Six weeks of entertaining the kids needn’t be hard work. Lifestyle writer and parenting blogger Natalie Ray shares nine boredom-busting activities to help you along the way this summer holiday
As the founder of parenting blog Plutonium Sox (named after her dog) and with two children, Natalie is no stranger to the pressures of the summer holidays. To help you through, she’s rounded up nine fun, different and economical ways to spend time as a family over the summer holidays…
1. Make idea jars
At the start of the summer holidays, find a couple of empty jam jars and some scraps of paper. Help children to label one jar with ‘days’ and one with ‘hours’. Next, rip up your paper and write a fun activity or day out on each piece. Anything quick goes in the ‘hours’ jar. Things that take all day go in the ‘days’ jar.
Now the next time you hear cries of “Muuuuuum, I’m bored!” Or, “Daaaaad, what are we doing tomorrow?” Simply pull a piece of paper from one of the jars for instant inspiration.
2. Experiment in the kitchen
There’s nothing more satisfying than eating something you’ve baked yourself. This easy bread recipe can be made with minimal effort. If baking’s not your thing, grow some salad veg in the garden or on the windowsill – cress seeds are a great way to start. My children also love fruit picking in summer, which is great for homemade desserts.
3. Take on the summer reading challenge
Every year, local libraries host a Summer Reading Challenge for primary school-aged children. This year’s hero book is Animal Agents, which encourages children to solve mysteries. The challenge is to read six books throughout the holidays and for every book they read, children can collect a sticker for their animal agent detective folder.
4. Get creative with handprints
Even the least crafty among us can manage painting with handprints and you can get all ages involved. Worried about mess? Buy a huge piece of paper and take it outside in the garden with some washable paints. Children can paint their hands and feet and create a messy masterpiece without the worry. Or check out this video for a super simple handprint card.
5. Head to a National Trust property
The National Trust used to be the haunt of tea-sipping pensioners, but today they’re fun for everyone. Properties cater for children all year round – from garden treasure hunts to history quizzes – and have extra activities on during school holidays. Most places have plenty of outdoor space to run around – look out for ones with playgrounds, too.
6. Go wild swimming
In really hot weather, there’s no better way to cool off than going for a dip together. But you don’t have to battle the crowds at the local pool – there are hundreds of family-friendly and safe swimming and paddling spots in lakes, rivers and coastal waters around the UK. It’s also a great way to discover more about your natural surroundings. Head to the Wild Swim website to see where you can swim outdoors for free.
7. Check out local holiday clubs
Holiday clubs can be a lifeline for working parents. And, even if you don’t work, you still deserve a few hours to yourself during the summer. Fit For Sport offer activity camps nationwide to get children into sport this summer. It’s also worth checking what’s on at children’s schools and sports clubs. We found a great holiday club by looking on the noticeboard at our local swimming pool.
8. Try geocaching
Geocaching is a massive GPS treasure hunt with ‘caches’ or treasures hidden at outdoor locations all over the world. It’s a great way to get children outdoors and all you need is a smartphone or other GPS device to take part. Check out the UK geocaching website to learn the etiquette and locate your first cache.
9. Sign up to volunteer
Even young children can volunteer in the local community, and helping others can give them a sense of social responsibility and build self-esteem.
Take some food to a local foodbank to teach them that not everyone is as fortunate as them, or go on an organised litter pick, weed a communal garden or make a bird feeder. Check out the BBC’s Do Something Great opportunities or V Inspired to find out who needs help in your local area.
Whatever you decide to do with the kids this summer, remember that the days might be long, but the years are short. Once children start school, the summer holidays are the things they’ll remember most about family time, so make them count!
Want to learn more about keeping fit together? Read our 7 inspiring ways to be fit and happy as a family.