As much as you may miss your children when they are at school, the thought of suddenly having them home for weeks on end during the school holidays can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few ways to keep them occupied while retaining your sanity.
Children are never too young to start learning about food, and you may even find that if you can teach them more about how it is prepared and how different foods are put together, they may become more adventurous at the dining table: a welcome development if you can’t face opening another tin of spaghetti hoops.
While the kitchen may seem like a dangerous place, there are plenty of activities children can do that avoid either sharp knives or hot pans. Baking is a traditional cooking activity for youngsters (they will always fondly remember being allowed to lick out the cake bowl), but a great activity is to make a tomato sauce or ketchup. Not only will this educate them that some home-made food can be even tastier than mass-produced versions, but it’s something that they can use at multiple meals as a reminder of their work.
Playing in the garden has a host of benefits: it gets the children out in the fresh air, it gives you a bit of peace in the house, and it can be a great excuse or encouragement for you to get round to some gardening tasks. If you’re cunning enough, you can pass off garden work as both an educational and fun activity for the children, though you may need to keep a close eye on them: many parents have learned the hard way that some children are overly-enthusiastic when it comes to digging up “weeds”!
There are also several garden activities that tick all the boxes: free, educational and very time-consuming for the kids. One simple example is a competition to see who can spot the widest range of bugs, a game that works even better in the age of cameraphones and online reference guides.
The biggest problem with picking a school holiday activity is finding the right balance between keeping children’s attention without the parents going out of their minds at hordes of screaming youngsters and a barrage of primary colours. While museums are a common compromise, with many of them offering activities and interactive exhibits aimed at children, an option many people overlook is National Trust properties. Many venues offer special activities, particularly during holidays, ranging from simple guided tours to arts and craft events and even ghost trails.
Have a clear out
Tidying bedrooms is a great way of killing time and achieving a practical benefit, but it can be a tough sell. One way to get round this is a car boot sale with their unwanted toys or books. Depending on how mercenary your children are, you can either let them keep the profits, or donate some or all of the cash to a charity of their choice.
Written by Sam Luther, a gardening and lifestyle blogger.