Discuss This with Darren

Get the most out of the school holidays

Budgeting sucks, because, let’s be real – it’d be way more fun if you could just buy whatever you wanted all the time – but since most of us aren’t members of the Kardashian clan, it’s just not a reality for us mere mortals. Budgeting for just one or two is hard enough, but when you throw kids into the mix, stretching those hard-earned dollars over the school holiday break is critical.

It can be so easy to blow out the holiday budget with trips to the city, movie outings and other high cost entertainment options. There are plenty of ways to end up spending a fortune all in the name of keeping your kidlets entertained. If you do your research and budget well, you can still keep costs to a minimum while giving your kids (and you) the super fun holiday you deserve.

It’s tempting to think that the school holidays is an opportunity to provide essential down-time for the kids and decompress after the busy school term. The break shouldn’t automatically mean the kids are entitled to spending endless days melting into the couch playing video games, raiding the fridge or endlessly scrolling their thumbs on their phones. An un-prepared school holiday coordinator (that’s you) will very quickly transform into a shrieking lunatic threatening their beloved with all kinds of medieval battle when the inevitable tsunami of “I’m bored” complaints. Holidays are a golden opportunity for kids to explore, learn and develop new skills.

It’s important for kids to get the chance the rest up after the school term, but you also want to spend some quality time doing some special holiday-only activities. Sit the kids down and create a calendar that includes some chilled stay-at-home activities as well as a few extra special paid activities such as movies, theme parks, museums or zoos. Pop your calendar in a spot where everyone can see, so it’s easy for everyone to see what’s coming up and all the things there are to look forward to. It’s a good reminder that some exciting things are coming up when your kids are having an “off” day. And building a school holiday calendar doesn’t just make economic sense; research shows that anticipation of positive experiences brings more happiness than the experiences themselves.

Dazza’s pet tip: Planning is the key to survival. Start scheduling play dates, grandparent days and special day trips before the school holidays hit. Plan just a few paid activities and sprinkle these throughout the holiday period. Work out how much they will cost in advance and check that your budget will accommodate them. Drag the football from the gutter, replace batteries and wash down the cubby house. Kids are fussy creatures: if they see their toys laid out fresh and clean, they’ll be much more attractive to them.

So on that note, I hope you all have a fantastic time away from school and if you get stuck check out the Shepparton Council webpage or Facebook page for holiday activities that are both free or inexpensive. And make sure you visit the cows and Kidstown.

Darren