Surviving the Summer Holidays
If you don’t have young children this post is not for you. Please, continue - enjoy your Aperol Spritz surrounded by fun people wearing on trend clothes – revel in your Ibiza hangovers – plan your summer escapades unencumbered by a collection of trunkies.
If you even know what a trunkie is then this post may be for you.
I always start out with such good intentions in the summer holidays. Whilst the vast majority of the parents around me have booked holidays, summer camps and very sensibly have their summer scheduled down to the day, I always start out with an overly confident ‘winging’ it approach.
This is obviously not a great idea as I have 2 children under 6 and a business to run, but the bohemian in me (or what’s left of it) luxuriates in the image of idle summer days swanning around in cornfields sipping ginger beer with my trusty friends. The facts that I live in London, have to work, don’t like ginger beer and all my friends are on holiday don’t seem to register.
Some days in summer are great. Fantastic. Memorable. These are usually based outdoors against a backdrop of blue skies and involve soggy sandwiches and sticky little hands. I will remember all of those moments forever. This is not a post about surviving those perfect days.
This is also not a post for those parents who have a bundle of wonderful ways of entertaining their children. This post is for those of us who panic a little when the weather is non-compliant. On such days I have 2 tetchy energetic little boys desperate for entertainment and this year, for the first time, I’m prepared for it. So I have put forward some ideas you can keep in your back pocket for such days. Any of these suggestions can be done by you, your nanny, their granny or gramps – whoever it is trapped indoors with bored kids.
Write a book (Free)
I know, I know. Sounds awful but bear with me. Write a book with the kids. It can be nonsensical and if you let them lead it probably will be – but I would urge you to let them lead. Let the story run away with them. Let them draw silly or amazing pictures. But most importantly take them seriously and hear their voice.
I am planning on doing this with my 6 year old – he has already come up with an awesome title and lots of ideas. We have agreed that for at least 1 hour a day, wherever we are, we will work on it together until the magnus opus is complete. We have a stack of paper and pencils at the ready. When it is finished I will bind it or somehow have it printed up to be kept. It will almost certainly be dragged out for all to see at his 18th birthday and I will pretend the tears are of laughter and not desperate nostalgia for the early years.
Bring out the board games (Under £25)
In a previous post I suggested my other half had an interest in board games. In reality he is obsessed and secretly buys board games and smuggles them into the house hoping I won’t notice. I’m not talking about Monopoly and the kind you have heard of – I’m talking about really obscure ones he has discovered on Boardgamegeek.com or from watching YouTube videos when I’ve gone to bed.
His obsession however has introduced our family to some wonderful games that the kids love. Even our 4 year old can follow most of them. There are always tears from the non-winners. The 6 year old throws the word loser around a LOT but we try to limit the negativity until the kids have gone to bed and we crack open the big boy games (not ‘adult’ – not like THAT) with like minded friends.
Here are a few we have played as a family and really enjoyed – again be prepared for frustrated tears but learning to lose is something we could all work on and mine always want to play again soon after so it can’t have been that bad. Google search all of them for the cheapest prices, I have found Amazon not to be the cheapest for the more obscure board games. All of the below can be bought (today) for less than £25 on various websites.
Survive: Escape from Atlantis. This is marketed as 8yrs+ but we play with our kids and they largely follow it. My boys seem to be particularly fond of sharks and sea monsters gobbling up the competition. It’s also pretty fun for grown-ups so a good one for the games shelf.
Diamant. Again, marketed at 8yrs+ but we have played well as a family and more often than not the risk averse 4 year old wins. This is a risk-your-luck game of chance and not so big it can’t be squeezed in a suitcase (or trunkie…).
Catan: Junior. 6yrs+. This is one we haven’t yet played and I would imagine may be a little advanced for our 4 year old. I have kept this in reserve for the summer hols as the grown up version is one of my favourites. However it comes highly recommended from some friends of ours with slightly older kids.
Pick a pepper (Under £20)
Finally, I took the boys to a pick your own farm last week (again, Google to find your nearest) and it was such a roaring success we will be doing it again, several times, in the holidays. As an activity it ticks so many boxes, they get to run around, it is relatively cheap and they learn about where food comes from. It may also encourage those slightly picky eaters to expand their repertoire – I got mine to eat hitherto rejected veggie risotto for the first time as they were excited to eat all the courgettes, broad beans and beetroot they had picked with their little hands.
Next time we go there will be a whole new range of food for them to pick including corn, blackberries and tomatoes which also teaches them about the seasonality of food. Hopefully I will be better this time at reducing the amount of strawberries they snaffle before we get to checkout! Obviously it’s best if it’s not raining when you go but going on an overcast day will probably mean it is less busy.
So, this is us this summer. You may know all of this already but just in case you don't hope at least some of it has been some help.
Wish me luck. If you have any ideas for rainy days please share - these are pretty much ALL of my ideas - they may not stretch to 6 weeks... If it all gets too much, sit down with a 'Quiet Moment' box, make a brew, light a candle, eat some chocolate and leave good old Uncle CBeebies in charge for a bit.