Alright, it’s the school holidays, you’ve peeled yourself off the settee after weeks of watching non-stop football and tennis (no? Just me?), you’re stuck for ideas on how to keep the kids entertained without resorting to Netflix or the iPad. Here are some to get you started.
If it’s wet and raining...
Bake or cook something
BBC Good Food and Cooking on a Bootstrap have some simple, easy to follow recipes with storecupboard ingredients (nothing fancy pants here!) that are great to get young children or tentative adults started in baking and cooking. Here are some of my favourites:
Caramel biscuits: four, yes FOUR ingredients! Requires a mixing bowl, spoon, scales and baking tray. If I end up with too much mixture I roll it into biscuit sized balls and freeze them unbaked so they’re ready to pop in the oven whenever I need another batch.
Peanut butter and jam cookies: allergy dependent, of course, but these are simple, tasty treats and small children will enjoy making the thumb imprint in the unbaked biscuit for the jam to sit in.
Soda bread: a basic bread recipe that requires no proving time. This is a quick introduction to bread making for children and reluctant adults who think it is too hard. Simply mix, knead and bake!
Grow seedlings, plants or herbs
Sunflowers are good to grow as they do so quickly so the children can see the results of their efforts comparatively early on.
Herbs can be planted as seeds or simply get a living pot from the supermarket to keep on the windowsill. However homegrown tomatoes and herbs can be used in cooking and made even more special if the children have helped to grow them!
Have a mass clear out!
OK, so this may not be the most popular suggestion you’ll ever make and you might want to save it for when you’ve exhausted all other possibilities and the kids are bored stiff. Having a clear out is different to asking them to tidy their room.
If they have toys and clothes they’ve outgrown, specialist hobby items they never use, now is the time to let them go. Emphasise there is no pressure on them to give away or keep anything because of guilt, it is their belongings. If they no longer like, want, need, use or play with them, let them go to a new home.
Grab some boxes and bags and get started! If items are good enough to sell, do so and the kids can use their money for something they want. After they have purged some items they may find it easier to keep on top of what they do own.
Read a book
Wet, rainy days are the perfect excuse to pick up that book you’ve always wanted to read. If the children are reluctant, a comic book or even a reference book on something they’re interested in is better than nothing. Get comfy on the settee with a drink and some nibbles.
Depending on what age your children read at, try and choose a book that you can both enjoy yet read separately. This can lead to an animated conversation about favourite parts and characters and encourage a bit healthy competition to see who can get to the end first! If it is a movie tie-in like Harry Potter or The Hobbit, compare the book to the movie.
And, if all else fails...
Have a movie day! Let everyone pick their favourite movie, lay out some finger food or let the kids make their own bread bun pizzas with buns, tomato ketchup and grated cheese heated under the grill, sit back and enjoy your favourites!
If it’s dry...
Find an outdoor active hobby to do together
Whether it is an evening stroll through the local park or a bike ride along the seafront, it will get you all out in the fresh air even for just half an hour. Either leave the tech at home, or if your kids are really fussy, open the camera on your phone and let them take photographs during their walk.
Obviously this is for later in the day on a clear night. Even for those who have no night sky knowledge, Star Walk is a great app for identifying and locating objects in the sky. Depending on the time and its trajectory, you might even spot the International Space Station!
Don’t worry if there is light cloud or background streetlight pollution. I’ve seen the red bands around Jupiter through a telescope in my back garden and I’ve photographed the Northern Lights over South Shields at Marsden.
If you are more serious about getting away from light pollution, Waldridge Fell is a good, dark vantage point, but wait for a clearer night. Once your eyes adjust to the dark, try to avoid using bright lights, including mobile phones until you have finished your stargazing.
Find local outdoor family events
Sadly, Theatre Space NE’s Shakespearean Plays in the Park have had to give 2018 a miss due to lack of funding (boo!), however there are still events being held across the summer. Check local magazines and newspapers and browse Groupon and Wowcher for discounts on Birds of Prey centres.
Some of the English Heritage locations have outdoor plays at their venues that are family orientated. Otherwise visit a local attraction that you haven’t yet been to and make a day of it! Take a picnic and find a nice outdoor spot to enjoy it.
What other ways have you come up with to stave off boredom during the summer holidays?