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A (cheap) mother's guide to planning school holiday activities.

Keeping the kids entertained doesn’t need to cost the earth.

By BERN MORLEY

The school holidays are looooong, especially the ones that fall over the Christmas period. Coming up with new ideas to keep the kids entertained is insanely difficult not to mention bank breaking. Trying to come up with new things to do each day that won’t send you hurtling towards a 2nd mortgage are few and far between.

So here are some relatively inexpensive school holiday activities to keep the kids entertained:

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

1. Head to a Museum

I’m yet to meet a kid that doesn’t dig a museum. I’m yet to meet a parent that also doesn’t get swept up in some component of it all. As far as school holiday activities go, it’s a win-win. Whether it’s a contemporary, science or art museum, we are lucky enough to be in possession of some of the most amazing spaces in the world and every school holidays, there are programs being run to showcase these. Even if there are no special events on at the time, to see your child’s face when they catch their first (or seventh) glimpse of a prehistoric shark tooth or to see how lightning actually works is simply magic.

2. A Day out at the local pool

EVEN if you have your own pool at home, nothing quite beats the icy poles you buy at the pool canteen. Or that feeling you get as a kid when you make a friend who likes to dive down to the bottom as much as you do.  These are all magical memories we as adults hold so why not try and turn them into your children’s too.  Often the council run pools are reasonably priced and you can take a packed lunch to make a reasonable day out for all.

WilderQuest offers guided tours of national parks, which include games, craft activities and morning tea!

3. WilderQuest

This sounds like a really cool theme park, right? Well it is not. WilderQuest is a great children’s program that includes school holiday activities like guided tours in national parks.  Available to children of all ages, the school holiday activities to choose from include ‘Darting and Dashing in the Estuary’, a fun adventure on the water’s edge just for kids. Here, kids can look for crafty crabs that can only be seen when the tide goes out or discover how to spot the different types of plants and wildlife that call this amazing place, ‘home’. For a modest sum, your children will enjoy a guided walk, games, theme related craft activities and morning tea. This is just one of the cool, fun and exciting adventures being run these school holidays at WilderQuest. For this and many more WilderQuest tours visit their website.

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4. Playdates.

I don’t know when it became so, but just going over to a friend’s house isn’t as relaxed as it once was. When I was a kid, I just ran around the corner to my mate’s house and returned home at tea time. Now it’s like a full scale military operation to arrange such a day. Why not bring back the relaxed element, get to know your children’s friends and their family. Trade some time. Other children are often not a hassle to have around when they are entertaining each other. Plus, some of the best friendships you’ll make over your lifetime will be with those of your child’s classmate’s parents. It takes little effort to arrange and is so very worth it.

Teach a kid to enjoy the world around them and they’ll never be bored.

5. The Beach

My children were born to surf. No they weren’t, they were born to sloth around in the lounge room given half a chance, so I will making sure that these school holidays we will be hitting the beaches and if not learning to surf exactly, at least learn about the sea. To understand what a rip is and how to spot one. To reinforce the rules around where to swim and where not to swim.  To teach them about swimming in the Australian surf and how good it feels to have a day just getting wet, kicking a ball and riding a surf mat all the way into the shore. I guess the biggest logistical problem you’ll have is finding a park.  I suggest heading in early, it’s always a winner.

These suggestions not so long ago would have been blatantly obvious yet I feel in this modern age we have this overwhelming urge to be constantly entertaining our children with ‘stuff’. That there is an expectation that we must keep them entertained endlessly when in reality, children are simple creatures. I think that it’s we as adults that over complicate it. With these school holiday activities you can teach your children to enjoy the world around them so they’ll never be bored.

So, what school holiday activities do you have planned for the kids this time around?

Get set for natural adventures with your whole family

WilderQuest is an initiative of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) which helps your children find out more about the natural world and motivates them to explore the great outdoors. Watch your children set off on adventures in a safe online environment at www.wilderquest.nsw.gov.au to discover national park ecosystems, play games and learn about Australian plants and animals guided by Ranger Sam and his host of friendly and cheeky native animals.

These school holidays, rally up the kids and join a ranger-guided WilderQuest tour through one of our easily accessible national parks. Don’t forget to share your WilderQuest adventures in our facebook page.