Tuesday, 10 May 2011

We're all going on a Summer Homiday

This year, due to our imminent house-move we have not booked a summer holiday - partly due to frugality and partly because we don't know at what stage in the house sale process we'll be at.  Now that Ruby is at pre-school, I'm finally realising why people complain about the hike in prices over the school holidays. According to research, once school starts back in September, prices for holidays abroad drop by an average of 32% while UK breaks fall by more than 50%.

In an effort to stave of sulks and wails of "it's not fair", I'm planning and plotting a toddler friendly staycation.  We've had a trial run 'mini-homiday' over the Easter break, so here's how we made it fun:

Urban camping.

Me and campsites do not get on.  I'm not enamoured of communal shower blocks and mile-long hikes to the nearest toilet.  Pitching your tent in the back garden means you get the best of both worlds!  Even better when you persuade Daddy that it is an excellent father-child bonding experience. They get the fun of sleeping under canvass, midnight feasts and stories by torch-light, while Mummy gets a blissful night's sleep with the double bed all to herself.  Ruby thought it was fabulous and being the contrary child that she is, actually slept better and got up later than she normally does in her own bed.

Pool Parties

There's nothing better for a free afternoon of summer fun than getting the paddling pool out.  Add in some plastic or inflatable toys and invite some of their friends or cousins round for hours of splashing and squealing.  It might not be the Algarve, but as long as Ruby can chuck some water about, she's happy!

Picnics and BBQs

Make sure the holiday spirit extends to mealtimes too by eating al fresco.  Lunch on the lawn, breakfast on a blanket in the garden and dinner fresh from the barbie - you'd never know you were still at home!  I'm normally a bit more relaxed about food and treats on holiday, so on our staycation we'll have ice lollies (homemade for cheaper, healthier alternatives to the additive ridden shop variety) and good old barbecued bangers and burgers.

Love Local

One of the big expenses of holidaying is the day trips out and about.  What with parking, entrance fees, food in the cafes and the lure of the gift shop, a well-meaning visit to a museum or fun-park can cost you a fortune.  There's so much pressure to keep kids entertained, but with toddlers they are perfectly happy with a trip to the local park, a walk in the woods or feeding the ducks.

This Easter we've explored what's available nearby much more than we normally do.  We've had lovely days out for free at parks and open spaces we can walk or cycle too.  Check out your local paper for free fetes, festivals and community events too.  Most of these will have kids entertainment and activities.  Make the most of your local amenities - we have a free art gallery and museum locally who offer activities throughout the holidays, and libraries are great too.

Rainy Days

And if it rains on your parade? I'll be turning the living room into a cinema - cones made from recycled magazines, filled with homemade popcorn, and a favourite Disney DVD on the box. Perfect!

It's all about the attitude

To properly enjoy holidaying at home, you need to enter into it wholeheartedly.  Switch off from your normal day-to-day, kick back and relax!

Got any more tips for us?


  1. I'm not usually a blog reader but since becoming a mummy I find myself looking to the Internet for ideas and tips from other mums on what they have been doing with their children. With times as hard as they are financially this is a great way to entertain the kids! Some of those ideas like the indoor cinema and camping outside didnt even enter my head! It's amazing what you can think of to do ay very little expense with a bit of imagination. I certainly will be taking on board the activities you've suggested. Thank you!

  2. Ahh that's great Lisa. Thanks so much for your comment too. Check out the following post on how to make recycled popcorn holders - it's dead easy :0) http://bit.ly/kWzume

  3. Picnics are a favourite here, if it is raining we have an indoor picnic always sat on the floor on a rug with a variety of snack type food - (i find it helps my little one experiment with different foods a bit too!)Remember you can picnic in the garden and it is fun as you are doing something a bit different! ;)

  4. We are a big fan of picnics here too. On the floor in the living room, in the garden and as part of a walk in the woods. One thing you forgot... bubbles. Kids will happily play for hours with a plentiful supply of bubble mixture! Add some music for a bubble disco and can be done inside or out :)

  5. Oh yes, picnics are great. We often have picnics in the garden or even in the living room.

    Bubbles are a great idea - thanks, I had forgotten. DD loves blowing bubbles - now she's finally sussed how to do it herself! LOL

  6. What a fab post and I'm loving that tent! Staycations work brilliantly - the most important thing you have arleady identified, attitude. If I think back to growing up I never went abroad and only went away in the UK if we were going to stay with family members and those holidays were fab and long summers that I remember as child were also brilliant. Alas I never saw it from a parent POV, having to think of things to keep entertained...but you sound like you have it all wrapped up!!

  7. We've had staycations for the last few years - holidays are about spending time as a family... I couldn't be doing with the stress of loading up three small children and going somewhere new!

  8. When Boy1 was small we staycationed at Grandma's while they were abroad. They had someone looking after their (large and lovely gardened) house, and we got, well, a large and lovely gardened base for our holiday. We did painting on the lawn on enormous sheets of paper, visited the local parks and although obviously we didn't leave their place trashed, we didn't feel the need to be doing all the little jobs around the house that you do at home.

  9. We often go for blocks of days out, that way we're on holiday, even if we're at home in the evenings. The best of both worlds. The adventure of new places, and a nice comfy bed to come back to at home. Staycations can be brilliant :O)

  10. Fab post, not tried the camping in the back garden, but sounds a great idea!
    We also go out for a lots of days out all together, as it feels like we are on holiday, however we don't have to pay for a hotel etc, and can make a picnic at home, to save money.
    Really enjoyed reading this has given me some ideas too!
    Good Luck. Amanda x

  11. Perfect! I am totally with you on this. Sometimes I find the thought of holiday with little ones not so appealing, it is the same job in a different house without of the stuff you need! I am all for days out, camp overs and picnics! The national trust membership is a great thing to ask for a christams present, endless days out and looking around at lots of summer workshops. x

  12. Great post I didn't go away abroad with son till he was 5 . I did not want to take pushchair abroad.

  13. Thanks for your lovely comments x

    The camping was great - for all of us LOL.

    National Trust membership is a great idea for a Christmas Present. We have English Heritage family membership and I have to confess we don't use it nearly as much as we should.

  14. Great post Liz! We are seriously considering buying a caravan to offset the cost of school holidays and because I really want one too! Kids love any kind if camping don't they?