Surviving the summer holidays

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Ah, the summer holidays – in theory, days and days of wonderful sunshine, with happy children playing blissfully outdoors. In reality – hours and hours and HOURS of “Muuuum, I’m boooored.” As a parent who works from home, it’s just not feasible to take six weeks off to entertain the little darlings all day every day, so this year I decided to get organised.
 
The kids and I have ‘designed’ a Summer Holiday Planner to map out childcare, family/friend visits, and free local holiday club activities (do check with your local council if these are running near you).
 
I’ve also been stockpiling ideas to keep them occupied on the days when there are no specific trips, visits or activities planned to make sure there are no surprise days of yawning emptiness to catch us out these hols.

Plan outdoor activities
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Plan outdoor activities

Create a kids area outside

I’m a firm believer in fresh air for kids – it seems to make them argue less and sleep better (could any parent ask for more?) Setting up a kids table outside, has meant they can do loads of ‘indoor’ things out in the fresh air instead: reading, drawing, colouring, eating lunch, supper, even breakfast – it all becomes more fun outdoors. 
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Get a portable BBQ

You won’t regret it. You can use it in the garden, the park, the beach. Set yourselves a challenge to cook every meal on the BBQ for a whole day. Let older kids (with supervision) learn the principles of cooking outdoors. See if there is anything you can’t barbecue.

The woods can transofrm them into little explorers
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The woods can transofrm them into little explorers

Find a wood to play in

Trees to climb, roots to follow, leaves to collect, dens to discover – woods are one of the best playgrounds around. They’re also a great way to encourage an interest in nature. Key bits of kit for a little explorer: a magnifying glass, a spotting bugs/trees/wild flowers book, and a special container to store their ‘collections’ in once you get home (DIY nail/screw/bolts organisers are great for this – as is this sewing box).
Beaches, rivers, lakes and reservoirs are brilliant
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Beaches, rivers, lakes and reservoirs are brilliant

Go to the beach

We are lucky enough to live in Cornwall, very close to a brilliant kid-friendly beach. Even if the sea is too far for a day-trip, rivers, lakes and reservoirs can all do the trick. Take swimming things, a bucket and spade (per child to avoid arguments!), plenty of food, your portable BBQ and you’re set for the day. Using shells, stones and sticks they find on the shore can result in castles and towns galore. 

Set up a treasure hunt
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Set up a treasure hunt

Set a treasure hunt

This takes some planning in advance, but gives you  hours of time for yourself while the kids follow the clues and discover the ‘treasure’. Depending on their ages, the clues can be as cryptic or easy as you like. Hide clues in buried tins, up climbable trees, at a (amenable!) neighbour’s house, inside and outside – let your imagination run wild. 

Let the kids let fly!
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Let the kids let fly!

Make a mess

School is full of rules. The holidays should be a time to let all that go – at least for a little bit. Set up an easel in the garden, get some pots of washable paints, some different sized brushes, some old clothes – and let the kids let fly! One of the best bits of kit we have is a length of water-proof fabric which we use for just about everything: protecting the grass/floor from paint, as a tablecloth, a picnic rug, even as a water-slide with a hose when it’s hot. 
Celebrate with 3D animal cookies
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Celebrate with 3D animal cookies

Have some rainy day activities up your sleeve

A little bit of rain never hurt anyone, but let’s face it, a torrential downpour does put a dampener on fun times with the kids outdoors. So have a few back-up indoor activities up your sleeve for those days when the weather is truly dreadful. I recently came across these brilliant 3D animal cookie cutters which have been a huge hit with my kids. They can help make the dough, cut them out, build them – and eat them of course :)

Plan some time away

We fail to do this repeatedly year after year, and only realise how important it is on around September 2nd when it’s *just* too late. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or involve foreign climes - a weekend with the grandparents, or even camping in a friend’s (ideally much bigger) garden. Packing, upping sticks and renouncing all other commitments for a short time means everyone feels they’ve ‘done something’ this holidays. It also clears the air of cabin fever and reminds you all how nice it is to be home. 

About the author

Daisy Griffith is the founder of Mummymail – a free weekly email containing the best of the internet. 

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