Love them or loathe them, the summer holidays can be a stressful time for most parents. You either need a foolproof childcare plan or 1001 ideas to keep them entertained, or more likely a bit of both.
Now I’m by no means a “Pinterest Mum” but I after 4 years of raising child with the attention span of a flea, I have got a few favourite activities up my sleeve for keeping kids occupied, and not having to spend any money.
So as my first blog post I thought I’d put together a handy little list of free summer holiday activities for when you need to drag them away from the iPad or TV…and I promise, no coloured spaghetti in sight!
1. Collecting “treasure” – sticks, stones, pine cones, bits of fluff, whatever your child thinks is valuable – if they’re like mine you’ll have handbags/pockets full of it! Collecting treasure can be done on a walk through the woods, at the beach, at the park, pretty much anywhere and is guaranteed to keep them amused for hours.
2. Make a treasure chest – following on from the above, we’ve made a treasure chest from an old shoe box covered in brown paper where we can keep all of my daughter’s special finds. This a great plan as collecting the treasure and then making the chest can take up a whole day – plus it means you don’t have to have their
rubbish treasure scattered around the house!
3. Library – Unfortunately there’s bound to be plenty of rainy days during school holidays in the UK but we’ve found the library is great entertainment for an hour or so. I get to sit down while she pulls the books off someone else’s shelves, and even better she has to be fairly quiet as otherwise “the library lady will tell you off”. What’s not to like.
4. Museums – another rainy day favourite is the local museum. I read recently that the average 4 year old asks over 400 questions a day, it definitely seems more like 4000 in our house! Museums are great because they encourage questions about all sorts of educational things rather than the constant “why?” and it’s interesting for the grown ups too.
5. Bug hunting – I have to admit to a complete phobia of bugs! Unfortunately we now have a bug-phobic child as well so we’ve been trying to encourage her to go on bug hunts. Armed with a little plastic magnifying glass from the pound shop and an empty jam jar we head off to the woods and see what we can find…or what she can find while I stand a sensible distance away.
6. Al fresco painting – Perfect for those of us who don’t fancy hand prints all over the sofa or up the walls. Paper scattered on the grass, a few different colours of paint and a brush allows the kids to unleash their creativity while the grass ends up multi-coloured rather than your carpet – and you can sit down and
7. Water fight – Probably not my smartest idea but I bought a water pistol in the supermarket at the weekend. I suggested my child use it to water the plants but obviously it was much more fun to squirt mummy. This turned into a bit of a water fight and I think I had as much fun as she did! I will be going to buy a second water pistol this weekend, but I think it might have to be us vs. Daddy!
8. Make a scrapbook – Credit has to go to my mum for this one as I can remember doing this in the school holidays. Argos catalogue (other high street catalogues are available!) + paper/scrapbook + glue = hours of fun. Little ones can just randomly stick pictures to their heart’s content and the bigger kids can create a story. Or like my younger brother, they could just make a birthday/christmas list!
9. Make a den – Another really easy one, all you need is a blanket, a couple of chairs and maybe the sofa cushions. Add their favourite toys, a torch and a couple of biscuits and I bet you get at least half an hour’s peace.
10. Pet shop – who needs the zoo when you can go to the local pet shop and see the bunnies, guinea pigs and fish? We have spent quite some time naming every single moving thing in the shop before. The only problem is getting out without having to buy an animal, so far I have been lucky but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…