The Easy Way to Keep Your Kids Happy All Summer Long

So it's nearly time for the school holidays and 6 weeks of having the kids at home all day every day.  That means they'll need entertaining, at least some of the time, so just what can you do all day every day?  Read on for 8 simple but fun ways to keep your kids busy and happy this summer.

I've seen lots of articles recently about how to 'survive' the holidays which always seems a shame to me, after all you don't get much time with them usually, so why not embrace these few weeks of freedom and togetherness?

1. Be there

Remember, kids value your presence first, so get down on the floor and play, get totally immersed in their imaginary worlds.  Go wild with the water toys in the garden and come indoors soaked, with your face aching because you laughed so much.

Likewise, make some rules about screens now.  TV only after dinner or at lunchtime maybe, or none at all.  And don't even get me started on iPads etc!  Even on rainy days, if you get prepared you can have loads of options to suggest for fun not festering.

2. Forget the expense

Expensive days out are great in their way, but I bet the things you children will remember are far more mundane and cheap!  Ask them what memories they have of last summer and it will probably be walks, bike rides, adventures in the woods and days at the beach.  Plan more of those this summer.

Start thinking about what you can do locally, what woods or forests, lakes or parks, rivers or beaches have you not been to yet?  Ask around to see what friends and acquaintances recommend too.  Take some time to have a family meeting to find out exactly what everyone wants from the summer holidays and plan accordingly.

3. Include down time

So often we look at 6 weeks as being a really long period of time and cram it with uniform buying, dentist appointments, days out, play dates, trips to visit friends and relatives, weekends away and holidays.  Take a step back and think how that might feel as a child.  Rushed, busy, not in control, pretty much like being at school really!

Put free time into your calendar, a couple of days a week or a 'day on, day off' approach.  It doesn't mean you won't do anything on the days off and end up sitting around bored.  It simply means you'll do what you want.  Block out days on your kitchen calendar or print out blank calendar sheets for July and August and start filling in the non-negotiables then the free time or 'days off' first before everything else goes in.

4. Create summer traditions

Start some new summer holiday traditions.  You could research and cook the food of another country once a week.  Make menus and decorate according to the country's traditions too.  Or have outdoor movie nights.  Just set up a laptop and projector and show some of their favourite films.

5. Have some ideas up your sleeve

However much you plan, and however many things there are to do, there may well be some 'I'm bored' moments.  Having a good supply of craft supplies and a full recycling box will usually suffice and lead to some wonderful creativity, but it's worth having a few ideas up your sleeve.

Try teaching the kids some of the games you used to play like hopscotch or skipping games or do some crafts like making masks or fans from paper plates with lolly stick handles.  You could even set up and arts and crafts station for the duration of the holidays so the kids can get stuck in.

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