Surviving school holidays on tight budget

Hellen Njeri

Prominent African-American leader and human rights activist, Malcolm X once said: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” The honest truth is that schooling is an absolute fundamental step to a successful life. Many times learners feel drained after a long school term and end-of-term breaks are a time when they clear their heads, relax a little and stretch their brains in different ways.

During this period learners need to rest, rejuvenate themselves and prepare for the next learning session.

Parents or guardians, however, get through a rough time and arduous period trying to cope with escalated demand for time, food, consumables and other bills.  With proper planning and preparation one can reduce the financial burden? Here are some tips.

1. Plan ahead

If you have four, six, or even more weeks of holiday ahead of you, it pays to plan ahead. Mark out when you are planning to be away on holiday and if your children are going to be spending anytime away with grandparents or other family members as well as on holiday with you, make sure that you give yourself enough time to book for flights or hotel accommodation to take advantage of any available discounts. Try to pack early so that you don’t forget any needed items for the holiday and end up having to buy new items. Space out your spending, especially if your budget is limited, so that expensive things do not all happen in the first week of the holidays. Planning ahead will ensure you also have your personal schedule incheck so you can get annual leave from your workplace.

2. Use community resources

Community resources, such as churches and libraries often have craft activity sessions or days during school holidays and they are likely to be inexpensive. They will help keep your children occupied, busy and safe. Look out on church noticeboards and mall announcements or personal references from other parents. Church and community libraries are also good places to spend time because they are a source of free books. You can sit there and read to your children if you like, or they can read for themselves. After an hour or two of reading you can pass-by a snack-shop and get them some biting which is likely to cost you less than other related activities.

3. Check for special offers and events

Local venues like malls, shopping centres and swimming pools often have special offers, especially midweek. You can therefore do more with your children within budget. Plenty of venues, including museums, art galleries and animal parks, also have special family events during school holidays. You can take advantage of these offers which will consequently slice your budget and still leaving your children entertained.

4.Stock up on children’s items

Make sure that you have plenty of indoor activities in hand, planned and ready to go, especially for wet days. Look out for shops having sales of craft activities or children games, and stock up your house with affordable children toys and games. Take advantage of food item promotions in time especially the non-perishable goods like healthy biscuits, lunch bars, rice biscuits, milk powder, margarine, cookies and many more. These will slice your budget by a significant amount.

5. Involve other people

Your friends, particularly those with children will also be trying to find ways to entertain their children during school holidays. Doing things together will provide ready-made entertainment programme for the children. During the school holidays, you can meet up somewhere, including the park, or go to each other’s house with some outdoor play space. The children can play together while you are having a cup of tea or coffee and a chat. This can be accompanied by some simple snacks for the children which can be contributed by both families, keeping the children safe and entertained as well.

6. Look out for sports and other ‘camps’

Schools and sports centres are well aware that parents work, and that children need entertaining during end-of-term holidays. Most schools will run some kind of holiday clubs, many of which are open to the wider community and not just to children at the school. Some run very specific sports clubs, or music  sessions, which can be good if your child is into sports or music. Many camps offer either daily or weekly rates, so you can send the children for a few days at very low and affordable rates which may include accommodation at times.

7. Go for ‘in season’ activities

New malls and children play centres seem to be very affordable in their hunt for new clients. For example, look for play areas and children entertainment centres and explore what it is on offer. The idea is to avoid the high bills, but still give your children a chance to experience these activities. Also get their lowest rates time-slots, midweek seems to be best since traffic is low. This will ensure your children are properly entertained with minimum budget.

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