We all need to get away, right? Time to breathe. Switch off the brain. Make memories. Be together...alone.
We did it a few times when I was growing up, my mum, my sister and me. But my mum had an aversion to dirt...spiders...sand...toilet and showers that were not our own. So after 2 little caravan trips away, she shut the caravan door and we never travelled again. Shame really.
I think holidays, no matter where you go, are precious little interludes for you as a family. Those times you look back on when you're big and grown and mutter 'remember when...'
With that in mind, we try and get away once a year. It pulls on the budget strings but it is do-able, if you're a little clever about it.
The one thing you will need to put a little money into is the accommodation. With a family of five, here are my tips for doing this as cheaply as possible.
Search close to home. Go within driving distance. This not only saves money on flights, but eating and entertainment. I'll explain this in more detail in a minute...
Choose accommodation that has a small kitchen. A huge saving to budget is eating in, not out. More on that in a moment too!
If you have pets, get a friend to dog-sit or seek pet-friendly accommodation. If you can get someone to house-sit while you're away to look after the pets, or if you take the family dog, cat or rabbit on holiday with you then this can save you a lot in pet boarding fees!
Since our family is a team, we all contribute in a small way. This year, the kids agreed to forego a birthday party each and the money saved here went toward our accommodation.
Choose a holiday destination at a place where the entertainment is free. For example, we mostly try and holiday near the beach. A day of surf, sun and sand doesn't cost a cent!
If you have 5 in your family, book a 4 bedder and bring a blow up bed for the 5th. Most places don't mind this and will either charge you nothing extra or maybe a small amount per night.
Are their bellies endless holes in need of filling? Absolutely!
Our first stop is always the local supermarket to do a shop for the week. I use the grocery money I would usually use for a shop at home. This way, we're actually not yet spending any extra on food!
As an extra treat, so the kids feel like they're on holidays, they can each put two extra snacks of their own choice in the trolley. They love this! It also teaches self control because they know once the snacks are gone, that's it for the week. It's a great way to teach them a little responsibility.
Bring your blender. You might get a few funny looks hugging your blender all the way up the stairs to your accommodation but believe me, you can secretly snigger because you'll be the one saving a stack of dollars!! Here's why:
A. Homemade Smoothies are a great, cheap and nutritious way to fill bellies B. While I sneak out for a take out coffee (Mummas need at least one hit a day, right?!), the kids enjoy a sugar-free chocolate frappé, compliments of your blender. *see recipe below
Together choose one or two meals where you eat out. The rest, eat in. Below are my best suggestions for quick, cheap, holiday eating.
Yoghurt, Oatmeal and berries
Eggs on toast
Baked beans on toast
Avocado smash on toast
Sausages and salad
Chicken Waldorf Salad (seriously simple recipe below)
Fish and salad
Creamy bacon, broccoli pasta
Sausages and salad
Of course there's nothing better than the beach! And if you've driven to your destination, you can pack your own body boards, surf boards, buckets and spades, balls, frisbee and whatever else takes your kids' fancy!
We all know kids love something new too! I take them to the cheap shop or Big W and let them choose one new thing each. One of my boys usually chooses a ball, the other a book (total opposites, those two!) my daughter will usually go for some nail polish and spend countless hours painting then removing then repainting her nails! (Oh to have the time for this! Mine, once painted, must last for weeks!)
Bring a pack of cards or a board game from home. I know, I know, not all of us enjoy endless games of UNO. But uno what (like that?) - everyone tells me before you know it the kids will be grown and gone, so I'm going to milk every moment and get into their little worlds as much as possible! So UNO, Monopoly, Yahtzee it is for now!
If you're a bit of an Earth mother, like me, bring a ball of wool and crochet needle and teach your daughter to crochet. Or not. Like mine. She gave up. After one go. So...that will be my holiday therapy instead!
Do nothing. Yep! You heard me right. It's a skill, actually. Teach them it's okay to just be. No screens allowed. Talk. Have a frappé together!
I haven't forgotten! Here are a few recipes I promised you. I'm not a chef, so these are very rough but you'll get the picture and can adjust at your fancy.
1 cup oats
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen fruit
Blend and add more liquid if needed
2 frozen bananas (or if fresh add a handful of ice)
2 cups milk
1 handful baby spinach
1 Tbspn cacao (optional)
3 tsp sugar free chocolate (I use Vitarium) Fill blender with ice cubes until just reaching over the blades Pour in milk to just cover ice cubes Add a few tbspn cream to make it creamy. Blend
In blender place:
Few sticks celery
Cubes of cooked chicken (either bbq or steam your own)
Handful of walnuts (optional if nut free)
Handful baby spinach
1 x Tbspn mayonaise
Blitz for a few seconds. Add sliced boiled egg (optional)
Cook up wholemeal pasta in boiling water
In a saucepan, fry up bacon and onion. Throw in a few tubs cream (I use lactose free). Add chopped broccoli, capsicum, or whatever else you like. Crumble in 1 or 2 chicken stock cubes.
Add to the now cooked pasta and serve with some shredded cheese on top.
I hope that some of my tips and tricks in this article help you to plan and have a wonderful family holiday that won't break the bank!
Renee is an experienced educator who specialises in literacy for young children. She grew up in a single parent home and is a regular speaker to community groups around Australia on this subject. She now has three children of her own.You can read The Organised Mummy's full profile here
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