11 School Holiday Bucket List Ideas That Don’t Cost Anything (or maybe just a tiny bit)

Bucket lists are fun. Writing them. Planning them. Doing them. We’re at the tail end of our school holidays bucket list: Ella went back to kindy yesterday and I just dropped Billy off at his first ever day of daycare this morning, which I can’t talk about right now. New routines, changes in our family’s rhythm and some much needed open time for me to do work that otherwise gets done in snippets here and there between getting snacks and answering, say twenty thousand questions each day. Activities checked off, inspiration formed for next school holidays, more little moments tucked away — which, let’s be honest, had me drinking double the amount of coffee than usual, but effort I’m glad I went to.

Days out with kids can quickly add up – entry fees, bought lunches, token souvenirs. I wanted to incorporate as many inexpensive or free ideas as I could during school holidays because I’m working harder on being a tad more frugal and, well, I prefer to spend all our money on cute clothes. Priorities are important when you’re a mother.

Here are some ideas to tuck away for next school holidays.

school holidays

1. Lemonade stand.

Grab a table, a stack of paper cups, a few straws, make a pitcher of lemonade with your kids and a few cute signs and set up a stand out the front of your house, or on a busy corner nearby. The kids will get a total kick out of it and it’s a nice way to make connections in your neighbourhood. Spend all profits on cute clothes. Kidding! I meant educational books.

2. New playgrounds.

Google ‘best playgrounds’ in your local town and go visit them. During the holidays, we went to Frew park at Milton which was so great, and also a cute little one with a huge red train out at Scarborough while I was checking out some locations for a photo shoot there. Bring snacks and make a morning of it.

3. Museums/Art Galleries.

GOMA has awesome free kids’ activities on during school holidays, and the Science Centre is another cool free place to go with kids. Head to Southbank for a swim afterwards if you’re feeling super energetic. A friend of mine spent the morning with us during the school holidays, and we went to GOMA and Southbank and returned to the car 4 hours later. She said she needed a beer and to go home for a nap and all this is to say that those of you attempting to head out with your children anywhere at all are brave, fierce, and mighty warriors who are the heroes of this earth.

4. Cooking Day.

If you need to balance a bit of out with in, schedule a cooking day in there somewhere with your kids to restock the freezer with school lunchbox stuff, or meals you can grab out when life gets busy. It’s more mess and more work to include your children in cooking, obviously, but they do love it so much. Besides, it’s nothing a stick Dyson can’t handle.

5. Library.

All hail libraries with their air conditioning and soothing vibes and kind librarians who gush over and entertain your kids. My children love hiring new books, it’s free, and libraries also run activities and group classes for your kiddos worth checking out.

6. Thrift Shopping.

Guys, listen up. I never knew this before but thrift stores are secret kid entertainment jungles requiring little parental guidance. It’s like heaven, obviously, because it means YOU GET TO THRIFT. They head to the toy section, you head to the mismatched floral homewares and linens section. It’s total win/win. The only downside is a screaming match when you’re leaving because they want to keep playing with the toys, at which point you explain you are going to ANOTHER special shop where there will be MORE toys to play with, and off you go on your merry little way, to more thrifting. You’re doing it for the kids, after all.

7. Home Ideas.

Let’s be honest, sometimes the thought of leaving the house makes us break out in a cold sweat. That’s okay. Kids are insane. Bringing them out into the public arena, like – into daylight – is really unadvisable sometimes. Stay home mamas. It’s safer there. Here are three of our favourite home activities that require a little effort and a little clean up, but keep the kids happy, engaged, and learning. One: Pretend Kitchen. Clear a big heap of space on the kitchen floor and put out trays, saucepans, muffin tins etc. Then, grab a range of pantry ingredients like pasta, lentils and flour, a bit of water in a bowl and some utensils and let them pretend they are baking stuff. Billy especially loves this one and often I’ll find muffin trays filled with water and unrecognisable substances sitting in the oven when I’m about to put a roast on. Two: Spa Day. This is a regular in our home. Face masks with cucumber, long baths, massages afterwards, a toe nail painting sesh. The kids love it, Ella especially. Three: Pretend Shop. Grab a table. Put on it a whole heap of stuff from your pantry like tins and cans and packets of stuff. Dump some grocery bags next to it and a little container with some coins from your wallet and voila! Supermarket day, guys! Great for counting and sorting. The kids play this one for a good hour, which is like a day in parent time.

8. Garage Sale.

Okay, so this is a HUGE effort, but something fun to plan for school holiday time if you’re wanting to clear out your used items and involve the kids. Let them help you make signs, decide on prices, and be your sales assistant on garage sale day.

9. Local Activities.

Google free school holiday activities in your home town to see what’s on offer.

10. Bushwalk & Nature Journalling.

Grab a notebook, some pencils and a snack and head out on a bush walk. You can make a day of it and head right out of town, or go on shorter walks closer to home. Get the kids to collect and document what they see – leaves, rocks, sticks, insects, flowers, interesting plants. If they are old enough, have them draw pictures and practice spelling out what it is they’re looking at.

11. Picnic Date.

Another fun activity that gets you out into fresh air and dreamy locations. Plan what you’ll pack in your picnic basket and involve the kids in the packing. Head somewhere you’ve never been before, maybe out to the countryside near farm animals, or the beach, or even a new park you’ve been wanting to check out. Bring a quilt, some books, some board games and set yourselves up for a chilled out afternoon somewhere quaint. Get takeaway for dinner on the way home, just to top it off.

Ending with a Friday Photo Dump – @theredtent on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.

friday photo dump

And a few pics that made me happy this week.







See, aren’t bucket lists fun? Go write one!

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