Author: Umm Salihah
During school holidays and on weekends there is one dreaded phrase that is heard in most homes: “I’m boooored!!”. Usually I answer with “Only boring people get bored, how can you be bored?” but really, that doesn’t get you very far.
Over the last few years we have developed our list of favourite frugal days out – the places we visit and the things that we can do that keep the children occupied but are also good for our souls as parents and busy adults.
Local park – I usually find the idea of sitting at the park for an hour boring, but if you make a day of it, it can be a wonderful experience. We often take a picnic and the kids paints and a ball. I’ll take along my reading book and a writing journal and usually we find that a few contented hours have whizzed by.
Local library – My kids love the library, although they cannot grasp the concept of keeping quiet, but not all children do. There is usually a lot more to do here than choose books. My local library ran a weekly rhyme time session that helped my middle son start speaking when we thought we might have problems with this. They also run regular children’s craft and activity events through out the holidays, some of which you have to book and pay a small fee for and many of which are free and you just need to turn up. Many libraries also have a small museum or host exhibitions and art and photography displays.
Free Museums – Many of the museums around the country are free – British Museum , National History Museum particularly spring to mind. Museums are no longer boring and dusty places but full of interesting and interactive activities which will get the kids fired up.
Strawberry picking – As a child my parents used to take me to Hewitt’s farm in Kent twice a year, something I have numerous fond memories of and which I now do with my children. Most counties have a farm of this kind which allows you to come and pick-your-own and then pay for what you have picked – usually all sorts of seasonal fruit and vegetables, not just strawberries, which for me are always the highlight. Take along other families and friends and a picnic and it can be a great day out.
City Farm – Also called petting farms, most big cities have these now. These normally have the usual farm animals and sometimes a few more exotic ones which the children can watch and sometime touch under supervision. Many of these are free to visit.
Mela (summer fair) – These have now become a staple of the English summer. My local park have a big one arranged by the local Islamic school every year to raise funds and we end up spending hours there. They usually have stalls, an auction, kids rides and activities and lots of food.
Bazaars – These are very common in my local community in East London usually in the guise of small fund-raising events with stalls selling clothes, jewellery and crafts and kids activities such as face-painting and arts and crafts tables. There is usually plenty of food and often the opportunity to get your henna done.
Airport – This one might sound silly but you would be surprised. One of my colleagues whose children are now grown up, told me about how she struggled to raise her children alone and with little money. One of the things they used to love doing was to take the train to the airport and watch the planes fly off. Currently my husband picks me up from work with the kids in tow and this means driving past a small airport. We get the same excited response to the planes from them every day, they just don’t seem to get tired or bored of them.
Surestart – Every area has a Surestart centre which caters for the needs of families with young children. These often arrange family-friendly days out to places like the zoo at a heavily discounted price and will arrange the transport as well. This is also a good way to socialise with other young families in your area. Contact your local Surestart centre to get their programme of events for the coming months.
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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