School holidays are a special time for grandkids and seniors. It's a chance to create lasting memories and strengthen your bond, especially if you have recently downsized and have more time on your hands.
The good news is you don't need to splurge on expensive outings to make school holidays memorable. Here are ten budget-friendly activities to enjoy.
1. Explore local parks
Australia is blessed with beautiful parks and nature reserves.
Take your grandkids on a nature adventure. Pack a picnic, explore walking trails, and enjoy the fresh air. It's not only budget-friendly but also an excellent way to connect with nature. Most Aussie parks will also have a playground or two for the grandkids to burn off some energy while you relax on a nearby bench.
2. Visit the local library
Libraries are a perennial favourite when it comes to free entertainment.
Not only is it fun to choose a bunch of books to take home and read, but local libraries almost always have free holiday programs for kids.
Many local libraries offer activities for kids during school holidays. From storytelling sessions to craft workshops, there's something for every age group. You can drop the grandkids off or see if there is something you can both participate in.
3. Get creative at home
You don't need to leave your home to have fun.
Set up a creative space with art supplies, crafting materials, and board games. Spend the day creating art, playing games and letting your imaginations run wild.
If you have downsized and have a balcony, you may want to keep activities confined to this outdoor space to avoid making a mess inside.
4. Explore your city's free attractions
Most cities in Australia have free or low-cost attractions.
These could include museums, art galleries, botanical gardens and historical sites. Check your local listings for upcoming events and exhibitions.
Sometimes the bus, ferry or train ride to one of these destinations can be a big part of the fun, especially for children who are used to travelling in a car.
5. Have a movie marathon
Choose a theme, grab some popcorn, and have a movie marathon at home.
Whether it's classic Disney films or the latest animated features, it's a cozy and entertaining way to spend a day together.
You can try introducing your grandkids to a favourite like the original Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz or Bedknobs and Broomsticks but be prepared for the slower pace to result in them losing interest. Some bright, fast family-focused films that grandparents will also enjoy include Disney’s Encanto or the 1950s style Pixar film Luca. Coco and Up from Disney are other intergenerational tales that are suitable for all ages.
6. Bake together
Baking is a fun and educational activity.
Teach your grandkids some family-favourite recipes or try something new together. The best part? You get to enjoy delicious treats at the end.
Then you can spend some time teaching about cleaning up.
7. Plan a scavenger hunt
Combine outdoor fun with a bit of education by planning a nature scavenger hunt. Create a list of items from nature that your grandkids need to find, like a unique leaf, a feather, or a specific type of flower. It's a fantastic way to explore the outdoors while learning about the environment.
If you want to avoid tears, do a research mission first to ensure everything on the list can be found in your local area and that there are enough so the grandkids don’t bicker.
Clear, starry nights are perfect for stargazing.
Lay out a blanket in your backyard, grab a telescope if you have one and spend the evening identifying constellations. You can even share stories and myths associated with the stars.
9. Volunteer together
Teach your grandkids the value of giving back to the community by volunteering together. There are various opportunities, such as helping at a local food bank, cleaning up a park or visiting a senior centre. There may even be a working bee at the childrens’ school or daycare.
10. Create together
Whether you make a story book, put on a play or paint a picture, starting a creative project at home can be an excellent activity to share over the holidays. You can even try your hand at making a YouTube or Tik Tok video (your grandkids can explain).
When you are ready, you can let the grandkids show off the results to their parent/s who will be so relieved to hear you have enjoyed each other’s company.
A final note: Downsizing your home doesn’t mean you won’t be able to have your grandkids over for school holiday sleepovers. Find a place with two bedrooms and look for a bunk bed or bed with a pull out trundle on a website like Gumtree, ebay or Facebook Marketplace.
IMPORTANT: It is worthwhile talking to a licensed financial planner to understand the implications based on your individual circumstances and needs.