It’s been back to school this week, a week of Easter holidays. Spending quality time with the kids is a top priority for parents and in our case, our school holidays allow us to spend three months a year with our little cherubs, a pleasure indeed. Says she in the midst of the f*%&!g fours.
The problem I have is that the boys love all things technical. Whilst, at this age, it very much means iPad games and Peppa Pig, some days it is still too much for my liking. Although I think there is a time and place for technology and young children I often see it have an adverse effect on my four year old. When he’s had too much his attention levels drop, he expects immediate gratification.
Which is why on school holidays especially we limit his access to the dreaded screen. We have family movie time but that’s about it. And generally it’s the same film over and over again, I’ve lost count of the number of times I watched Cars last summer.
The only problem here is that it leaves, what sometimes feels like, great voids of time to fill. And great wads of money to be spent. I will never forget heading to Alton Towers two summers ago and being told the price, given that the last time I went was when I was 17 I was in a fair amount of shock. Similar happened when we visited Chatsworth House, a fantastic day out for all of us (even in the rain) but with the prices climbing it made us realise that we couldn’t sustain this level of days out for the entirety of the school holidays.
So what do you do when the kids are off, they are climbing up the walls, you don’t want to part with any more cash and you’re determined to stick to your guns about the limitations you’ve placed on screen time?
It sounds like a bit of a cliché but sometimes the best things in life are free. The ‘back in my day’ brigade managed to survive a childhood devoid of internet access and a mere handful of TV channels (if that!) when kids’ play centers were a mere daydream.
Getting out of the house
A walk through the woods
The deep dark woods…. across the UK are a variety of Julia Donaldson trails from Superworm, to Stick Man to the Gruffalo.
Put on your wellies and go hunting. Not a trail near you? Pull on your wellies anyway I’m yet to meet a kid who didn’t like to go stick hunting.
A trip to the park
Running round the local playground, up and over the grass. Swinging so high you feel as though you may just fly into space….
A walk of discovery
Whether you live in the countryside or the middle of town it’s easy to set up an orienteering type of course for young children.
Make a list, with pictures, of things they need to find. From leaves, to roadsigns, to a stick. They can be local points of interest.
Take your camera and snap photos of them as they “discover” more about where they live.
A picnic somewhere beautiful
Packing up a picnic and heading up to the nearest beauty spot, which for us is Carsington Water by my mums house, taking the bikes and enjoying the fresh air together.
If it rains? No problem – have a car picnic and then head out to jump in some muddy puddles together!
Go strawberry picking
A chance to have an afternoon out and some of the freshest strawberries you’ll ever taste? All for the price of a punnet…. yes please.
This is what memories are made of.
Staying at home
Slime, slime, slime
Make your own slime. If you’ve not seen this pop up on your Facebook feed at any point during the last year where have you been?! This is a wonderful recipe for borax free (because, my UK friends, what on earth is Borax??) home-made slime that costs less than £2, plus all ingredients can be bought from Aldi.
Get in the kitchen
From baking to helping prepare the evening meal. Kids absolutely love ‘helping’ to cook dinner and there are plenty of things for them to do in the kitchen. Washing vegetables (prepare for flooding) or mixing (prepare for spills) are tasks that even very young children will love.
Dining out can be a stressful experience with kids but a great alternative is to let the kids help choose a takeaway. So many great restaurants are now signing up to companies like Deliveroo, who will bring you premium quality food straight to your very door.
Make a rainbow
Out of spaghetti, simply cook up batches of spaghetti and then mix with food colouring and oil. Hey presto, rainbow spaghetti.
We put ours in a paddling pool and try to contain the mess. We fail most times.
Have a jelly flood
For any Ben and Holly fans out there, make your own Jelly flood. Taking a mix of small toys, throw them in a large tupperware and then cover them in layers of jelly. Let it set and then set them to work freeing the toys from Nanny Plum’s latest jelly disaster.
On the approximately 3.4 minutes of summer that we are bound to have a twist on the jelly flood is to freeze toys in water. Tip it out in the garden and let the kids hack away with various “tools” until they’ve freed those poor lost souls.
Of course there are also many wonderful days out to be had in the UK; Thomas Land, CBeebies (once I got over the shock of the price), The Sea Life Centre, the zoo, the Adventure Farm to name but a few days out myself and the boys enjoyed over the past few summers.
Parents really can bust the burden of boredom with a mixture of creative, kid-friendly activities and fun family adventures!
Which is a good thing, because this summer we’re really doing the summer exodus from Qatar, leaving expat life behind from the 22nd June until the 30th August mostly without my husband – eeep!