With just a few days until the Easter holidays are upon us, my mind has turned to my favourite pastime – how can I occupy my child for the most amount of time but for the least amount of money.
There is no getting away from the fact that entertaining small people is expensive. Not to mention expected, exhausting and, at times, explosive!
If we are not shelling out for holiday clubs so we can work, we are racking our brains trying to find something to keep the entire family entertained without killing each other!
I am a fan of the holiday spreadsheet, which causes much eye rolling from friends and family, but ensures my little one has a sense of routine, knows what to expect and has things to look forward to. As he has got older he has become more involved in holiday activity planning and this sense of ownership means we have less ‘I’m bored’ moments and more acceptance of the more mundane tasks of the holidays.
So, how can you keep your little lambs busy at Easter? Well, many of our young people have additional needs, are in receipt of DLA or are looked after. Many of you are unpaid carers. This means that you can benefit from a range of discounts and schemes.
I will try to include something for everyone.
Check out your Local Authority’s Local Offer. Often there is a Facebook page linked to this. There should be details of activities, clubs and events listed on it. Many are free.
Again, local authorities often have schemes for carers including discounts. Carers.org has useful advice and a list of days out with discounts.
For those with over 8s who have additional needs, the CEA card gives a free carer for cinema trips. At £6 for a year, it pays for itself on the first use.
If you are in receipt of certain benefits you can apply for a Disability Identity Card. While not officially recognised, we have never had an issue and use it to prove we need a carer if proof is requested. We also used it at Disneyland Paris to get a RAP pass.
Junior membership is £10 and with proof of disability you can get a free carer.
Not available in all areas but for looked after and disabled children, this card gives great discounts to activities
Free carer pass with proof of disability and now you can renew for £8.99 a month
We have a child membership and get a free carer pass. This membership also entitles us to visit other zoos such as Edinburgh and Newquay. Your local zoo or wild animal park may do the same. And our local park has a free petting zoo that the children love, so it’s worth checking that out too for a less costly alternative.
Many places now have autism or disabled friendly events. Trampoline parks, leisure centres, soft play and swimming pools often have weekly or monthly events specifically for children with SEN. These are often quieter than other sessions and don’t require proof of benefits.
Our local council also produces a free “What’s On” booklet which covers activities for all ages.
They also provide all the wonderful free museums and libraries up and down the country. They invariably have fun holiday activities, usually at no cost.
Craft and book shops
This is worth checking out too! Our local independent bookshop does holiday craft activities at just a few pounds. And we have a local craft gallery/shopping barn/cafe which does the same and has a petting zoo to boot! Also stores like Hobbycraft often put on an activity that’s free in the holidays. It’s really worth checking your local shops and library noticeboard to see what’s happening.
So there you go. With a little local research and a bit of planning (with or without a spreadsheet), you can have a fun half term without breaking the bank.
Hopefully the sun will shine and you can get outside this holiday. There is no substitute for parks, seaside and woodland walks but this is Britain so we could just as easily have snow!!! Let’s keep everything crossed that it doesn’t! But then there’s always a movie and chocolate if that happens!