Anytime after September, I switch into a hermit and stay indoors. I’d stay in all day if I could, but, annoyingly, my kids aren’t. I found out very quickly that when we’re out the house the kids are better behaved, even if it’s for just a tiny part of the day.
That’s fine during the week when they have school and pre-school, but over the weekend and half terms, it becomes hard. I tend to slip back into old habits and find myself spending fifteen quid on soft play then another twenty or so on lunch!
It seems that whatever you do as a parent, you find yourself shelling out money. Whether that’s on a cheeky kidcino at your local garden center or a magazine at the petrol station. All those little £1.50s and £2s really start to add up!
Looking back over last month, I spent £36 on what I call extras. Those little things that you buy that you haven’t budgeted for like sweets or drinks. That may not seem that much over a month, but that’s £432 a year and that’s not even covering family days out. Ouch!
So to kick myself back into action Scottish Friendly challenged me to a no-spend weekend, where we just enjoy the free activities that are around us.
What We Did Last Week
Of course, there are going to be times when you have to spend money. I just try and make these few and far between and include them in our monthly budget.
Gymnastics – £12
They go every week, back to back, and love it. It costs us £12 for them both to go for forty-five minutes but it’s pay as you go, so we don’t mind when we have the money.
Lunch – £12
We are mega lucky (or unlucky for me) that the leisure center is right in the middle of town. This means we go straight from gym to town for lunch. I stupidly let the kids pick most weeks, so this normally involves a café lunch or pizza. Yum!
Bouncy Castle Fun Afternoon – £11
After a quick trip back to the house to get changed I normally drive the kids to another leisure center that hosts a bouncy castle fun session. They have around eight or nine bouncy castles up and the kids get to play for as long as they want. It’s about six pounds each, but if we stay for two hours then I kind of feel like it’s been worth it.
Dinner – £1
Saturday night is normally takeaway night. We don’t go all out now as money is tight but we tend to get a dessert that we all like and make a fake away recipe. The kids favourite is homemade pizza, mine is burger and chips!
Most of our Sundays are spent at Paultons Park. We all have seasons passes (well, The Eldest and I do, The Youngest is still under a metre.) We’ve now been 7 times since we bought the passes in the holidays.
They are £110 each, so after 7 visits this trip technically cost me £31.42 for all of us. Not bad for a full day out I think. That’s only going to get cheaper as we go more! Win! (A day ticket costs £31.75 per person at the door, so that’s a really good saving.)
We did spend £5 on ice creams and a drink for me, but we don’t always, just depends on the weather and how nice I feel. LOL
I always bring lunch, so no money is spent there and bring as many snacks as I can too.
Well, that’s normally a rush job after a Sunday at Paultons Park. It’s normally fish cake, mash, and beans or something from the freezer, anything quick.
Get Out the House Without Spending Money
So this is the challenge I was very excited to accept. Could I survive all weekend without spending money and are there enough free activities to do to keep us all sane?
No gym today so we got ready and headed outside with the chalk. We drew hopscotch tiles, road signs and generally played outside.
The Eldest has just started school and is having trouble with her ‘Bs’ and ‘Ds’ so we drew them out and I’d shout out a word and she would have to guess what they started with. They loved it!
We then headed to our nearby seaside town of Portsmouth. The historic buildings here are epic, but one place I’ve always wanted to try that I haven’t was the castle.
It’s completely free and was where Henry VIII watched the Mary Rose sink in the 16th century. Since then the castle has stood through several wars and it played an important role as a military base for hundreds of years.
The kids loved running around it and the views across the harbor are amazing. There is a café, but I was on my best behavior and brought a picnic.
We sat in the car directly across from the sea and ate. The kids loved the novelty of eating a picnic in the car with the doors shut. (It was pretty breezy.)
We then got the scooters out and went up and down the seafront. It goes on for miles so we went from one park to the other, stopping only for a wee break and play in the parks.
Dinner was another fakeaway. We had sweet and sour chicken with rice and the kids made (with my help, obvs) a brownie tray bake.
We started the day in our PJs putting together our Christmas box for the local food bank. The kids made their own wrapping paper by painting and adding stickers while I printed off the list of items our local food bank needs.
The Eldest picked the items off my list and The Youngest coloured in our homemade advent calendar.
I really want this to be part of our family tradition going forward, so with a few other money bloggers, we’ve decided to do this as a reverse advent.
So every day in December the kids will open up a window and will add the item to our box, which hopefully will be nice and full by the 25th, and ready to donate after Christmas.
After a messy picnic lunch with involved a free for all on the crisp cupboard and star shaped sandwiches (don’t ask), we built our pillow fort.
It didn’t last long as The Youngest had more fun jumping on it then hiding behind it but it was funny to watch.
Hoping the rain would go so we could puddle jump, we then made a tent under the dining room table (made me realise I need to hoover more) and seemed to host every teddy we owned.
Next involved a homemade movie (which really needs an edit) and a slight fight between who’s going to be Elsa next!
By 4 pm we all had cabin fever so decided to try a Messy Church session. I’d never heard of Messy Church in till my mother-in-law introduced us.
It’s pretty much a fun-filled few hours of crafts, games, and food with other families in your community.
The kids loved it. There were loads to keep them amused and the food was brilliant. We all sat at huge long tables which meant I got chatting to other mums who I’ve never met and kids got to have a play.
- 25 Things to do on a Family No-Spend Weekend
- FREE Money Saving Printables, which includes Meal plans, Shopping Lists and Budget Planners
- 17 Free Things to do With Kids in December
How Much Did I Save?
Working it all out, I saved a massive £72.42 over one weekend!
It goes to show what you really can save when you find local free activities. They are out there; you just have to dig to find them.
Now here’s my challenge to you. Set a date and have a no-spend weekend of your own. Let me know what you do, how much you think you’ve saved, and if you could do it once a month or every other week?
***Disclosure: I was paid by Scottish Friendly to try a no-spend weekend and to compare it against my normal activities. All thoughts are my own. Please refer to our Disclosure Statement for further information. ***