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Skint Dad reveals how to keep your children and your wallet happy this half term

As everyone knows, half term with children can be hectic.

Here, Ricky Willis, author of the award-winning Skint Dad blog and father of three, gives us his ideas to keep both your children and your wallet happy this half term.

Time to recharge the batteries?

Rest, relaxation and recuperation – doesn’t that sound good?! As a parent, when I imagine a half term, and see how weary the children get on the last few days up to the break, I can think of nothing better than chilling out, recharging the batteries, doing nothing and getting all my energy back.

However, my children seem to disagree. One day at home and they have their energy back to full steam and get cabin fever. We can’t manage two days at home in a row without them scratching at the door wanting to get out!

If you’re not working this half term holiday, rather than worrying about entertaining kids and spending lots of money on days out, excursions or trips away, take a look at these cheap and easy to organise ideas.

Free local events

Without travelling far, if you take a look locally, you’ll probably be surprised that there are loads of things going on around you for free.

Visit your local museum and see if they are putting on workshops, many of which are normally free but need to be booked. Don't forget your local library which can keep your little ones entertained for hours. During the holidays lots of them also host free events.

Head outdoors

There is nothing simpler than grabbing a football and picnic before heading to the local park, field or play area. Just take advantage of a big playing space and let the children burn off some energy. If you go to your nearest park quite often, why not find the next closest one and try that instead. A change in scenery will keep them even more entertained.

If you're looking for something a bit more structured then check out the National Trust's 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4; It give you a free selection of activities to do outside. You can sign up on the site to get access to online rewards, certificates, games and secret challenges or, you can just download the list of activities for free.

What is great about this list is you don't have to pay to access UK landmarks; you can use their activity sheet for free and just enjoy being outdoors.

Get together

Even though they spend hours together during the term time, there is nothing like the excitement of a child who gets to play with their friends outside school.

Team up with other parents at school and plan a get together. If everyone offers to bring snacks then one person doesn't have to find the money to host it. The kids will have a great day (but the host parent may have a nightmare cleaning up afterwards!)

You could even turn it into a sleepover, giving one set of parents the night off. If they can return the favour in the same week, it'll be two days of activities and all the adults get a break!

Plan for bad weather

Although the weather is usually getting better, you never know if it'll be a wash out so make sure you have a backup plan with things to do at home.

There are loads of different activities to do at home if you have a think.

Try making an indoor fort using cushions, pillows and blankets. How about having a disco in the evening where everyone has to dress up and you can take it in turn to be the DJ. Why not get out some trusted board games and spend the afternoon trying to sink each other's battle ship.

If your children have the patience, ask them to write and direct their own play which they have to perform at the end of the week. What with the script, props, rehearsals and costumes, it should keep them busy for a few days!

Be prepared if going out

If you are arranging to take a day trip a bit further afield the costs can add up so it's best to make a plan first and don't just turn up.

For places where you need to purchase tickets, give yourself some time and buy them online ahead of time as you will normally get a discount off the full ticket price.

If you are travelling by rail it's always worth booking in advance plus, if you're heading for London, there are around 100 attractions where you can get 2 for 1 entry.

Planning in advance can give you the opportunity to make as many savings plus you can see if there are any online discount voucher codes or you can try to get cash back on your spend too!

Do you have any ideas of your own to add to Skint Dad's?

This guest post is from Skint Dad and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about Skint Dad and what they do on their website.

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