and play centres, while almost 15% will spend a considerable amount more visiting attractions, like theme parks and the zoo.

Other activities include visiting friends and relatives out of town (13%), arranged playdates (10%) and holiday at home or abroad (9%).

 We opted for a relatively cheap camping trip to start the holidays (thankfully we were blessed with good weather) but the overall cost ramped up when I added fuel, treats to take with us, parking costs at the coast plus unexpected expenses like buckets and spades after we discovered we had left them behind!

melting marshmallows

The rest of our week will be quieter and spent mostly at home.

I’m hoping the good weather continues as not being being a millionaire (not even close) I cannot pander to any requests for action packed holidays filled with trips to places which charge a King’s ransom for admission or lavish meals out.

(By lavish I mean those times when they request extra mozzarella sticks or onion rings alongside their “make mum unhappy meals.”)

Seriously, when planning my large family I failed to take into account the fact that boys in particular are always hungry so days out entail large bags of snacks or large bags of cash being lugged about.

On the subject of food – seriously this is one way cash-strapped parents can save loads of money. I know it’s a pain to prepare (and carry) a picnic but there are short cuts which avoid the need to make piles of sandwiches.

My children love those continental meat selection packs you can pick up in supermarkets. We always take whichever one is on special offer!

Add a nice loaf, maybe some ready made coleslaw or hummus, ready cut carrot batons and some nice fruit like grapes or plums or nectarines and a treat like some biscuits or crisps. My children adore the ones in cardboard tubes – they are great as they are less likely to be crushed and you can often find them cheap on special offer or buy the copycat version in budget supermarkets.

beach picnic

Take along cheese and biscuits, cold pizza, potato salad with frankfurters chopped into it or savoury rice. My children even like cold instant noodles but they are a bit odd to be honest.

 On cooler days cook sausages or bacon before leaving home and wrap in foil and place in a cool bag – with hot food in it will act as a hot bag and if you take rolls and ketchup you can make hot dogs or bacon sarnies to eat out!

Transport-wise I use my old lady-style shopping trolley (at least it’s not tartan) to carry my picnic whenever possible but I do understand that this might be a step too far for my undoubtedly young and trendy readers. (*wonders if the use of the word “trendy” exposes me as a proper old fart…*)

You could use the plan to saving  money making picnics as an excuse to buy a lovely wicker hamper, preferably one with an insulated section incorporated. 

Then you just have to be prepared to either eat your picnic in the car-park or carry a heavy but beautiful hamper resulting in one aching arm and one scratched and bruised leg. Old lady trolley shopper thingy not sounding like such a bad idea now is it?

Here’s hoping your half term is a happy, stress free and inexpensive one!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Views and opinions remain honest and my own.