READER REPORT:

Surviving school holidays on a budget

CINDY DAVID
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
stressed mum
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FAMILY MADNESS: Stress is inevitable during the school holidays.

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Surviving school holidays on a budget

The school holidays are drawing near. With three primary school children as energetic as mine, I can easily imagine how life is going to be. Not only will my house look like some police investigators have barged in and carried out a search warrant, but it will be constantly teeming with a lot of noise and grumbling and whining. "Mummy, I'm bored. My friends are all away for holiday." "My best friend is in London." "Mine went to Queenstown." "Summer is too long. I miss school." "I wish it was school time again." Blah, blah, blah.

I used to get overwhelmed by all this, but not anymore. I've learned how to survive, if not manage, these agonising six weeks of the year. By surviving I mean making my kids happy without blowing the budget and making myself unhappy. The key? Planning.

Planning is the first important step to surviving the school holidays when you're on a budget. There are at least three components in your plan:

  • Funds
  • Activities
  • Calendar

Funds

Set up a holiday funds account as early as you can to make sure your family doesn't blow your money on Christmas presents.

This helps you build enough funds for at least one family weekend vacation and then some to keep the ball rolling during the entire summer.

Whatever you get to save, though, you still need to practice a lot of creativity to stay afloat during this time. But just how creative can you get? This brings you to the next step.

Activities

Plan activities that your kids like to do. Together, gather and list ideas for a fun and meaningful holiday. Pick activities you enjoyed doing in the past, or look for new ones to do this year.

1. Do basic home stuff: Get the kids to organise their stuff, clean and decorate their rooms, learn to cook a new recipe, bake muffins, make smoothies and plant seeds in the garden. For more ideas, check this website: www.kidspot.co.nz

2. Get creative: Kids are always bursting with lots of creative energy, so get their hands on creative projects like scrapbooking, journaling, painting, sketching and making collages. For inspiration, visit a nearby art gallery.

3. Get educational: Create lots of opportunities for kids to read, play educational games and organise quizzes. Visit the local library and borrow as many books as you can - story books, arts and crafts, science and history books. For games and quizzes, check these websites: www.sciencekids.co.nz and www.funtrivia.com

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4. Enjoy the outdoors: Kids love the outdoors so make sure you have plenty of time for picnics, camping, swimming, playing ball games, walking and rock climbing. Check on free outdoor events for kids, too - visit this website: www.kiwifamilies.co.nz

Calendar

Once you have narrowed down the activities you want to do, plot them in your calendar. Not everyday will be an "action day", but drawing up a schedule makes you look forward to something during the week and keeps everyone excited. For down times, give them a list of chores to do, borrow some DVD movies and stock up on microwavable popcorn.

Once you have learned to plan the school holidays with the kids, you'll find yourself looking forward to it. It's the time of the year when you can do things together as a family.

Kids grow up so fast, so it's best not only to survive the holidays with these squeaky, whiny little birds but to enjoy and nurture them in the warmth of your presence and yes, to keep them happy and busy.


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