Recently I was on the verge of becoming a single parent (again), and I started to tighten the belt pretty rapidly. Whilst in my relationship the worries of money was never too apparent, not that I had much to spend, but I could at least indulge in a Costa Coffee once or twice a week without the price playing on my mind afterwards. Hell, I would even throw in the occasional cake just to go all out!
As soon as I started to contemplate ending life with my partner, I started to adjust my spending habits and look out for good deals and inexpensive ways to entertain myself and the children (especially during half term). Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much adjustment to get the same outcome, and even though me and my partner are still hanging on in there together, I have continued with being a bit more money aware. I actually get quite a kick out of spending less for more!!
Moors valley is a great place to go when the weather is nice, but the parking is ridiculously expensive if you are watching your spending. Instead I would park at Pottern Park on the outskirts of Verwood and walk in. The walk itself is beautiful and full of wildlife, taking you past the lakes and golf course on the way through. The route is footpath and buggy/bike friendly for those with pushchairs and young children. It takes about 25 minutes to walk in, but once we arrive we tend to pitch up at the play area, have a picnic, and then walk back. Not bad for a free day out!
Now I know most families are aware of Tesco clubcard points and how these can be transferred into days out, but I want to give it a mention for those that may not maximise what’s on offer. Basically you can exchange every £2.50 in vouchers for £10 worth of day out vouchers (I think this is the general rule, although places like Longleat are slightly different). My favourite one to do most half terms and school holidays is Adventure Wonderland, as both my eight year old and eighteen month old enjoy themselves here. Again bring a picnic (and a flask of tea/coffee), and it makes for a free day out.
For those of you with children aged 6 plus, I strolled across a gem of an offer last summer, and I have just heard it’ll be happening again this year. ‘Life’s an Adventure’ is a water-sports course offered through Dorset Council aimed at getting families to try different water-sports over a 5 week course (every Saturday or Sunday afternoon for 5 weeks). We had a great time trying out paddle boarding, Sailing, raft building, and other such things. Before each session began we would take a walk on Chesil beach and stop for lunch, before getting our wetsuits on and hitting the harbour for fun and games with other families. And get this – £10 each for the whole course! Bargain!
This blog could go on, I haven’t even gone into the traditional forest, beach and parks on offer, or the low cost toddler groups and entertainment events that arise over the year. So if you’re in a similar situation to where I found myself, just bear in mind the alternative low cost methods of entertainment out there, and enjoy spending time as a family without blowing a fortune.