Finding entertaining things to do as a family when the weather’s shocking can be a nightmare, especially during half term.
There are often 2 for 1 leaflets in the railway station, and offers in the paper, as well as packages and promotions on-line.
You forget during the summer that sheet rain basically writes off about 90% of free activities during the other half of the year.
We bought a flat with a garden, thinking that although the actual flat was pretty tiny, the garden would extend our living space. That was fine when we moved in during the spring, but it is completely obsolete now, and a bit depressing when the hail is lashing against the window. Nancy, our one-year-old, often has her face pressed up against the glass, hitting it with her little fist, like Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate.
If you’re asking yourself what to do on a rainy day then there is stuff going on. Of course there is. It’s just that a lot of it costs a fortune, and at a time of year when things are already pretty tight, an extra tenner-a-head here and there to go and hang out in a ball pool for the afternoon can nudge things from the black into the red.
So I’ve become an absolute magpie for picking up vouchers. There are often 2-for-1 leaflets in the railway station, and offers in the paper, as well as packages and promotions on-line. (Here’s some suggestions for free things to do this half-term, and it’s also worth checking out the latest discounted family days out).
My mum was totally on it with collecting coupons when I was growing up. I used to find it skin-pricklingly embarrassing when we got to the checkout in the supermarket, and she’d present a wodge of cut-out bits of paper for the shop assistant to sort through.
Now, I totally understand.
There’s a certain amount of planning that’s involved in hunting for day out bargains. Offers are often only valid mid-week or during term time, so it’s important to read the small print to avoid a “Can I speak to the manager,” type situation when you come to pay.
Out of desperation, I’ve also started asking other parents what to do on a rainy day with the kids.
I was in the laundrette the other day using the dryer, to avoid every spare surface in the flat being covered in wet washing, and there was another mum in there with a child of a similar age. She told me about a drop-in group at the end of our road that cost £2, including snacks. And suddenly, we have something to do on a Friday morning.
A dad in the library also gave me a flyer about a sing-and-sign drop-in class in a community centre, which we’re going to check out.
What with the coupons and accosting strangers with children, I realise that any illusion of cool I might have tried to project has well and truly gone.
But on the plus side, if it means that we can get out of the flat for an afternoon, and spend some time together as a family, then I just have to take the hit.
You never know, bargain hunting may become the new Gangnam Style of 2013.