Do you dread the summer holidays, wondering how on earth to keep the kids entertained over the summer? The fear of not being able to fill the time may lead to the temptation of booking the kids into one summer activity camp after another. This is a necessity if as a working parent you are unable to take six weeks off! If you have an option however, do your own thing over this summer, and don’t structure it so it’s just like a school day! I love the school holidays, and like to just “go with the flow”.
It’s a good idea to start adding any events or activities that look interesting to your calendar from now on – or better still, get the kids to make a summer activity calendar or ideas list. The whole family can add to this and by the time summer comes around, you will have your own “What’s On” for a summer of full of fun.
My top secret tip for keeping kids entertained over the summer? Keep a big stock of picnic friendly food that can be thrown together quickly for a spontaneous outing (because the forecast said rain but the sun makes an appearance instead)!
Here’s a few of the things that have kept us busy for the last few years, and our tips for a stress free summer of fun, both out and about and when at home.
- First and foremost, remember that fun does not have to cost a fortune and that every day does not need to be a Big Day Out. Plan any such days, e.g. theme parks and attractions, zoos etc, in advance and look out for special deals and discounts. You can often print out 2-for-1 or kids-go-free vouchers on the internet. Reward schemes like Tesco Clubcard vouchers are also brilliant for big savings.
- If the main family holiday is not a seaside destination, a day at the beach is a must (my children are now 12 and 17 and this is still a favourite day out).
- Explore your local village or town. Are there things you have never done, right on your doorstep because “that’s for tourists”?
- Find local village fairs, festivals and parades – these always make a great day out. Encourage the kids to take part in any competitions (our local fete has a kids baking competition, painting/drawing, dog shows etc).
- Look out for events in local parks and museums. Many hold free activities for families throughout the summer and other school holidays, including free concerts and family days with local community displays and fun workshops.
- Join the National Trust. Many of the Trust’s sites hold family activities in the summer and other school holidays, such as pond dipping, nature trails, craft activities and living history days.
- Try a new sport at your local leisure centre, in addition to swimming and water fun. Most sports centres have holiday programmes.
- Why not get the kids to have a sort out of their toys and books and help them do a table top sale? I did this last year with the kids, they made £60 and we went shopping the next day and they spent it all….
- Join the Reading Challenge held every summer at libraries throughout the UK. Many libraries will also have storytelling sessions or art and craft activities.
- Pick a favourite topic or hobby and do a project. Keep a scrapbook diary together as a family or one each–Not only does this encourage creativity, but it keep kids entertained and you end up with a lovely record of your summer.
- Give younger kids a few chairs or bamboo canes and some old sheets, or some very large cardboard boxes, and they will happily spend hours making tents and houses, and concocting plays and dramas.
- Have a treasure hunt in the garden or in the house. Older children could even plan it and set it up for younger ones.
- Invite a few friends around or go to a local park with them and hold your own sports day.
- Go strawberry picking in June/July or wild blackberry picking in late summer and make jam!
- Have a water fight in the garden – large washing up liquid bottles make brilliant water pistols for little ones. You’ll hear nothing but squeals of delight.
- Get the kids to make a movie – so much easier these days! The movie can then be used to entertain grandparents when they visit! Or encourage creative photography – digital cameras are a brilliant invention.
- Keep a stock of craft kits, model kits, activity packs etc. I look out for bargains at places like TK Maxx and The Works. Great for quiet days in and children always love opening something new. A selection of fun board games is also really useful.
- Try a big jigsaw – something age appropriate but a challenge– we usually start a 1000 piece one and leave it out – everyone spends a few minutes here and there, it takes weeks to do but everyone mucks in.
- Last but not least, don’t forget to have the odd pyjama day – kids (and parents!) need down time to do “nothing”. You don’t have to fill every minute with a stimulating or educational or physical activity. It is OK to watch television or favourite DVD’s, play computer games, watch the clouds go by, or just “be”.
Have a great summer!