Your kids might be looking forward to having some free time, but for single parents – half term can feel like the longest week ever. How do you keep the kids entertained without spending a fortune? We have a few tried-and-tested ideas which might help…
1. Hold a bake-off
You only need a few cheap ingredients, but you can have hours of fun baking biscuits, cakes and other yummy treats with the kids. You can decorate cupcakes and invite your child’s friends round to scoff them, or make some edible presents for family members. Not only do you get a few helpers with the cooking and some tasty things to eat, but you’ll also be teaching your little ones some very useful cooking skills.
2. Get gardening
With spring approaching (not that you’d guess from the weather), it’s the perfect time to start getting your seedlings started. Share a garden project with the kids, teaching them how things grow and giving them the responsibility to care for and nurture their plants. This is a good idea even if you live in the city and don’t have a garden, as many plants can be grown on windowsills or balconies. Good things to grow with kids are cress, salad leaves and herbs, as they grow quite fast, and things that can be picked and eaten like strawberries or tomatoes.
3. Saturday morning cinema
Some cinemas, such as Cineworld and Vue run super cheap screenings of the latest films on Saturday and Sunday mornings, as well as in school holidays.
4. Head to the local park
If the weather is dry and clear (which it occasionally is, even at this time of year), why not spend an afternoon getting some fresh air and exercise with the kids in your local park?
Take a football or a Frisbee, let the kids climb trees and run around, and maybe even take a picnic with you. You can even make the day educational, getting the kids to see how many different birds they can spot and teaching them the names of plants.
5. Arrange a play date with other parents you know
This is the best of both worlds – the kids get some other children to play with and single mums and dads get the chance to socialise and have a catch-up. You can hold your playdate for free at one of the parents’ houses, or head to your nearest fun or play house (i.e. Wacky Warehouse).
6. Search in your area for free events and offers
Many museums, art galleries and exhibitions often run special half-term events for families, and many are free. For example, the Natural History Museum in London and the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. To find free and cheap events, take a look at your local council’s website and your local newspaper, as these are likely to have listing of free activities that would be perfect for single parents and kids this half-term.
7. Get crafty
You don’t need to go to a craft workshop (although there are plenty of free and cheap ones about in half-term) to get your kids involved in crafts. Start your own craft project at home! Savvy single parents will look online for step-by-step guides, get all the materials you need and spend a day making, sewing and decorating with the kids.
8. Cash in your Clubcard vouchers or Nectar points for days out
Entry fees for theme parks and other popular half term attractions can be extortionately expensive, but single parents and kids can get in virtually for free. If you’ve been collecting Clubcard, Nectar or any other rewards points, half term could be the ideal time to cash them in. You can often get three or even four times the value of your points when you put them towards days out.
9. Have a board game day
A rainy day during the February half term is perfect for staying indoors (maybe even having a pyjama day!) and digging out those old board games. The kids will love it.
A huge number of swimming pools and leisure centres throughout the UK offer free swimming for kids throughout the half term. Single mums and dads can enjoy a discounted dip too, or simply sit on the sidelines and enjoy some much-needed quiet time while the kids splash about.
For more ideas, head over to the Single With Kids forum. There may be other single parents with great half-term activities to inspire you, or you could even start your own thread on the subject.