Summer holidays are here! The last academic year may have been an unusual one with more time at home than we’re used to and summer breaks may be less likely than in previous years. As parents, we might have to work a bit harder to keep the cries of “I’M BORED” at bay this time around. So here’s our round-up of everything you need to know about keeping the kids busy over the summer.
1. MAKE INSTAGRAM YOUR BEST FRIEND
Social media gets a bad rep and sometimes it deserves it. But when it comes to keeping kids occupied over the summer, it’s a treasure trove of creative ideas. Check out Five Minute Mum, Mini Writers Club, The Bebe Stylist, Busy Toddler, Cinta and Co, Best Ideas for Kids, Recycle and Play, Day Out with the Kids, Play Hooray, Becky’s Treasure Baskets, Play At Home Mummy, Play and Learn Activities.
2. A SCHEDULE KEEPS EVERYONE OUT OF MISCHIEF
But keep it baggy enough to live in. There’s no fun to be had with a regimented schedule that makes the army look like a holiday. But a schedule can help everyone know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Sitting down together on a Sunday night and planning out the things that you’re going to do over the week ahead can get everyone excited for what’s to come while providing structure and routine. Most kids like a bit of routine, and it makes our lives a bit easier too. Make calendars and planners, cross things off as you do them – and count down to the big ticket events to build excitement. Take this to the next level for older kids by giving them a summer journal that they can use to reflect on their experiences too.
3. OUTDOORS IS A TONIC FOR THE MIND
Not only does getting the kids outside get them out from under your feet, it’s good for them too. Tearing them away from screens might be difficult (more on that in a minute) but getting them outside is crucial for everyone’s sanity. And you can go as far afield as you like. If you’ve got a garden, sometimes that’s far enough. Otherwise, local parks are a blessing. Celebrate Tokyo 2020 with your own version of the Olympics with games that require little equipment… a sack race with pillowcases, tug of war with a dressing gown belt! Use your imagination. Sometimes even just a game of catch is enough to break the cycle of screen monotony. Early Years Outdoors is packed with ideas.
4. MEAL PLANS MAKE LIFE EASIER
Summer holidays mean you’re feeding a lot of mouths for a lot of meals. Remove some of the stress from the situation by planning ahead – and getting the kids involved in the process and the prep (though arguably, the latter could add some stress). Lunch is so easy to forget when we’re not used to feeding little mouths and big appetites seven days a week, so planning these in means it won’t become a last minute scramble. Maybe you could even negotiate with some of the other parents in your area to share the load (and the meals). Platters or “picky food” is perfect for eating in the garden or on the go.
5. BUILD SCREEN TIME INTO THE SCHEDULE
We are not parents who don’t believe in screen time. At all. Screens have their benefits (see our next point!) and can be a godsend, but getting kids off screens and into the real world when we want to can be a struggle. Making it a “forbidden fruit” will only make it more enticing to your kids, so when you’re pulling together that schedule from step 2, leave time for gaming or playing on their screens of choice. That way your children know it’s not off the agenda completely, it’s just not for right now. In theory, that means you’re saying “sure, you can use your iPad or watch that show, but we’ve got to do all this other fun stuff first…”. It’s the perfect distraction technique.
6. LIFESAVING TOOLS
When you do let your kids have screen time, you could make it screen time that’s education masquerading as fun. There are some amazing tools out there that will fascinate them, but educate them at the same time. Tools like Google Arts and Culture, London Zoo webcams, DuoLingo, WindowSwap, YouTube’s Art for Kids Hub, Nasa Kids Club, Wonderopolis and National Geographic Kids are all gamechangers that will keep them occupied long enough for you to get on with whatever else you need to. Or long enough for you to have a hot cuppa at least.
What are your plans for keeping the kids busy over the summer? Let us know on Instagram or in the HMHB Facebook community!