It is with great fondness that I look back on my children’s younger years, and remember how happy they used to be with a trip to the park, or a splash in the puddles, or digging up some worms. If you have to spend money to have some fun with little children, then you are having the wrong kind of fun.
Fast forward a few years, and it is a little bit harder to keep my kids happy for free. Well, that’s not strictly true, as they are very happy playing on the X-Box all day, and that’s free – but it’s not acceptable.
Firstly, they are adults now, and have to pay as such. At well over 6 feet, and with facial hair, I can’t pretend that they are 12 any more. (That’s my boys by the way, my daughter does not have facial hair – she is keen that I point that out to you.) Secondly, as young adults with their own minds, they are instantly dismissive of anything that I suggest – and so I have to think outside the box a little.
However, we have still managed to find a few days out that are either free, or that offer great value for money. It goes without saying that now we are focussing on saving every penny we can, we will be doing more of the following…….
Art Galleries and Museums
We are based in the Midlands, and are seriously blessed with some wonderful FREE exhibitions and galleries. Walsall Art Gallery has an amazing Jacob Epstein collection, and as I write I am just back from a Grayson Perry exhibition in Birmingham. FREE!! We also regularly catch the train to other cities, and visit the FREE! jewels in their crowns. Did I mention that these are FREE! – although you probably should donate something in the box at the end – for Karma.
There are some seriously fab free museums and collection in London – our favourites are the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum. With our family railcard, we can get to London for £20 return, off peak, if booked in advance.
Although my kids often have a moan about going to a gallery, they are never bored once there, and usually find something that stimulates some discussion on the way home. An exhibition at the Tate St Ives, depicting humans ‘intimate’ relations with animals stimulated quite a lot of discussion as I recall……
Ok – not free. But a year’s family membership with one adult is £45 and children are classed as under 18’s. So this does offer excellent value for money. There are some stunning properties throughout the country, and I don’t think we will run out of places to visit. Membership also means that we can get free parking in a variety of Natural Beauty Spots, and can camp in some fabulous areas of natural beauty.
Our local leisure centre offers a family leisure pass. The children get their own card, and so can go independently of their embarrassing parents. They get a third off fitness activities including badminton and swimming. Which means they can afford to pay for the activities out of their own money. Result!
We don’t go to the cinema very often any more, as it is still a very dear night out. We tend to have film nights at home, with home- made popcorn, and a movie or box set from Netflix or Virgin. However, it is nice once in a while, particularly for a big blockbuster movie, and there are ways to reduce the price of tickets. Odeon are currently offering 2 for 1 on tickets, and the Orange Wednesday 2 for 1 cinema tickets promotion is another good way to halve the cost. You can also buy cinema tickets with a Tesco Clubcard.
And of course – we take our own sweeties and drinks!
I don’t shop in Tesco’s any more, as I find it way too dear, and the bogus ‘promotion prices’ make my brain ache. However, we always get petrol from Tesco’s to collect the Clubcard points, and as the husband does a monster commute to work, this adds up to some serious pointage.
My points have been used to buy a family railcard, purchase train travel with Red Spotted Hanky, and also entrance fees for some amazing days out that even my recalcitrant teens have enjoyed, including Camera Obscura, the War Rooms, the Falkirk Wheel, and Dynamic Earth. Have a look on http://www.tesco.com/clubcard/ and see what you fancy.
I’d love to hear how you save money on days out with your teens.
Ta ta speak later.