Social media envy is real. It’s easy to feel to like you NEED to do something exciting (read:expensive) every day to make the school holidays as unforgettable as possible, especially when you see holiday snaps from friends and family.

Consider this your reminder not to lose sight of the significance of school holidays – it’s not about how much you spend on your family but about basking in the company of the youngins. The most significant investments are time and your undivided attention. And that, doesn’t cost a thing.

If you’re looking for something other than the time and tested playground playdates, here are some ideas on low-cost activities to pursue during the school holidays.

Go local


Have you popped into your local council’s Facebook page recently? If you can’t see anything on their main page, check out their events section to see what’s happening near you. Here are some great events that are being held by councils around Perth:

Family Fun Day at Shelley Beach Foreshore

Little Red and Other Tales Puppet Show at The Wetlands Centre Cockburn 

Australia Day at Coogee Beach Festival 

Landsdale Fun Fest at Warradale Park

Swan Inflatables at Swan Active, Beechboro

So what are you waiting for, check out the community events near you!

Hit up the library

We normally associate the library as just being a giant treasure trove of books but they are also a social hub, hosting events for kids during term time and school holidays.

As an example, among the events at Kwinana Public Library, is BeeBot Drop In, where kids learn basic programming skills with the help of an adorable bee-shaped floor robot. Want to get the kids more involved with packing their lunchboxes? Bubbles Bakes will be teaching kids how to make a tasty treat from scratch.

The City of Canning’s libraries on the other hand, will be offering Lego playdates, bilingual story times and a singalong for well-being session across their libraries.

Don’t just pop in for the special sessions though – maximise the experience by looking for books that are related to the event that you just attended. It’s a great way to reinforce what kids have just learnt.


Expand your toy library – cheaply and sustainably.

Want to add a little novelty to your day but don’t want to spend money on toys? Just like regular libraries, a toy library allows you to borrow various toys for the younger kiddos (usually kindy to pre-primary). It’s a great way to expose your child to different toys without adding to the stockpile at home. You can also use the loan period to test out the more expensive toys (eg: Grimms wooden toys and magnetic tiles) before investing in them.

Membership terms and conditions vary depending on the library but most of them charge an annual fee for the service. If you’re unsure, some libraries list their toy catalogues online so that you can determine if membership is right for you.

Find your nearest toy library here.


Fruit picking

Support our local farmers and enjoy the amazing flavour of freshly picked, tree/vine ripened produce by going fruit picking. Truthfully, if you’re anything like me, this activity might be a bit of a budget-wrecker BUT I consider it a worthwhile investment.

We love fruit picking in our house. Aside from coming home with delicious fruit, it’s an easy way to get in some physical activity outside and get the kid exposed to all the good bacteria from the soil. Some farms also have other activities such as tractor rides, play areas and farm animals so you may end up spending longer than expected.

The fruit picking experience goes beyond the farm gate though. If you’re travelling away from your local suburb, use this opportunity to explore the surrounding areas… maybe you’ll find a hidden gem in your travels! A random playground to stretch those legs out more or a little cafe with an amazing cup of coffee. Once you’re back home with your ten kilos of fruit (true story), work with your child to find ways to use and preserve the fruit you have. Even littler hands can help with cutting fruit up for jam and pickles or mixing batter for cake.

If you’re kitchen gadget geeks like us, you can get even more mileage out of the fruit. Vacuum seal fruit to prolong their life in the freezer – perfect for frozen berries to toss in your smoothies or baking. If you have a dehydrator, make fruit chips which can then go into the school lunchbox when the school term starts again.

Here are some fruit picking options

Padbury Pickings (grapes, season usually January – February)

Grumpy Grapes Vineyard (grapes, usually January – March)

Perth Mango Farm (mangoes, usually February – March)

Ballato Orchard (apples, usually March – May, call before attending)

The Fruit Corner (apples, usually April – July)

Kien’s Strawberry Farm (strawberries, usually around September – October)

H & N Strawberries (strawberries, usually around September – October)

Guru Fruit (Avocados and some citrus, usually around September – October)

Carmel Cherry Farm (cherries, loquats and lychees, usually November – December, get on the waitlist if you can)

Head outside 

Depending on the time of year, head to one of our national parks for a day of communing with nature. You’ll find that most are free or charge a minimal per car fee. It’s a great way to encourage physical activity and encourage kids to develop their endurance and test their capabilities. Completing the hike as a family also creates a sense of achievement and camaraderie among siblings. If you’re worried that kids might get bored hiking, why not bring a bug jar with a magnifying window so that kids can go critter hunting then examine their finds up close. Just ensure Kermit does not follow you on the car ride home and put him back where he belongs once you’re done looking at him.

Not confident with navigating nature? Perth is an incredibly kid-friendly city – we have lots of fantastic playgrounds around. Invite a friend and enjoy a playdate at some of the bigger playgrounds. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Bibra Lake Regional Playground
  • Maylands Waterland
  • Pia’s Place, Whiteman Park
  • Koolangka Koolangka Waabiny (Wellington Square Playground)
  • Faulkner Park, Belmont
  • Shorehaven Playground, Alkimos

And as always, if you’re heading outdoors pack plenty of water and be sun safe!


Embrace the mundane

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post… there’s no shame in having a lazy day, slowly accomplishing a goal. Think of it as the school holiday version of Hygge – the Danish philosophy of taking time out from the daily grind to enjoy life’s simple pleasures with loved ones. The beauty of embracing the mundane is that it is completely flexible; mould it to what is most convenient for you and what suits your budget.

One thing I like to do is have a baking “day”. No, this is not me spending all day baking (much to the disappointment of my husband and kid). Instead, it’s about expanding the activity of baking to being an all day event.

It starts off with negotiating what we’ll make. We then head to the shops to pick up what we need. To add some variety, pop on your favourite family play list and have a singalong on the way to an out of area shopping centre. Regardless of where you end up, you don’t have to go straight to grocery shopping. We usually window shop and my son might take his time exploring the play areas and coin-operated rides.

Most shopping centres will have some kind of holiday activity on during the school holidays, which is good for whiling the time away but potentially hazardous to the bank account. So if you need to rein in the expenses, double check what’s on at the shops beforehand.

By the time we’re done at the shops, it will usually be lunch time. Depending on our budget we might have a sneaky takeaway. Otherwise, I might get his help to make lunch at home. Realistically, we’ll only start baking at around 2pm and treats will be ready just before hubby kicks us out of the kitchen for dinner prep.

Yes, I know this doesn’t sound terribly exciting but having the luxury of time to do it instead of squeezing it between household chores makes all the difference. And I enjoy the random conversations that I end up having with my 5 year old throughout the day.

Don’t like baking? How about a small garden project like planting seedlings or making a Halloween costume? Tailor the experience to your interests and skillset.

Now that you have a few ideas up your sleeves for the school holidays, the most important tip I can offer to maximise the savings is BE ENTHUSIASTIC. Regardless of whether you pursue one of the low cost items here or choose to splurge on an activity, the best part of the school holidays is making happy memories and strengthening the bond with your kids.

Have fun, everyone!