With just a handful of weeks left before children break up for the longest school holiday of the year, parents around the country are looking for ways to not only keep children busy, but to cover childcare while they work…you are not alone!

So, what have you got planned? Here are some ideas that start at zero cost to less than £100 per week.

Free nursery places

Children aged three and four (and two in some parts of the country) are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week.

This is for nine and a half months of the year, so if you haven’t claimed all of the free childcare you’re entitled to, you could use some during the summer holidays.

There’s a lot of choice: you can use the hours in:

  • playgroups
  • nurseries
  • childminders
  • children’s centres
  • pre-schools

Older children

While they may have finished their GCSEs, you’ll likely want something to keep your teen busy during the holidays. the National Citizenship Service (https://nationalcitizenservice.direct.gov.uk/).

You can sign your child up at a number of organisations around the country, with costs starting at nothing to up to about £80. Your child would spend two weeks away from home and spend a third week working as part of a team on a project to improve their local community. This is a definite bonus for their CV, and is a little more exciting than spending the summer at the grandparents!


Summer is ripe with students who are looking to make a buck or two. They’re young, active and closer in age to your children, so that should mean lots of fun (in theory)!

If you have a neighbour or relative who has their student child coming home to offload for the summer, why not consider a few days a week of childcare cover? Rates are negotiable (obviously!).


On that subject, you may already have parents who are retired and welcome the grandchildren spending some quality time with them. It’s cheap (usually free) and gives you peace of mind.

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