Updated: Jun 20, 2021
If you're anything like many parents out there you'll already be fretting as to how you're going to fill the time during the summer holidays and keep your little ones somewhat entertained.
An old favourite and can be made as elaborate as you like. Get the bedsheets and clotheshorses out and make your very own camping space in the living room. Get as creative as you can using the back of sofas and pegs to make your den bigger and better. Remember to get the children as involved as possible so they can feel a sense of pride and ownership over their new play space.
Why not move a laptop, cushions and snacks inside and have a movie night in your new little snug?
Move your den building outside... washing lines can be a great tool in making tent or teepee style spaces with large sheets and fabrics.
Failing that, you could always just pitch your tent up in the garden and have a trial camping weekend in your very own back yard.
Baking is always a sure favourite in our house. The whole process can involve the children, beginning with washing hands and preparing your baking space. Have the children hone their math skills as they count out spoonfuls or watch the scales to learn about measure. Talk about the science of the mixture changing consistency as you mix ingredients and as it cooks.
Finish up with cleaning the kitchen, ensuring the little ones understand the importance of keeping clean and kitchen items having their own spaces.
Don't worry if you're not a budding baker, children enjoy packet mixes and angel delights just as much as Granny's favourites or cookbook recipes. Just get them in the kitchen and pass an hour or two together.
GET CREATIVE IN THE GARDEN
There are many different creative activities you can explore in the garden alone.
give your child a bucket of water and a range of brushes, rollers etc. This is a mess free painting exercise that children can spend many hours exploring mark making in the sun, mesmerised when their marks dry and vanish before overpainting them again.
Shadow drawing is another exciting activity for outside, laying a number of toys or objects on large pieces of paper and have the children trace around the shadows the sun leaves behind. You could even draw them again an hour or two later and talk about why the shadow has moved.
Water play is a great way to keep active children cool on warmer days. if you don't have a pool or paddling area just provide the kids with a variety of sized bowls and buckets and let them experiment with pouring and filling.
Get the children to water the outdoor plants and explore the different settings on your hose.
If you want to go all out, you could treat them to water pistols and water balloons too.
Need a quiet half an hour? Run your child a mid day bath and tip the bath toys in...what kid doesn't love bath time eh?
CHILDREN'S APPS and WEBSITES
Whilst most of us are very aware of keeping screen time down to a minimum, I have to advocate that a little screen time still has its place.
Although we want to keep our children active and out in the natural world there are times when they also need some down time, where their bodies can rest a little. Times of the highest heat (usually just after lunchtime) is the perfect time to let your youngsters chill in front of the box.
During these times there are now so many children friendly apps and websites designed to stimulate their development, mathematical thinking, hand eye coordination and general learning.
Here are my personal favourites...
There are also the sites with games and programmes on from CBeebies and DisneyChannel.
Believe it or not there are now many nature reserves and walking routes just on your doorstep. Looking on local family sites or Facebook groups are a great way of discovering what's local to you.
Many English Heritage and National Park venues are free these days too, with you just paying for parking.
Remember to take a picnic though as they do know how to cash in on visiting families with their coffee shops and ice cream stalls.
Other activities you probably already have at home can include...
colouring, crafting, painting, planting in the garden or weeding, bug hunts, treasure hunts, making sandwiches or cooking dinner (depending on age), arranging play dates and sleep overs (COVID allowing), lego challenges, drawing tutorials and drawing challenges, daily chores like stripping beds and organising toys. You can even have movie days and duvet days when needed.
Whatever you do this Summer, just remember to have fun together. Parenting is often exhausting enough so don't give yourself a hard time if you have a couple of days at home with nothing planned, its just as important for children to go through the 'I'm bored' stages so they can learn to regulate and entertain themselves at times.
My personal Summer holiday rule is to plan 1 or 2 days out per week (only one with a cost involved) and the other days at home with one activity planned for each day.
Remember if grandparents take the children out then this can count as their treat day too.
If you have any other family friendly and cost effective way of keeping your little beauties entertained, why not leave a comment in the chat feature...