According to our research, grandparents will spend on average £206 on their grandchildren over the school holidays. More than a quarter (27%) will spend £100-£300*.
Of course, it’s a labour of love. Who doesn’t enjoy looking after grandchildren? But if you give in to every expensive toy demand or requests for lengthy days out the costs can soon mount up.
So, we’ve asked grandparents themselves how they have fun with their grandchildren without spending a fortune. Here are some of their best tips.
1. Get down to the local library
“I have two granddaughters aged five and eight and I admit I spend a small fortune keeping them entertained over the school holidays. However, one thing I’ve found to be good and cost-effective is the local library. They have a summer reading challenge. Every time the kids complete a stage they get stickers and small gift; and, at the end, they get a medal and a certificate.”
As well the reading challenge, many local libraries run programmes of events over the summer including competitions, story times and visiting authors – and they’re all free.
2. Go see some animals
“Just going out for walks works for us. We’re near lots of countryside and Owen gets very excited about seeing animals and tractors. Him and his sister keep lists of what they’ve seen.”
“Visit garden centres. They’re free and often have fish and reptiles.”
You don’t have to pay to get into a zoo or stately home to see animals. You could make a ‘no touching’ rule if you’re worried about bites or infections.
3. Make a scrapbook
“I bought my two scrapbooks each at the beginning of the summer holidays – they were just a few pounds from the supermarket. They’ve enjoyed drawing pictures, and sticking in souvenirs from the days out we’ve had and the things we’ve been doing.”
Cutting and sticking is an old favourite. But, with the new twist of keeping a scrap book diary of the summer it could catch their imagination – and it costs next to nothing.
4. Make a video
“When they were younger Gabriel and Sam both loved making videos on my phone. There’s one we have of Sam dressed up as superman that we still watch – even though he’s really embarrassed about it now.”
The technology’s everywhere now – on smartphones, laptops and digital cameras. Making a short clip, just seven seconds if you’re making a Vine on iphone or ipad, is a chance to really engage with the grandkids interests. It’s also an opportunity for them to show you their superior knowledge!
5. Go round the pound shops
“Lydia (age 7) likes a girly couple of hours in town shopping with Grandma. She usually persuades me to buy her a few bits of girly tat.”
Pound shops are an Aladdin’s cave of bright, sparkly things that cost very little but are fun to buy as well as play with. Trawling the charity shops is also a great way to spend the day without spending a fortune.
6. Get them helping in the garden
“Grandpa likes to get them helping in the garden. You would think it was a chore, but they really enjoy it.”
For kids of all generations what’s not to like about getting your hands dirty?
7. Bake a cake
“Billy (15) has always just loved baking cakes. He makes a right mess making them, but it keeps him busy for hours and they’re gorgeous when he’s finished.”
Baking is having a resurgence of popularity at the moment. What with TV shows like the Great British Bake Off there’s, ironically, hardly a skinny pre-teen who isn’t into making fattening cup-cakes and cake decorating these days.
Engage Mutual (August, 2013), “Cost of grandchildren” [online]. Available from www.engagemutual.com
Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.