August 13, 2013 posted by littlewhitecottage

Sleeping with the Lions at the Zoo…

Money for the zoo

I found out, online, that Warwick Castle were having special ‘medieval sleepovers’ in tents in the grounds of the castle this summer and as we’d not been there for a while I looked to see how much it was -£250. This was way beyond anything I could find from the family budget but I had a word with the boys and we decided that we would try to make the money ourselves from the things we have at home. I was very proud of the boys as they all went to get their money boxes…

After we’d all had a good count we found we had about £80. The boys then went off to find Hubbie’s spare change pot and after counting this added another £26. Ollie kept the running total and told us that we had £106 but we still needed £144. We all sat around feeling a little down about not having enough until I suggested that I had a few bits and bobs that I could sell so off I went to rummage through my wardrobe to see what I could find. After asking advice on my Facebook page as to how selling on eBay was going these days -do you get any money? Is it all professionals? Someone suggested that I uploaded photos of what I had to sell to see if anyone wanted anything. I was a bit embarrassed to do this but I thought -why not? It would save on listing and paying fees and might get it all over and done with quickly. After 2 days I had raised just over £100 and when I told Oliver he was very pleased quickly adding the total in his head and making a correct £206.

Again, we were a bit down though still chuffed but I thought as we had got this far I wouldn’t cave in at the last minute and say ‘Oh it’s alright I’ll put the rest in the pot and we can go…’ The boys were learning how expensive things were and that we really don’t have any spare money for things that aren’t budgeted for.

I did some extra teaching and said to Oliver that I had earned £15 and also another £5 came in as one of my sewing ladies bought some fabric off me. We were now up to

<<drum roll>>


The boys then said that they could sort some old toys and we could do a car boot sale which I thought a fab idea. It would kill 2 birds with 1 stone; the boys would sell stuff they don’t play with to raise money and we would get rid of some of the clutter! A definite win, win I’d say.

We set off bleary eyed last Sunday morning at ‘very early o’clock’ and found ourselves in a field with lots of other people all wanting to get rid of the things they’d bought and not take anything home again. At first we were stormingly busy but then it tailed off as our stall got depleted. After 2hrs we packed the little we had into a black sack with the aim of dropping it at the local Charity shop on the way home. It was all good stuff so this seemed the best idea. After taking into consideration our costs of £10 we had raised £40.

Oliver was jumping for joy…

Our grand total was £266!!

When Oliver shouted that we had done it and that we were going to Warwick the 2 little ones all hugged each other with excitement. As a family we’d raised the money needed and actually had some really good times whilst doing it and the boys have learned that Mummy and Daddy aren’t a bottomless money pit and we, like lots of other families at the moment are just about keeping our heads above water.

I want the boys to know about money, to know what it can be worth, to know it’s hard to come by and that also when you have a family there are lots of really dull things to spend the money on that can stop you having fun. We hadn’t touched the money boxes for many months and I had just kept putting in the spare change that I find around the cottage -Hubbie’s bedside table and the washing machine are the best places to find coins I’ve learned – and if I forget about them they soon add up.

We took the coins to the special machine that counts your money today and the boys loved seeing all their coins disappear and be counted. They loved the noise and wanted to help to put the coins in tipping the shelf to feed the machine. I reminded them again that they had made enough to go to Warwick and, again, we all had a hug and a little squeal of excitement.

I know that after a days watching the jousting being in the castle grounds and then going to bed in a tent with a sheepskin on them after learning how to shoot an arrow and be a knight that they will remember that night for the rest of their lives. They will get up the next day and have more castle fun and driving home I know they will fall asleep in the car and Hubbie and I will have to lift them out of the car and carry them to their beds -possibly sleeping in their clothes! – and they will talk about the weekend we are about to have for many years to come. The will also feel a huge sense of achievement as they know that they have helped to pay for this family break and that we all worked together as a team to make it happen.

As I sat at Whipsnade Zoo with them today Henry asked me what they could save their money box money for for next summer holiday and I said ‘Do you know they let you sleep here at the zoo now..?’

His eyes lit up at the thought.


  • That sounds like great fun! Did you know that the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in London also do sleepovers? If they are into dinosaurs that would be a good one x

  • Thank you for another great idea to try with my kids. Since they are 4,7 and almost 9 they often don’t really understand about money and this would be a great way to teach them about saving and earning money. They often want to visit lot of different places and sometimes it’s hard to explain that we can’t afford to do everything.

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