A wallet-friendly guide to entertaining kids

Kids having fun
Kids having fun

The last school bell for the year is close to ringing, which means an abundance of family time and unwinding. Although having a house full of children and parents that have time off is a special time, the holidays can get particularly long and keeping he kids entertained challenging, not to mention expensive. 

Eunice Sibiya, Head of FNB Consumer Education, says that both parents and children have gotten caught up in the idea that money has to be spent in order to have fun. 

“Exciting events are generally scheduled for the December holidays, both inland and at the beach. Whilst some of the events like beach concerts throughout the day are free, your children are about to ask for money for activities like movies, theme parks, or lunches with friends. To put money into your child’s hand is an easy way of keeping them occupied. But come January you might have wished that you put that little extra away towards the January money crunch.” 

So how then does one ensure that your kids have a great December holiday without spending tons of money? 

A first step is to remember the holidays are not supposed to be all about extravagance but about creating memories, relaxing and if you can throw some financial literacy into the process of keeping entertained, it is a bonus. 

Sibiya has a few ideas that will keep the kids entertained and active. 

Explore the great outdoors 

What better place to spend quality time together and having fun than the outdoors. If you are heading to the seaside fill your days with time on the beach or if you stay at home, do some research into the parks and botanical gardens in your area. There are often lovely braai areas that make for a great lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon get together and even though it might not be the beach, bat and ball or board games are just as much fun in the park. Alternatively, take a day trip and visit all the small towns or sites to be seen that you have never been to before. Have breakfast at home and pack a picnic basket for lunch. 

“Don’t forget to get active. Irrespective of where you find yourself, South Africa is filled with beautiful hiking areas that are often in close vicinity of the main cities so take the kids out for a family day of outdoor fun,” suggests Sibiya.

Mom and dad’s little helpers

Being at home affords parents the luxury of attending to a few things in and around the house for which there was no time during the year or it might just be a matter of preparing for a family and friends get together that you are hosting. Tired of hearing: “Mom we are bored?” 

“Put the kids to work,” says Sibiya. “It’s a great way to get household jobs done quickly and you can incentivise the kids for their hard work which means you will get your job done quicker plus they are learning the concept of working for money.”

The house is all yours

If your children are older, give the house to them for an evening to host a dinner party with their friends. You and your spouse can enjoy an early evening in or plan in such a way that, that night overlap with an evening that you already have plans for. Suggest that they ask their friends to all contribute to the evening to keep the costs down. 

“Giving your children the house is an easy way to cut costs. Whether they have a dinner party or a DVD evening – it is likely to be cheaper than a night out on the town and it is one less evening to  worry about their safety,” explains Sibiya. 

Put the budgeting ball in their court

Taking money out of your wallet every time the kids ask is a sure way to lose track of your spending and before you know it you might have chipped away at money that was actually put away for groceries or other expenses. Once you have lost track of what you have given the kids to spend, you are unlikely to get back on track.

For the ultimate in festive financial literacy for the kids and taking the hassle out of having to keep track of how much you have given the children, do your budget for December and January and give your children their pocket money for the holiday up front or on a weekly basis. Help them draw up their budget and to identify needs against wants. This way you all can rest assured that you are far less likely to overspend.

“By giving your children their pocket money up front you are putting them in the driver’s seat of their own finances. If their funds get exhausted they have no one to blame but their poor planning skills. Who knows, helping mom and dad around the house to get hold of that extra bit of cash in January might look more attractive than before,” concludes Sibiya. 

How do you entertain your kids on a budget?

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