We were lucky last week and had the whole week off work, so we spent a lot of really nice family time together.

We could have easily just played everything by ear, like we used to in the days before becoming parents. In those days, we would often wake up too late to do any major outings, or we would set off too close to lunchtime, which would usually mean that half of the trip would be spent in a restaurant or trying to get a snack from somewhere.

These days, we plan ahead. We sat down at the beginning of the week and planned several activities that we would enjoy. Our son probably won’t be too keen to come with us on our trips in 5 years’ time (when he is a teenager), so we’re trying to create as many nice holiday memories together now as we can. Plus, we read a number of articles recently that emphasised that time spent together on holiday is much more important than previously thought.

We have been making a lot more effort for our couple-only days off too!

It’s all about quality time, not length of holiday or (thankfully) cost. Here are some activities that work well either for couples or for the whole family:

  • If you’re in the U.K., you could go on a National Trust day out. You can get unlimited access to historic properties for about £100 per year (family membership).
  • Visit a zoo or aquarium (online pre-booking helps to keep down the cost).
  • Going swimming or bowling together (if you go often, a monthly or annual membership will reduce the cost).
  • Playing board games – try to find games which appeal to the kids and to the parents. Cluedo and Monopoly are firm favourites here!
  • Going for countryside walks together. Plan a proper picnic if you like, or stop at a village pub somewhere for a snack.
  • Planning nice meals. If money is tight, go through cookery books or websites together and plan some special meals that won’t break the bank. Then cook together, if that’s fun for you all. Restaurant meals out can also be a special treat (try vouchercloud to keep a lid on costs).
  • Go for a Youth Hostel They have family rooms and many special offers. We stayed at St Briavel Castle (yes, a real castle) last year, which was great fun.
  • Download a treasure hunt app and go hunting nearby (e.g. Huntzz).

We hope some of these ideas work for you – let us know how you get on!