WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
From petrol prices to interest rates and general inflation, the squeeze is on Australian families. That quote, “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink,” doesn’t quite cover it. It doesn’t even take into account chocolate and coffee. And with school holidays looming, stocking the fridge and pantry to the brim and finding something for them to do just adds to the expenses list. And if you’re working? It’s even harder. How do you survive the school holidays without sending yourself broke and/or tripling your sugar and caffeine intake?
It’s not a tropical island where waiters bring you drinks poolside, or an adventure into the deep dark wilderness, but there is plenty to love about creating the adventure holiday vibe at home. And it doesn’t have to be expensive nor involve sitting on the couch.
– Every national park in this beautiful country has some amazing natural to offer. Jump on your state’s website and have a look at the (free!) walks and trails, and nourish your soul with nature. QLD; NSW; NT; WA; SA ; TAS ; VIC ; ACT
– Your local council will also have a list of parks, reserves, walks and on school holidays, activities for the kids. Our local council puts on art and sports activities and cultural tours with local indigenous leaders at a minimal cost.
- What’s On 4 Kids is another great place to start, with an encyclopaedic list of experiences, classes and events aimed specifically at children. You can narrow it down to region, age and even whether it’s good for outdoors or rainy weather.
It may seem overly simple, but there are actually a huge amount of activities for our children to do that don’t cost a thing. Sometimes, just finding out where and what is half the battle.
- In South East Queensland, Kids on the Coast is a brilliant magazine detailing lots of school holiday fun in Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coast. Their website is a treasure trove of ideas.
- In Sydney, the Hello Sydney Kids website details just about everything you can do in and around Sydney. There are many activities listed which are free or low cost.
- Checking out local blogs is also well worth a quick google. The Thrifty Family Travels website covers a huge number of regions and towns throughout Australia, with a comprehensive list of things to do in each.
Make your dollar work
Getting ‘bang for your buck’ ticks everyone’s box! But choosing activities which offer outstanding value for everyone can be tricky.
– Do you have insurance? Depending on who you’re with, you can access discounted movie tickets, entry to theme parks, food items and meals out. Most require you to purchase your tickets in advance.
– Find a place where there are multiple activities on at once, which can suit the differing ages and abilities of your children. Hmmm, let me think… MyFirstGym is perfect for this. Our school holiday camps are chock full fun activities which keep the kids physically active and burning off all that extra energy. And we’re considered so great for kids, we’ve been nominated in no less than SEVEN categories in the What’s On 4 Kids Awards. You can vote for us here!
– Get the kids baking. I know. It gets messy when they’re in the kitchen, but a quick clean up is a small price to pay for keeping them occupied while they make muffins or a cake. A bonus is that then they have something to eat because they’re always ridiculously hungry on holidays!
– Kids want to go to the movies? Write down a list of chores and get them working for it. Skirting boards, raking up leaves, dusting the furniture, tidying up their rooms… barter like a Balinese sarong depends on it!
Convenience (or letting someone else do the work)
Perhaps the hardest part of school holidays, is trying to do all the things you’d usually do while the kids are at school. For some of us, this might be the ‘little’ things like full time work (you guys are superstars!) For others, breathing in and out without being asked fifty billion questions is a definite bonus of the 6 hour school day. So having the kids occupied in an activity that is convenient and doesn’t involve you deep cleaning the kitchen after (I’m already re-thinking that baking idea above) is really important.
- Take turns to supervise group play dates with your parenting tribe. Groups of two or four children work best. You take them for a morning or afternoon one day, another parent takes them the next and so on. You’ll have to be in full supervision mode one day, but you can at least look forward to the next off!
- MyFirstGym offers the penultimate in convenient activities for your children, especially on school holidays. With a huge range of activities for all ages (0-15years) – from parkour to dance, martial arts and cool general fitness classes, there’s something tailored to every child, and it’s all in the one place: no driving all over town!
Parent/ Guardian Time
Holidays are about everyone getting a chance to relax. Organise a babysitter/Auntie/sleepover so that you can feel some staycation vibes too, whether it’s a bottle of red and a movie that’s not from the Avenger/Star Wars/ Disney Princess franchise. Or a bike ride or run that doesn’t have five wee stops and endless requests for ice cream.