We know that being a parent can be difficult at times, especially when it comes to keeping children entertained during the long hot days of summer. As part of our Family Monsters Project, we’ve put together a paddling pool full of easy ideas that we hope will inspire happy holidays for the whole family – parents included! Read on for our first 5 tips on simple summer fun…
1. Pop to your local park
FREE – ALL AGES
A trip to the park is the go-to solution for many of us when we’re on a budget or pressed for a quick activity – and there’s a reason why! There’s something there for all ages – from toddling around on the grass to playing in the park/recreation area or having a game of football.
- Consider taking a football or frisbee with you for older children.
- If money’s tight, take a picnic or at least water with you so you don’t get caught out by the often high cost of cafés.
- Keep Britain Tidy manage the government’s “Green Flag” scheme which recognises well managed, accessible green spaces. You will find an easy to use interactive map here, which lists the Green Flag parks in your area, as well as, what facilities are available.
2. Catch a movie on the big screen
TREAT – ALL AGES
As a special treat, a trip to the cinema is always popular with children and parents alike. We know it’s often expensive, so only an occasional option for most families, but most cinemas often offer cheaper sessions during the holidays for younger children and families, so be sure to look before you book!
- Just because your child is very young it doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in some big screen action. Many cinemas across the UK run baby screenings where the child usually gets in free. Even better, films tend to be a little more adult friendly in baby screenings – so it’s a treat for you too!
- Many of the larger chains run promotions for families where parents can pay the same price as a family ticket – again check before you go!
- Make sure you take younger children to the toilet beforehand – no matter how many times they tell you they don’t need it!
“always popular with children and parents alike”
3. Build an indoor den or secret base
FREE – PRE-SCHOOL AGE PLUS
Building a den in your front room (or children’s bedroom) is always popular with younger children. They really enjoy the sense of building their own world – as well as flouting rules about what’s normally acceptable inside their real home!
- Children can turn chairs to face each other and lie larger sofa cushions between them to make roofs and tunnels, which saves you work.
- Children love to sit inside their creation, so encourage and help them to design something with a viable ‘indoor’ space.
- This is another great chance to engage children’s imaginations. Prompt them to consider what kind of base they’re building – is it a castle? Pirate ship? Space station? Superhero headquarters? You can then help with exciting suggestions (“every space station needs a radar…”, even if this is only a paper plate with a pencil pushed through it!)
4. Chalk drawings
CHEAP – ALL AGES
This is great fun and can be surprisingly engaging for older children, as the idea of drawing on the floor or walls outside can feel a little like breaking the rules! That said, it’s worth pointing out the law is unclear regarding the use of chalk in public spaces. As such, it’s safer to stick to your own backyard (don’t worry – a little rain or a full kettle will wash away even the most ambitious masterpiece!)
- You can often find money-saving multipack sets of chalk in pound shops or discount stores
- Save sibling arguments about colours and get two sets (or snap chalks in half), so everybody has all the colours they want – and none of the rivalry!
- Although this isn’t real graffiti, why not take inspiration from some of the better examples of graffiti art and become your own mini Banksy – for instance on using a few bold colours.
5. Build an obstacle course
FREE – ALL AGES
We’ve all been there – excitable children running round and round the house, shouting and screaming. In times like these, you can often harness all that energy by building a simple obstacle course. This can be done inside – or outside on a nice day – and even better costs nothing!
- Try to make it work on different levels – have children run along the sofa or a low wall! (Whatever you do, please make sure it’s safe first.)
- A good addition is adding something they need to go under – a blanket makes a surprisingly effective ‘net’!
- Try and work in skill challenges – like making a basketball or football shot, or walking with an egg and spoon. The repetition artificially makes the course last longer – which means you don’t have to come up with as many obstacles!
- If you have more than one child, get them to time each other using a stopwatch, so they can try and beat each other’s times!
If you enjoyed trying out any of our above ideas on how to have a great summer holiday with your children, please visit our Family Monsters site for more tips, information and support.