Keeping kids amused in summer needn't cost the earth
With the school holidays only days away, many parents are already worrying about how they will keep their kids entertained for eight weeks and, more to the point, how they will afford it.
Well, the good news is there are lots of cheap and even free ways to keep them busy over the summer.
All you need to do is take some time to look and get yourself organised.
Many communities have summer events lined up for families, so check these out through your local libraries and community centres.
Some of these are free of charge and are a great way for kids and adults to keep busy, as well as meet new people.
If you live near a park, you can use their facilities to do some of the following:
Nature trail: take your kids for a walk around the park and point out some of the trees, flowers and animals. This is a great way to keep them busy and teach them new things.
Make a picnic: get them involved in making some sandwiches, and then let them pick somewhere in the park to sit and enjoy their picnic (just make sure they clear up afterwards).
Play some sport: kicking a football, playing frisbee, or flying a kite are all great fun and a good way for your kids to keep fit.
Keeping busy at home
If the weather isn't good, or you just fancy a day at home, why not involve the kids in helping out around the house?
Cleaning the house: give them a room or a cupboard to tidy - take before and after photos to let them see what they've achieved.
Gardening: give them some seeds to plant and encourage them to look after them until they grow.
Baking: get them to pick a recipe, take them shopping for the ingredients, and then help them bake - create a bit of competition by having a prize for the best decorated bun or cake.
There are lots of other things you can do, such as movie days, dressing-up sessions and arts and crafts, which are all great fun and won't cost the earth.
If you've got points stored up on a Sainsbury's Nectar card or Tesco Clubcard, you can exchange these for days out at local attractions. Look out for their 'double up' events too.
Affordable treat days
There are lots of places and attractions with hefty entry fees such as the zoo, cinema or sports events which can make a day out very expensive.
You can help reduce the costs by taking your own food and drinks, booking your tickets well in advance to get the best deals, using any money off vouchers if you have them, and looking at alternative ways to get there - public transport could be cheaper than paying for car parking.
MoneySense is a free, independent programme by Ulster Bank for schools and parents covering topics including banking, borrowing, budgeting and running a small business. Find out more ways to make your cash work harder in Jill's column next week