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School Holidays: The Great Entertainment Challenge
The school holidays can be a daunting prospect for parents. Whilst we love having our kids at home and having the time to chill out as a family, the thought of having to fill all those empty hours can be quite overwhelming. And of course it doesn’t help that all the normal things the kids do, (swimming lessons, stay-and-play sessions, youth groups) are usually cancelled through the holidays as well.
The Usual Solutions
There are generally two approaches to this challenge:
- Sit the kids in front of the TV / Electronic Device and wait it out
- Spend a fortune on taking the kids out here, there and everywhere
Now I’m not particularly a fan of either of these, and I don’t really know many parents who are; it’s just a way of coping. Being transfixed on a screen all day is unsociable and unhealthy. Going out on numerous day-trips is expensive and doesn’t allow time for creativity or rest.
So now I’ve painted a wonderfully bleak picture and got you all completely dreading the summer holidays starting in a few weeks (!), let me reassure you that I have a TRIED AND TESTED method to solve all your school holiday woes!
The ‘Pins’ Solution
Now I’ve been a full time mum to two children for the last five and half years, so I KNOW about the trials of keeping children entertained. I know the irritation of hearing the words, “I’m bored” for the six hundredth time today. I know the temptation to stick them in front of the TV and be done with it.
But a few years ago, I hit upon the idea of ‘pins’.
That sounds weird! Let me explain…
When the older ones are at school and I’ve just got little Charis at home, I have specific events to ‘pin’ my week on – Mondays I do my errands in town, Tuesdays I go to Toddler Group, Fridays I go to the school’s Celebration Assembly. They are fixed events that add some regularity and structure to my week. The events are mostly term-time only, so I really struggle when the school holidays roll around, until I had the brainwave of creating my own ‘pins’!
Now, I divide each holiday up into weeks. Then I give each week a theme (we have had Fairy Week, Pirate Week, Music Week, Chinese Week). Then each day (Mon-Fri) I plan one activity which ties into the theme. The activity can be anything from 15 minute craft to a 2 hour film, as long as it fits the theme. It breaks the day up and gives the children something to look forward.
Here is an example of Creepy Crawly Week from our summer holidays last year:
|Take photos on a Bug Safari
|Baker Ross Bee Craft
|Butterfly Face Paint
|Watch A Bug’s Life
Visit the Butterfly House
Using this method means that you can plan things around whatever your children enjoy. If they’re into Spiderman, have a Spider Week. If they like running around, have a Sports Week. The possibilities are endless.
Hints and Tips
I generally keep the activities secret until we’re ready to do them so that the anticipation is there. This also means that I can be flexible (e.g. a bug safari would not have been much fun in the rain, so if Monday’s weather looked bad, I could’ve swapped the activities around).
Keep costs down by using resources that you already have. So if you’re doing a Princess Week, and your kids have a Princess Jigsaw, timetable that as one of your activities.
Have a look on the internet for free events going on around you. Libraries and tourist attractions often put on special events in the school holidays. Then build your week around that trip. Our library hosted a Gruffalo picnic at half term, so we had Forest Week and learnt about all the different creatures that live in the forest. Then the trip to the library fitted in perfectly.
I generally aim for about 1 trip out a week. This can be as simple as a visit to the park for Sports Week, or a full on day trip to the beach for Seaside Week.
Over To You…
So now I’ve given you some ideas, get planning. I’d love to hear what you come up with.
Or feel free to use some of mine. These are the posts that contain plans:
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