You don’t need to cry out for help this summer. You can enjoy time with your children, without breaking the bank, or your sanity.
A great task we’ve done is to sit down before the start of the holiday and clarify four key things each of my children would like to do.
I give them some yellow paper to write down their choices for sunny day activities, then blue paper to write down rainy day activities.
They can choose more than four activities, but it’s important that they know we won’t necessarily have time to do everything.
Once they’ve made their choices, we go over them and chat about their expectations. Some activities have been written down more than once, so we can discard them, so there’s only one request for each specific activity.
We then pop them into a clear tub. That way, whenever we’re stuck for something to do, or we want to have a day of planned activities, we take it in turns to pick out a piece of paper and we do the activity on it.
The best things to do with your children can be free and close to home.
The favourite activities my kids write down are going for walks, playing in the garden, playing Lego, drawing, swimming, going for a picnic or watching a film.
Before we did this, my husband and I used to think that we ‘had’ to take the kids to specific parks, zoos, or attractions.
We often had to nag the kids to get dressed and get out of the house on time to make the most of the day. We spent a fortune getting into the attraction, then on lunch etc and wondered why we were doing it.
The new way is better for us all.
Not only because we get quality time together, but it’s giving our kids a voice to choose what they want to do. It helps us have connection and we get outside in nature, enjoying fresh air and exercise.
Getting out in the garden and setting up obstacle courses, treasure hunts and picnics is great for most ages.
We’ve also had great fun going to the library, then setting up a reading den in the garden to chill out in for the rest of the day.
Being in nature is wonderful to ‘ground’ your kids and yourself.
Walking on the grass barefoot, or getting your hands in the dirt, can help you feel connected to the world again. It calms your kids down, can help them take a break from arguments and have a sense of security. When they don’t have that sense of security or love, that’s when they can act out. Grounding can give them the connection they’re longing for.
So, if one of my children is getting too angry, or wound up about something, I get them to go outside and we’ll climb a tree, plant some seeds, or run around barefoot. Being out in nature also helps them sleep well, which is an extra bonus.
Being by water is also an activity to keep everyone calmer. My kids ask to go to the beach, or to the river, so they can have a good splash around.
Get your wellies on and visit a local river, stream, or the sea. You could make a checklist of animals you’d like to spot, skim stones, or just have fun. Water is great for relaxing everyone and helping you feel connected. I used to go to the beach as a teenager, just to sit and hear the waves. I’d write in my journal and pour my heart out. Being by the water helped put things into perspective for me and studies show it lowers levels of anxiety, stress and pain.
Another great activity to try with your children is art.
We go on Pinterest and find some craft ideas that we’d like to do and if we need resources, we pop to the Poundshop (or similar).
If it’s a nice day, we’ll sit outside for the arts and crafts (less messy than doing it in the house) and see what results we get. It’s a great chance for the kids to get messy and let their creative juices flow. You don’t even need a lot of resources. We love to collect petals or leaves and turn them into a picture, or we just sit and paint what we like. If you take part in arts and crafts with your children it encourages creative thinking and it can boost their self esteem – getting them ready for the changes in the next school year.
Finally, if it’s a rainy day, we often bake together, play games and then watch a family movie.
Baking together encourages connection. It helps children have a sense of independence and, if it works out, the results are delicious.
Playing games can be a rough ride if your children fight. Yes, there have been many times when a board game has flown across the room and one of my kids has stormed off in a huff. However, games can encourage social interaction, enhance memory and improve problem solving skills.
And movies? I’m a bit biased as I studied film at University!
They help you switch off and escape to a fantasy world. If it’s an inspirational film, like ‘The Greatest Showman’ it can help your children develop a love of singing and dancing, with the message that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to.
And a good comedy can help everyone feel better and release pent up emotions. Comedies can change your state and lift a bad mood in an instant.
I’d love to hear what activities you try and what works for you this holiday.