This summer the UK weather is fluctuating … a lot! From extreme heat to rain, and now cooler days. Let’s see what happens next week! I had forgotten how hot it can get in the UK, and as everyone keeps saying, no, there are no air cons here! With that said, it’s also a LOOOONG holiday too and I for one, just don’t want to have to spend money every single day on keeping the kids busy over the summer holidays.
I wrote a post over a year ago based on keeping kids cool in the summer. This was written whilst I still lived in South Africa and was focused on keeping kids cool and out of the sun but also occupied at home during the long December holidays – the South African equivalent of the 6 or 7 weeks of
hell UK summer holidays. Now that we are based in the UK, I thought it would be a good idea to do a new post along a similar theme which is ideas on keeping the kids busy over the summer, no matter the weather, whilst also trying to keep a grip on your budget! Let’s face it, I’m not Rockefeller, I’m the other fella. No, I’m not original either! The point is, budgeting is important!
Water Play & Swimming!Whilst it would be great to have a pool in the back yard for the kids to spend all summer playing in, it’s just not practical or a way of life in the UK. But that doesn’t meant they can’t play with water. If you don’t want to splash out on a blow up pool, or if your garden isn’t really conducive to a splash pool, then you need to get creative. All you need to do is fill a bucket of water, or one of those under drawer plastic tubs, and put a few plastic cups and water proof toys in it, and let them play.
For a bit of a fun twist you can add some bubble bath (or dishwashing liquid) to add a different dimension to it. Kids have a short-term memory sometimes so it’s easy to turn to a ‘normal’ activity into something a bit more fun by changing it up slightly every now and then. Alternatively you could go to your local swimming pool. Not only do they have free swim times, but many of them have a ‘fun zone’ time when they have loads of inflatables, and water fun. It’s quite epic actually. In addition to swimming for people who can swim already, they offer assessments to see what level you or your child’s capability is, and then offer lessons to help progress from whatever stage you are at. This all does come at a cost, but to me, swimming is a life skill, not just for fun. At the end of the day, water play is one of my best tips for keeping the kids busy over the summer holidays.
Activity Mat and Play Zone!
You can use an old table-cloth, or blanket, or anything like that really to create a play area that you can move to different locations. In my previous post I suggested setting it up in a corner of the house such as the dining room, but basically kids have a short-term memory, or maybe it’s a short attention span. Either way, by simply changing the location of a normal activity can get them going again, reinvigorated even. My girls get bored with playing in their room quite often, and I get anxious when they turn my living room into a playroom. So I took the tablecloth, and put it in the garden in the shade, and that was their new ‘colouring in zone’.
This works just as well as a reading zone, dolly dress up zone, and even Lego zone – you just have to be careful to tidy up the legos carefully so as not to leave any tiny pieces in the grass if you set up outside.
The Local LibraryWe joined our local library two weeks ago. There were a couple of reasons for doing this:
- I am trying to find ways of integrating into the local village community
- to get the girls to enjoy reading.
- For the girls to catch up on their reading skills.
- I almost had to march all three girls into the library on the first day to sign us up. We were welcomed with open arms. The lady on duty for the kids section was welcoming and straight away she invited the girls to sign up to the Kids Summer Reading Challenge, and my bonus daughter for the Young Person’s Reading Challenge.
- It was so well organised and had so many activities that the younger two girls are hooked! The elder one might take some extra convincing. Persistence is key!
- I have so much love for this topic that I might write a whole blog post about it at the end of the summer. So get yourself down to the local library. You will discover more than you thought you would. It’s not just books they offer either. It is a completely FREE and renewable resource for keeping kids busy over the summer holidays, and beyond.
Kids In The KitchenNow I will confess, I am a bit of a control freak! That said, desperate times call for desperate measures, and after three weeks keeping the kids busy over the summer holidays, it becomes a challenge. One thing most kids love is baking, or any food preparation really. Baking from scratch, the old-fashioned way, is a lot of fun for kids.
Yes, there will be flour everywhere! Someone will definitely spill the 100s & 1000s … everywhere! Yes, there will be a fight over who gets to lick the bowl. And yes, someone will cry. In my case it’s probably me! Why? Because I’m the one left to clean up the flour and sprinkles and because I didn’t get to lick the bowl. But hey, I’m an adult. I have to suck it up … take one for the team … be a grown up. Whatever … blah blah blah!
The kids love it.It doesn’t have to be baking either. It can be something as simple as ripping the peppers up. Or even making them spread their own soft cheese on the cheese biscuits. It doesn’t even have to be expensive either. Last week I picked up one of the ‘decorate your own cookies’ kits from the local Co-Op. £2.50 for five cookies with three different coloured icing. It kept the three girls busy for about 20 minutes! Read: 20 minutes of sanity! And a weird thing … the hashtag #cookiedecorating has some super
Top Tip: Kids also love doing the washing up. Obviously you need to remove all the breakables such as plates, and bowls and wine glasses. Basically just give them plastic and they will love to ‘help’ you do the washing up. And yes, you will need to mop the floor afterwards, change them into dry clothes, and rewash everything, but they do really love it.
So there you go. Those are my top tips for keeping the kids busy over the summer holidays, no matter the weather.
I’ve done a few other posts along the same lines:Keeping Them Busy This Easter
Let me know how you get on! I’d love to know if you have any tips about keeping the kids busy over the summer holidays. If all else fails …