School’s almost out for summer, and while the break from
routine is welcomed here and the prospect of owning our evenings again very
much appeals, there is a real need to find something to occupy the troops at
least some of the time.
The biggest challenge for me personally is not actually the
numbers, but more the age span. Finding something to keep everyone occupied
isn’t easy. So with “compromise” as our word for the summer, here’s a few
suggestions of things that might help to keep your own troops busy and mean
that “I’m bored” doesn’t become the soundtrack of the next nine weeks!
Make hay while the sun shines! The recent
spell of good weather is enough to put anyone in the form for taking lunch off
site. The reality unfortunately is that the weather in Ireland is never
guaranteed, so when the sun comes out, you need to take full advantage. The
picnic needn’t even involve huge preparation - Some croissants, fruit and maybe
a couple treats picked up in the nearest supermarket for the last minute dot
com parents amongst us, means that taking advantage of the weather can be
decided on the day. If you’re lucky enough to live near a park with a
playground, there’s a double attraction, but if not, there’s sure to be a green
area somewhere that you can take advantage of. Food and an outing on one go – a
This one needn’t be dependent on the
weather, though of course it’s always nicer when the sun shines. Sea and
sandcastles on a fabulous day are great fun, regardless of age but if grey
skies come to play instead, then wrap up, bring old shoes or flip flops, skim
stones through the waves and run to the edge and away again, playing the “don’t
let the water touch my toes” game. Just as much fun, if you join in too!
It’s definitely worth teaching the kids to
play some of the games that you enjoyed as a child yourself. If they manage to rope
in some of the neighbourhood kids – there’s near guaranteed longer hours of
fun. Rounders, bulldog, kick the can, “crocodile, crocodile”, What time is it
Mister Wolf, skipping, hopscotch. The
possibilities are endless - and free!
4. Cinema clubs
Many cinemas run kids clubs in
the morning time, offering the opportunity to see relatively new releases, at a
cheaper price. A good option for the very rainy days.
5. Visiting time
The summer hols can be the
perfect time to visit relatives and cousins who live a little further away. My
kids love visiting and while some recipients aren’t as good as others at hiding
their horror at the prospect of our invasion , family ties mean they have to
get over it, or at the very least have a lot of believable excuses ready. Persistence is the key here!
And the counter side of that, is invite
people over. Playdates, cousins, family friends. Invite people to yours. The troops
here love having visitors and different playmates too.
7. Go out for a treat.
Another one that can be a good
option for days when the weather is not so great. Take the kids for a bun,
ice-cream, hot chocolate etc. It’s great “motivation” too and downright bribery
to get them to behave ahead of the event. To make everything run smoothly,
particularly if your numbers are up like mine or depending on the age of your
kids, speak to them before you go. Lay down the rules about not running around,
fighting etc. Take their orders, ahead of time where possible, so that no time
is lost once you arrive and opportunities for “energetic” displays are limited.
And remind them, that if they’re really good while they’re there, you might be
able to do it again in the future.
8. Swimming pool.
Not dependent on the weather, but
definitely one for consideration on those less sunny days, a trip to the pool
has the advantage of exercise, excitement and tiring them out!
9. Rookie Lifeguard training and Lifeguard
And speaking of swimming – one
for the older children are the training and lifeguard courses that are run in
many swimming pools, including throughout the summer. Something to do and a
fantastic life skill to have. Another upside is the future summer job opportunities
that will become an option.
the pet farm.
They’re everywhere, and some are
cheap as chips for entry. Kids love animals and at pet farms they can often get
that little bit closer.
11. Build a fort
Indoors or outdoors depending on
the weather. The time taken to create the masterpiece is great. The time spent
in it – even better. Cushions, blankets, basically whatever you used as a kid
yourself. The same still applies!
12. Home Baking
My domestic goddess skills are
sorely lacking but even I can stretch to fairy buns and rice krispie cakes –
and the kids love doing it. What’s even better is, if you have older kids like
me, you can defer responsibility for the creations to them. My eldest three
love baking too, and are very happy to lead the charge with their younger
siblings. Everyone gets to break an egg, or stir the mixture, or add the flour.
Each child gets to add the most important icing at the end. A messy one, but an
engaging one and dessert of all colours is the end result!
A slightly more expensive one potentially, but who
doesn’t love the zoo?
14. Get creative
Another rainy day activity. Get
all the kids to draw a picture of themselves or each other and make a collage.
15. Home cinema,
Rent a movie. Draw the curtains.
Get some microwave popcorn and snuggle up on the couch together. Bliss
to the library
I’ve a few bookworms here and few
who are not quite as enthusiastic but everyone loves to go to the library to
choose a new book. A cheaper alternative for the ones who practically devour
books in rapid succession and a great way to encourage those who need a little
more persuasion. Even those who can’t yet read, like to choose one for their
bedtime story. It’s also worth checking out the local library for events that
take place there over the summer hols.
17. Give everyone a choice.
Let everyone suggest a
“reasonable” idea of something they’d like to do over the summer. As long as it
doesn’t break bank and is practical and manageable, have an individual child’s
suggestion day. If everyone has their turn, there’s less risk of complaints and
resistance from the other children.
18. Bring a friend along.
The same activity on a different
day, with a friend this time – effectively means it’s a different activity in
your child’s eyes and everything is so much cooler and more fun with a friend.
That goes for adults too. Consider teaming up with a kindred spirit and hit the
park, playground or beach.
19. A water fight.
Fill the water guns. Stock up on
water balloons, and take your position. Everyone loves water fights and even
more if they have the opportunity to soak their parents too. So join in the
fun, not because you’re an overgrown child of course –but because you’re trying
to keep then kids happy ;-)
20. Board game marathon
Another rainy day activity –
though they can be taken outside if the sun shines too. Get out the board games
and set up the teams and let the battle commence!