Have you been struggling to keep your kids entertained these school holidays?
When they're not glued to their screens, or moaning, "I'm bored!" they're often expecting to spend their days doing expensive activities.
As much as we'd love to take our kids on outings and enjoy this sunny, Spring weather, we don't have a limitless budget.
So if you're looking for some inspiration on how to keep your kids busy AND happy these holidays, check out our list of FUN and FREE school holiday activities:
1. Go bike riding
Taking your children for a bike ride (or scoot) is a great way to get them outside and burning off all their energy. It's also an easy way for you to grab some exercise in your busy day, and escape the monotony of being at home.
Visit your local council's website to discover your nearby bike paths and take your kids on a cycling adventure.
2. Make a recipe
Sharing the kitchen for a simple cooking activity with your kids is great role-modelling, important for bonding, and teaches them necessary life skills. You can help your kids to make a favourite family recipe, create a healthy lunch together, or bake a delicious afternoon tea treat.
Cooking with kids can be messy, but it's all part of the learning process. It might help to lower your expectations and be extra patient!
3. Explore the beach
If you're lucky enough to live within driving distance of the coast, a day-trip to the beach is a fun and easy family activity.
Take a picnic lunch to save on costs, and pack a ball to kick around, and buckets and spades for plenty of sand play.
Lots of the Australian coastline has amazing rock platforms to explore. Your kids will love pointing out the sea creatures they can spy in the rock pools.
Be prepared to bring home half the beach in sand, shells, rocks and drift wood though!
4. Build a cubby house
If getting out of the house isn't your thing, or the weather is keeping you in-doors, there's plenty of imaginative fun to be had through building a cubby house.
Clear anything important off your dinner table and pull the chairs out to form a frame for your cubby. Then simply throw large blankets or bed sheets over the top to create some walls for your cosy cubby.
Your kids can have all kinds of fun inside their little house. They might like to take some cushsions and some favourite toys, or even their lunch inside. With any luck it will keep them busy for the day – or longer!
5. Visit the library
Taking your kids for a trip on the bus to visit your local council library is always a fun adenture. Esepcially if you have kids who love public transport!
Visits to the library are not only free, but encourages reading, which is a great learning tool and bonding activity for children.
The best part about visiting the library for lots of children is being able to sign-up to receive their very own library card. They feel very grown-up and independent as they can carry it in their (otherwise-empty) wallet!
6. Go on a bushwalk
One of the wonderful parts of living in Australia is the huge amounts of open space and bushland. Even our urban areas have bush nearby that eager young explorers love to visit.
Visit your local council's website or the NPWS to find short, beginner bushwalks in your area.
Pack drink bottles, a picnic lunch, and a first-aid kit (just to be safe) and enjoy taking your curious kids on a safari through the native bush in your neighbourhood.
7. Invite a friend to play
Sometimes the easiest and simplest form of fun for children is to have the freedom to have a good time with their friends.
Invite one of their little buddies over for a playdate and let them enjoy each other's company. It's amazing the new joy they can find in old toys when there's someone different to play with.
And playdates are even better when you get to share a cuppa and some morning tea with their friend's mum or dad.
8. Go on a playground crawl
Kids are simple beings. Well, relatively! They like full bellies and to have a good time. A really simple way to occupy them and get them out of being couped-up inside the house is to go to your local playground. It's amazing how much joy they get out of a flying fox and a slippery dip.
For an even better activity, blow your kids minds by taking them on a 'Playground Crawl'. Get them to help you map-out an afternoon itinerary of visiting their favourite playgrounds, and watch their beaming faces as they get to explore each one.
Not all parents enjoy sitting watching their kids climb on money bars or insisting they be pushed on the swing. If you don't particularly love the playground add an incentive that appeals to you – like a trip to the coffee shop after the kids have played.
9. Pull out the board games
There's a lot to be said about the entertainment value that good, old-fashioned board games bring.
Sitting down to play Monoplay Junior or Guess Who with your kids gives them the attention from you that they love, and it's surprisinly enjoyable for adults too.
If you want to help your kids burn off some energy before bedtime, a few rounds of Twister should do the trick – and leave you all in fits of giggles (and twists).
10. Camp in the backyard
Parents can't be expected to take their kids on holidays every school holidays, but you can bring your favourite holiday spot to your own backyard. Quite literally.
Set-up your family tent in your backyard and spend the afternoon and evening outdoors. Eat a picnic or BBQ dinner and enjoy a technology-free evening in your yard.
You can then all bunk-down together in the tent in sleeping bags as if you're on a family camping trip – but with the added luxuries of your own kitchen and bathroom just a few steps away!