Half term set to cost working parents over £400

Parents end up spending an additional £133.50 on children’s activities – despite trying to find them for free

Looking after the kids this coming half term week can cost working parents £443.14, a study has found. A third of working parents (33%) will take annual leave from work to look after their little ones, whilst 11% will take unpaid leave from work, costing an additional £309.64* in lost income, according to a recent survey by money-saving website Voucherbox.co.uk**.

The survey found that parents will spend an average £133.50 entertaining the children during half term week, despite the majority of respondents trying their best to find either free (31%) or short-term, low-cost activities (20%). This means collectively UK families are forking out £590 million this half term***.

Whilst bank holiday Monday provides parents some light relief this half term in taking one less day off, it’s still a substantial investment for those taking unpaid leave, costing a total of £443.14 to cover the week. This is 259% more expensive than the average cost of holiday childcare.****

Working parents are certainly feeling the pressure of the rising cost of half-term as over 70% have noticed an increase over the past five years, and over half (52%) said managing work and childcare during the holidays was either stressful or very stressful.

In response to how the children will be entertained for the week, the survey found that over 20% of households will partake in short-term activities, such as the cinema and play centres, while almost 15% will spend a considerable amount more visiting attractions, like theme parks and the zoo. Other activities include visiting friends and relatives out of town (13%), arranged playdates (10%) and holiday at home or abroad (9%).

Shane Forster, Voucherbox UK Country Manager stated, “The costs of looking after the kids over half term have rocketed and many parents are feeling the pinch.

Of course whilst there isn’t a great deal you can do about the cost of taking time off, there are lots of free and fun activities out there as well as some great deals to be found online. As a starting point, check out what’s on at your garden centre, library, community centre and even shops like Hobbycraft and Pets at Home who often give free demonstrations during the holidays.”

Journalist, parenting blogger Mad Mum of 7, Afra Wilmore, has mixed feelings about half term.

She said: “I look forward to a more relaxing start to the mornings and the opportunity to have some quality time with my children.

“On the other hand I find myself worrying about weather, traffic and finances and the prospect of those words: ”I’m bored.”

“My family loves the beach but a trip there can be stressful. All roads to the coast are usually rammed if the sun is out, then you have to park and then lug a picnic, or fork out for food.

“Museums are usually free but during holidays you shuffle round with the other million families trying to get a glimpse of ancient bones or waiting for ages to have a go on the interactive displays before negotiating a budget for the gift shop.

“Soft play? Not out of term time unless you want to experience a Lord of the Flies type scenario.

“My advice-plan one big trip to somewhere like the zoo, cinema or crazy golf, and a couple of free activities outside like a treasure hunt or den–building.

“Top Tip? Buy some new (or pre-loved) games, puzzles or craft supplies and a new DVD for that inevitable rainy day.” You can check out our Hobbycraft voucher page here to knock some money off your online shop.

Half term set to cost working parents over £400 Infographic

Take a look at our latest blog which is full of ideas and deals for the week ahead.

Follow Afra for more top tips on Twitter and Instagram.

Notes to editors

*Calculated through payscale.com average UK salary 2016 (£26,422)
**Survey of over 1,000 working parents, May 2016
*** Department for Education 2015 statistics (8.4 million pupils enrolled in schools in England) and 2015 Eurostat data (average woman in Britain has 1.9 children)
****Family and Childcare Trust Holiday Childcare Survey 2015 (£123.49 for 50 hour week)