Belinda is a mum of three kids under 3. When she's not changing nappies or using her legal negotiation skills on her two year old, she's providing strategic content at www.commercialmedia.com.au.
If you live out west, enjoying family time does not require a trip into the big smoke. Here are some cheap ways to entertain the kids and enjoy time together as a family right in your own backyard.
1. Check out local club/RSL programs Local clubs have excellent holiday programs for kids of all ages, while you can sit back and enjoy a coffee and hot lunch while you're there. Mounties clubs offer shows, discos, kids bingo, raffles and craft days. Canley Heights RSL has a free car show on the third Sunday of every month and Moorebank Sports Club has a dedicated kids' backyard including resident favourite, 'Peter' the goat, as well as the Manta Ray kids room.
2. Visit a museum Sydney Living Museums provide great value for money, especially with their membership program, which includes free entry for adults and up to four kids to 12 venues year-round. Rouse Hill House and Farm and Elizabeth Farm provide a nice distraction from everyday life and are pleasantly close by.
3. Get back to nature Whether it's the local markets, parks, beaches or lakes, there's a lot to be discovered in the outdoors. Go for a walk, bike ride or take your fishing gear to Chipping Norton Lakes, or enjoy a coffee and lunch at Amoretti's in Fairfield Regional Park, where there are several play areas for kids of all ages to enjoy. If parks aren't your thing, drop into Fairfield Showgrounds every Saturday for markets, food trucks, rides and free entertainment.
4. Drop into your local library Local libraries provide quality holiday programs to get your kids thinking, reading and socialising. Fairfield City Open Libraries offer Lego robotics workshops, a mime show, NAIDOC week craft and movie screenings.
5. Go for a drive Hit the open road and discover a life less ordinary. The Blue Mountains Yulefest runs over the July holiday period and there's heaps on offer, including free entertainment for kids big and small.
6. Hit the shops Check out your local shopping centre for holiday crafts, indoor play areas and child friendly activities. Westfield Liverpool offers Begin Bright on Saturday 1 July for educational fun, while Stocklands Wetherill Park has a newly opened outdoor play area that is also suitable for children with disability or special needs.
7. Find an indoor playground
When the weather is wet and cold, nothing beats an indoor play area for the kids to unleash and have fun while you enjoy a hot drink. Monkey Mania at Casula and Lollypops Playland and Café at Wetherill Park offer play areas and programs sure to keep the kids entertained for hours.
8. Get creative Check out Decorati at Wetherill Park for kids yoga, craft and free play. Meanwhile. Mounties Minis at Mount Pritchard offers a kids craft program and Club Marconi has free Dinosaur Digging for members ($5 for non-members) on 6 July. Meanwhile, aspiring film stars can try their hand at acting through various short courses held by NIDA at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta from 4-6 July.
9. Watch a show Visit Riverside Theatres at Parramatta for kids shows such as Blinky Bill (29 June-1 July), Mr Snot Bottom's Seriously Stinky Songs (4-5 July), and Live Laugh Smile (7 July-15 July).
Credit: Riverside Theatre Parramatta
10. Cook up a storm
Little kids can get their pizza-making skills ready at Club Marconi on 4 July, while kids aged 12 and over can enjoy a four-day cooking course at Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food at Wetherill Park (prices start at $35 per day).
So there are lots of reasons to get active these July school holidays – and you needn't go far for show-stopping family fun on a budget.