Column: Save on summer holiday spending by introducing the kids to the simple life

Playing with friends is a no-cost summer holiday option.
Playing with friends is a no-cost summer holiday option.

As a child, the long summer holiday from school seems endless.

For parents it is now more a case of an endless stream of bills - childcare, holidays, treats, holiday clubs,ice cream.

A survey by hotel chain Travelodge suggests that the average family in this neck of the woods spends a staggering £1,337 on keeping the children entertained for the six - or is it seven? -week break.

Wow! This includes £386 spent on treats and gifts and a further £396 on day trips. And let’s not forget the average £424 spent on a week’s holiday away. Child care comes in at a relatively paltry £130.

It’s all a long way from the “off you go, see you at teatime” approach to entertaining the youngsters that was the hallmark of those of us of a certain age.

Summer days were all about playing Olympics ie running up and down the street with variations involving skipping ropes or hastily constructed obstacle courses, playing Wimbledon, which imvolved - rather scarily looking back - playing tennis in the middle of an estate road with two friends holding a skipping rope as the net or camping out that involved eating your tea in a tent in the park.

Friends and fun, however makeshift, that’s what many summer holiday memories were made of.

Now, of course, stranger danger has made us more cautious. There are organised - and often expensive - sports camps, tennis lessons, dance workshops - you name it, if you’re prepared to pay then the little darlings will have an action-packed summer.

But there is another way.

Boredom is not necessarily a bad thing.

The odd day kicking your heels makes a child appreciate the treats more for a start.

And there’s nothing like a dose of boredom to fuel childhood creativity.

Who can forget the thrill of constructing a make-believe world - or even a Thunderbirds Tracy Island - Blue Peter style from cardboard boxes and empty washing up liquid bottles?

Or preparing a picnic for the family, making ice lollies on a hot day or whipping up your first batch of butterfly buns?

So parents shouldn’t feel pressured into putting their hands in their pockets.

Often, the simple things are best.