Fast approaching the final stretch of the school summer holidays, parents across the country are running out of ideas to entertain the kids. But it turns out, with budgets already squeezed, they don't need to throw money at the situation as play dates, water fights and den building deliver the most pleasure per penny, according to the new Kid's Simple Pleasures Index from Sainsbury's.
The index, which asked 1,500 children aged 5-11 nationwide to rank their favourite summer frolics across criteria such as how much fun it is, how happy it makes them feel and how special and memorable it is, compared the pleasure each activity delivers relative to the cost.
These back to basic low cost pleasures, ranked first, second and third respectively in the index, far outstrip trips to the cinema (11th place), leisure complex (12th place) and theme parks (21st place) which didn't even make kids top ten.
The index - released in conjunction with polling of 2,000 parents of 5-11 year olds - shows that the simple pleasures children most enjoy now hark back to what their parents' rate as their fondest childhood memories. Almost seven in ten (68%) parents cited playing with their friends as their most cherished childhood summer memory while over half (56%) said simple garden fun, riding their bike (52%) and going to the park (51%).
The release of the index reflects Sainsbury's promise to help customers Live Well For Less and demonstrates how children can enjoy the simple pleasures in life without their parents spending a fortune. In response to the research, Sainsbury's are offering inspirational guides on free activities such as teddy bear picnics and woodland walks for parents who are running out of ideas at the Sainsbury's Live Well for Less website.
The UK's top simple pleasures, when compared against cost, as voted for by kids across the country are:
When quizzed more generally about their summer holidays at home, children rated playing in familiar places like the local park or back garden (47%) higher than places they haven't been to before (12%), reconfirming that parents don't have to face the school holiday crowds at packed theme parks and zoos across the country. In fact, according to children, as long as they have friends to play with they are more than content to occupy themselves in the garden. 64% want to have more friends to play with, 59% say they like playing outside with their friends the most, and a further 26% say no activity is boring when you have your friends by your side.
The summer wash out hasn't dampened the spirits of two thirds (64%) of children surveyed who enjoy playing outside even in the rain. However when asked to choose their ultimate summer wish, summer sunshine for the entire duration of the holidays came out top (39%). Other popular choices included hanging out with friends (32%), seeing more of their mum and dad (25%) and camping out in the garden (29%).
The second part of the Sainsbury's study - involving 2,000 parents - reveals that parents book at least one day trip or paid for excursion per week over the six week summer holiday period, spending on average £183.00 per child. Almost four in ten (39%) admit to increasing their spending on summer activities and excursions over the past 12 months, compared to one in four (25%) who have decreased their spending.
In terms of what influences their spending on such activities, over four in ten (41%) worry their kids will be bored with just garden antics/low cost everyday activities for the duration of the summer, over one third (36%) plan costly day trips/excursions to make their life easier, while almost three in ten (29%) worry their children won't have an enjoyable summer if they don't book any day trips to theme parks.
Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, child psychologist, said: "Summer memories last us a lifetime and parents can learn a lot from what their children have told us in this study. While they are busy spending money on costly activities to ensure their kids have a good summer, children mostly value the simple pleasures that summer brings, and spending time with friends and family. For kids, quantity time with their parents is just as important as quality time."
"In terms of pleasure per penny, it's the everyday outdoor fun, which takes little time or money to organise that far outweighs the more orchestrated expensive excursions. Parents themselves say simple pleasures like playing with friends and bike rides are amongst their fondest childhood memories so why not encourage these values in children and prioritise play dates and outdoor antics this summer", concluded Dr. Linda.
A Sainsbury's spokesperson added: "This index underpins our commitment to helping families enjoy the good things in life, in an affordable way, through our Live Well For Less philosophy. The summer holidays can be particularly expensive, especially for families, but it doesn't have to be a burden if we take the lead from our youngsters and reappraise the value of the simple everyday pleasures loved by all."