Holidays: Plan for the Days After
In the midst of all of the holiday planning and preparations, you may have lost sight of the fact that, in addition to the merriment of the holiday season- there is an extended school break coming up (most schools are closed for at least two weeks).
While togetherness is the fabric of holiday celebration, the search for activities and care can be a challenge to any budget, especially when already stretched after all the holiday spending.
A little forethought and planning can aid in keeping the family smiling and the budget balanced.
By now you are likely aware of the availability of your caregiver over holidays. If your centre is closed and you still have to work, be creative in seeking out other options.
Call on family and friends to help, and offer to switch off care with each other, in order to cut costs.
Remember that older kids are off during that period as well. Talk to your neighbours and see if there are local teens looking for job opportunities over the holidays.
If you have to pay for additional care during the holidays, it might be worth taking a few days off (unpaid, if necessary) and staying home with the kids yourself.
Or consider taking a couple of half days off, and you and your partner can spell each other off at lunch time, still preserving your pay.
What to Do?
If you are one of the lucky ones whose office closes for an extended period over the holidays, paying for extra child care is not going to be your budgetary challenge; finding ways to fill the hours while keeping your wallet stocked will be.
Beyond the obvious choices like museums, movies and libraries, how can you fill your days in a budget-friendly, fun way?
Plan your days
Although you are on holidays, schedule your time (although be flexible, it is vacation time after all). Setting out a plan will help you allocate funds and remove surprise activity spending that arises strictly from boredom and parental patience running thin.
Snow: Nature’s Inexpensive Toy
While we as adults curse the appearance of the white stuff on the horizon, mostly because it means challenges driving, shoveling and having to find matching mittens for children (no small accomplishment most days), don’t underestimate the absolute glee that most kids have for snow.
Strap on the snow suit, head out the front door, and you literally have hours of free (and fun) entertainment. Build a snow man, have a snowball fight or build a fort. Pick up some snow paint from the dollar store, and let your little ones use the snow covered ground for their canvas.
When rosy-cheeked, head indoors for some hot chocolate. Yum!
You can make an ordinary day extraordinary, simply by tweaking a little here and there and changing your point of view.
Incorporate a theme to the day. Try Superhero day, where you dress as your favourite crime fighter. Backwards day is fun too, where you wear your clothes backwards or inside out and have breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast (or some such “disarrangement”).
Beyond your usual movie marathon that can often fill a frosty afternoon, put yourself on stage or on the other side of the camera. Channel your inner director, and stage a play or make a movie, complete with props, costumes and a script (most of which will be ad-libbed, of course).
Don’t forget to pop popcorn for the audience during the performance/screening (and for the cast too, post-show!).