So the kids are wreaking havoc at home, and you think it might be a good idea to head out on a family outing so they can expend some of that energy.
But, as you probably realised shortly after the arrival of your first child, going out with kids in tow costs more than going out alone or as a couple. Not only do you need to account for extra people when you buy food, kid-friendly activities like a trip to Universal Studios or the zoo are often just plain expensive.
Here are four ways to reduce the cost of your outings with kids, without your children getting bored.
1. Bring meals and water from home
The more people there are in your entourage, the more expensive it is to deal with everyone’s hunger pangs. Each time one of the children complains of hunger, the entire family has to sit down at a restaurant or cafe and order something.
And you should never underestimate the effect of thirst and hunger on a child’s mood. If your kids get peckish, you might find yourself dealing with quite a bit of sulking.
The cheapest way to handle this is to always ensure you’re well-stocked with meals, snacks and water. Get some sturdy bento boxes and you can pack the day’s lunch and dinner to save yourself from the cost of eating out. It’s also essential to have some snacks on hand in case the children get hungry but you don’t want to sit down for another meal.
2. Scout out free activities and places to visit
There are some very expensive kid-friendly attractions in Singapore. Unless you can afford to go to Universal Studios every weekend, you’ll have to do a bit of research to find free activities and hangout spots for your kids.
Thankfully, Singapore is actually very family-friendly, so with a bit of effort you should be able to find enough spots to fill up an entire year’s worth of family weekends.
There are numerous children’s playgrounds, some quite magnificent, on shopping mall rooftops and in parks. The train-themed Tiong Bahru Park Playground seriously looks like it belongs in Disneyland, while the water playground at Gardens by the Bay East will make you want to run under the water jets in the blazing heat, too.
There are also public swimming complexes with water slides and wave pools, such as Pasir Ris Swimming Complex and Jurong East Swimming Complex. Best of all, the entry fee for kids is $0.50 on weekdays and $0.60 on weekends, while that for adults is $1 and $1.30 on weekdays and weekends respectively.
The various state-run museums such as the National Gallery of Singapore, the National Museum and the Asian Civilisations Museum are free for Singapore citizens and PRs to visit, and some of the public libraries branches like Jurong Regional Library are big enough to get lost in for hours.
3. Bring stuff to distract the kids with when they get bored
Parents often end up spending money because their kids are getting bored and fractious. If your child is starting to kick up a fuss on your trip to the shopping mall, it’s tempting to head to a cafe where you can ply him with desserts.
Make sure you bring a few items that can keep your kids occupied when they get bored so you won’t have to resort to spending money.
If your kids are readers, you have just to bring a few of their favourite books, which will keep them occupied whenever you’re not able to entertain them. Younger kids will enjoy having a few of their favourite toys on hand, and perhaps some sports equipment like a kick scooter.
Of course, many parents these days resort to iPads and smartphones to distract their kids. But there are clear dangers to an addiction to gadgets, such as poorer language and social skills. So as a parent, you might want to resist.
4. Stay away from shopping malls
We’ve all seen those kids sprawled on the floor of Toys “R” Us, bawling their lungs out because their parents rejected their request for some new toy. For every kid who does that, there is another parent who just quietly buys whatever their child asks for to avoid their causing a scene.
The solution, other than the much longer process of teaching your kid to delay gratification, is simply to avoid placing yourself in situations where your kid is going to ask for stuff. That means staying away from shopping malls or refusing to enter shops if you have to be in one.
What if you need to run errands in a mall or have other activities to do there like watching movies? Look for malls with playgrounds, like IMM or VivoCity, so your kids can stay distracted without being tempted by what’s in the shops.
Do you have any tips for parents going on outings with their kids? Share them in the comments!