That’s it, another school year over and six (or more) long weeks lie ahead, no school, sunshine and fun! Of course, as a child the prospect of the long summer holidays filled you with a sense of excitement, now you are a parent the thought of six whole weeks without any form of childcare can be, overwhelming, to say the least. As we are on the cusp of the final school day, I am certain there will be hundreds of cries of, ‘I’m bored,’ and plenty of lashing out at each other in the days to come. Let’s be honest, how do you keep small children constantly entertained without spending a fortune? I know it can’t be easy, but it is possible. Here are some fun tips and tricks to surviving the summer.
- Painted rock treasure hunt. This is a great activity to do with friends or family, and fun for all ages. Collect rocks and paint them in a variety of patterns, then hide them around the local town, or playground and set about finding those painted by others! Once you have found some why not re-hide in different places. This is an activity that can keep going all Summer long!
- Library reading challenges. Take a trip to your local library at the beginning of the holiday and join in with their reading challenge, most libraries offer one and they are a great way to keep up with books when out of school. A lot of children will enjoy the competitive element which will entice them to take part.
- Home made bird feeders. Cover old loo rolls in peanut butter and dip them in birdseed then hang them around the garden. Over the coming weeks watch the birds coming to and from the garden. Use the RSPB ‘bird identifier’ tool on their website and make a chart of the birds you have spotted.
- The Bored jar. So, it will happen at some point, ‘I’m bored’. But before it does be organised with a ‘bored jar’. Fill the jar with activities of all sorts and as soon as the words I am bored are uttered make the kids draw one activity from the jar. Some of the activities can be things they enjoy, go for a bike ride, climb a tree, play tennis, but why not throw chores in there too? Chances are they will dread finding a chore and make their own fun instead of complaining to you!
- Sponge Ball Baseball. I stopped buying water balloons as it seemed pretty wasteful, but instead we have made some ‘sponge balls’ using old absorbent materials tied into a ball. Dip the ball in water and use it as a baseball for water play fun that doesn’t require a hose if bans are enforced!
- Ice Chalk. Mix cornflour, water and food colouring together then freeze in an ice cube tray. The ice cubes make fab ‘ice chalk’ a great way to cool down on a hot day.
- Indoor laser maze. Use long streamers of crepe paper to create a ‘laser maze’ down a narrow hallway. The kids have to get through it without breaking the paper. This is a good one for a rainy day!
- Cheap outings! It is often easier to entertain the kids when out and about. Try livening up park trips with scavenger hunts or nature trails so they don’t become repetitive, meet other families for picnics, or find a local stream for paddling. Perhaps consider investing in a national trust pass or annual pass to another fun local destination for more varied days out.
The most important thing to remember is that we all have days where we feel overwhelmed and that is totally normal. Don’t cut yourself off from others over the holidays because you feel you are not coping or are exhausted, it often helps to chat to friends and neighbours and perhaps look after each other’s children on occasion, so you get a little break too.