A recent study by Morrisons has revealed that parents expect to be plunged into debt as a result of the expense of the school holidays with the average grocery bill set to increase by £25.18 per week. 

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When combined with associated costs of entertaining their children, the average parent is predicted to be £126.95 in the red over the course of the holiday while eight per cent will end up between £250 and £500 in debt.

Parents are predicting spending an average of £31.59 per child per week extra over the course of the summer holidays on food, entertainment, childcare and days out.

Almost one in five parents are dreading the holidays due to these money pressures, with over half more concerned about the financial impact of the break than they were last summer.

The study, conducted among more than 1,600 members of the Netmums community, found that parents are turning to desperate measures to cope with the financial toll of the holidays.  In order to help cover these additional expenses, almost a fifth of parents, will resort to selling or pawning possessions, with 15 per cent borrowing on overdrafts or credit cards and 12 per cent borrowing from friends or family.  

Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums, said: “It’s an extremely worrying time for parents, who are already feeling the pressure of the economic climate and are faced with the issue of having to fork out for meals and additional childcare which would normally be fulfilled by the school during term time.

"It’s of particular concern that getting into debt – or worse, defaulting on household bills - are measures being considered as options by worried families," she added.

In response to the research, Morrisons has developed a host of useful information for parents looking for low-cost ways to entertain their children over the summer holidays.  In partnership with Play England, the leading charity that promotes the importance of play, Morrisons is launching the M Savers Summer ‘Pop-Up’ Play Park in August, which will tour the country.

Morrisons.co.uk will also feature a play map so parents can find free play areas, along with easy to cook, low cost, nutritious M Savers summer-themed recipes, perfect for picnics, barbecues and kids’ summer snacks.

Mother of two, Sonia Whiteley-Guest from Morrisons explains: “As a mother I understand the additional cost of feeding and entertaining children over the summer holidays. But looking at the research it’s shocking just how far parents will have to go to cope.

Our popular M Savers range will help parents stretch their shopping budgets further while our website and the M Savers Summer ‘Pop-Up’ Play Parks will provide tips and ideas on how to keep little ones entertained.” 

Sarah Willingham, mum-of-four, from www.letssavesomemoney.com has some top tips for parents hoping to survive the summer holidays on a budget.

Sarah's Summer Survival Tips

1. Research free events on your local council website or community forums

2. Use vouchers! Search online for a voucher first before you book days out at theme parks.  And keep a look out for 2 for 1 deals in newspapers and magazines

3. Arrange play dates with other mums to share the ‘load’ with local friends

4. Shop well. Although you inevitably will need to increase your weekly shop, set yourself a budget and stick to it

5. Cook with the kids – it’s a great entertainer and gets them interested in learning about food. It’s also always cheaper to cook from scratch

6. Get the kids involved in crafts – save old newspapers and magazines and get the children creating

7. Make believe – arrange a treasure hunt around the house or garden. Look online for inspiration to get you started

8. Remember that cardboard boxes and pots and pans can be as much fun as the latest must-have toy!

9. Talk to other mums and dads to get their advice and ideas for low cost ways to entertain the kids.

10. Check online forums such as Netmums for like-minded parents to speak to, the site also has a wealth of really useful information and advice

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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