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Your school holidays survival guide

School holiday time! A dream for the kids – but often hard work behind the scenes for us parents. Here are some tips from dads and mums to keep everyone happy – without completely blowing up your budget.

Make a fun family plan

At the start of the holiday, take some time together and agree on a daily schedule. Talk about what activities you can do. Setting your budget can help keep your costs down -  you could make it a fun challenge for the kids. What family outing can you do that will cost less than £20? What games would they like to play?


Make some family rules

When all of us cooped up together and out of routine, it’s normal for everyone to get a bit grouchy with each other. One thing you can try to get things off to a good start is to set some rules when everyone’s happy and calm. If you and the kids decide on clear rules you all agree on and understand, your kids are more likely to follow them.

Agree on a consequence if the rule is broken– e.g. you’ll take away what they’re fighting over for an hour.

Kids respond way better to rewards, so  agree on a reward you can all look forward to, like a trip to the cinema at the end of the holidays. Then if you see they’re trying, praise, praise praise! Changes won’t happen overnight though, so you’ll need to remind them of the rules from time to time.

Get them to plan your “holiday menu”

Don’t get stuck in the kitchen all holidays – keep the kids entertained by getting them to help you choose the “menu” for the week. To save yourself hassle, you can cook up a big batch at the start of the week, or get them to help you cook something at the start of the day to heat up for dinner.

Keep them happy in the kitchen

When it’s chucking down outside, there’s nothing nicer than a warm bowl of homemade soup. Family favourites like minestrone, butternut squash soup, carrot soup, harvest vegetable soup, leek and potato soup, and tomato soup all go down a treat and cost less than £2. Kids also love bacon bean and pasta soup and spicy chicken noodle soup. If you get the kids to help make it, they’re also way more likely to eat it.  

Be prepared for the meltdown zones

If you know they get grumpy during supermarket trips, fight during car trips, or start to meltdown when you’re out too long, try to plan ahead. Get them to pack a play bag with things like books, their favourite toys, and things to colour in. Pack some snacks to keep that hanger at bay!

Make bedtimes fun

It’s normal for the kids to want to stay up a bit later – it is a holiday after all! But we all know that kid’s magic trick where no matter how little sleep they get, they still get up at the same time each day.

Some tips you can try to get them into bed are to keep bathtimes at the same time each night. Then get them to pick out their favourite story. Snuggle up and read it together. Hopefully they’ll be so warm and cuddly they’ll start drifting off before you know it! You can find more tips for sending them off to sleep here.

Make the most of free holiday activities

It can be easy to feel pressured to  blow your budget on expensive activities, but kids will often have just as fun running around with you at the park than they will at soft play.

 You could make a den in the woods, go on a gruffalo hunt, or even make your own scavenger hunt.

Beaches are also full of fun – why not collect some seashells? You can bring them home to clean them and make patterns out of them. Writing messages to each other in the sand is also loads of fun.

If it’s chucking down outside, you could have an inside picnic with their favourite toys, play I-Spy, hide their toys around the house and ask if they can find them, or ask how many animals they can name starting with A (B,C,D,E). You can also do things like buying an all-day bus trip – a whole day out for a couple of pounds!

Your local library and leisure centres will usually have free holiday programmes running for kids that you can drop into, and museums are full of fun games for kids to play. We also have loads of free fun games you can play to keep them entertained.

Don’t miss out on money

School holidays can be one of the most expensive things for a parent. With Christmas on the way, you’re not alone if you’re starting to feel the pinch. The Money Talk Team can give you free and confidential advice about what benefits you’re entitled to. They can help you with your debt, and tell you if you’re missing out on cost-savings for council tax and utilities. Call them today on 0800 085 7145 or pop in to your local Citizens Advice.

Give yourself a break

They might be holidays for kids, but they can be a struggle for us parents! It’s easy to put yourself last trying to keep them happy. But if you don’t give yourself a break, you’re going to get more and more worn out. To keep going, sometimes you need to stop.

Some things you can do to give yourself a break are having a much-needed sit-down when the kids have gone to bed with a cuppa. Take a long shower and listen to music you like. Switch off screens an hour before bed. If you can, see if you can find someone to watch the kids while you get some fresh air and go for a short walk with a friend. Or just talk with a pal. Taking time out will reduce your stress, boost your mood and help you sleep better too.

And if things are really getting on top of you, talk to your GP to see how they can help.

Hang in there everyone – we’ve got your back!