Splashing in the paddling pool, dangling off the climbing frame, creating masterpieces in poster paint and camping in the garden… Those are some of my childhood memories of summer. Six long weeks of full-time fun; I’m sure it wasn’t entirely rose-tinted, but I’m pretty sure I had a great time a lot of the time.
And now I’m all grown up (boo) with a daughter of my own (yeay!). I have the luxury of working from home and getting to spend the duration of the summer holidays with my girl, C. It’s hard work, don’t get me wrong – juggling a home-based job with an active three-year-old and no childcare is certainly a challenge (as I’m sure many of you will understand), but I know I’m privileged to get to spend the time with little C. She’ll start big school in a year, and it’s weighing heavy on my mind that the lazy, hazy days of the summer hols will soon be the longest amount of time we get to spend together all year, so I need to make the most of them.
Holidays can be an expensive time, whether it’s forking out for days out, coughing up for the increased costs of a holiday away or paying for those little treats when you pop to the shops.
No matter where you live, there are endless amounts of free stuff you can get out and do. From creating science experiments using ingredients in your kitchen cupboards to enjoying a teddy bears’ picnic in your local park or spending a day at a free museum, there’s probably more available than you expect, right on your doorstep. Check out your local library, Children’s Centre (if you’ve still got one!) or contact your local council or leisure centre to find out if there’s anything going on near you for free. We recently discovered that a local council offers free swimming sessions every week under the Leeds Let’s Get Active programme, so we’re going to as many of those as we can for a splash about – why not see if something similar is happening where you are?
C and I can have hours of fun with some glue and torn-up magazines (only if I can drop my impatient perfectionist streak!), and there are so many options for creative fun that don’t need to cost a lot. Making cloud dough, mixing up sidewalk chalk paint, creating a holiday diary, building an epic marble run using the contents of your plastic recycling box, whipping up some funky fairy cakes or even a fruity smoothie (which you can then freeze in lolly moulds), building a puppet show stage out of a giant cardboard box…
Not only will you have a good time together, your little ones will also learn at the same time! And there are plenty of activities that smalls of any size can enjoy independently while you get on with stuff that needs doing. Hit Pinterest to see what you can find, and go and have some fun!
Summer is the time to get outdoors – bug hunts, crabbing, nature walks… But the weather isn’t always kind, and sometimes you just want to have a day at home anyway. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sitting your kids in front of the telly for a few DVDs (especially if it means you can tackle the laundry pile or online shop in peace!) but it’s even more fun if you make it an event – popcorn, closed curtains and even homemade tickets and money (there are loads of printables online) all add to the enjoyment. There are so many screen-free options too – making dens with sheets and blankets, enjoying story time, threading your hall and staircase with coloured wool for a spot of spy training (possibly the best fun ever!), doing some baking, letting your hair down with a living room disco, or simply playing hide and seek. Don’t let the weather stop you!
As lovely as it’d be to have all the time in the world to think up and create a huge range of stimulating and worthwhile activities for our offspring, we are only human and there are only 24 hours in each day. Last summer I made a colourful list of anti-boredom activities C and I could enjoy over the hols. I ended up leaving the list on display in the kitchen, so I could keep referring to it for ideas over the course of the year, and because barely anything got ticked off – we got busy immersing ourselves in such a wide range of stuff, plus I was still fitting in a few hours of work every day. Those summer hols do have a tendency to fly by!
Investing a bit of cash in things you know will suit your child’s skill level and interests (as well as keep them occupied) is a great way to take the pressure off. A small spend on a new puzzle, some new action figures or a new activity book or crafty kit will reap rewards by keeping your kids busy.
I love the Alphadoodle pads by Becka Griffin Illustration. I’ll be adapting the rules of Becka’s game slightly with C to help her literacy this summer, as she loves drawing and sounding out letters. And, since she adores girlie stuff and jewellery, I’ve bagged a button bracelet kit from Make It Friday (who make the loveliest no-sew and simple craft kits) to help with colour matching and fine motor skills. See? I’m all about the learning…
Running my own business means I’m one of those annoying people whose tech is such a part of me that all my jeans and shorts have an iPhone outline worn into the pockets.
I really find it hard to switch off, and I’m not alone – so many of us power down our laptops at night, only to get end up on our phones in bed checking emails and Instagram and seeing what’s trending on Twitter… You get my drift. This summer I’m making a point of switching off, of having one on one time with C (as opposed to me, her and my mobile) and of not checking my Facebook business page or work email so frequently. I’m very aware that being constantly switched on does nothing for my stress levels, and I know that to be a patient, present mum – and therefore make great memories with my girl – I need to power down and refocus.
Relax. Think about what made summer fun when you were little – I’m pretty sure it was most likely spending quality time enjoying simple pleasures with your loved ones. I know that I didn’t need the latest toy, or constant stimulation, or my entire day planned out for me to have a good time. And I’m pretty sure it’s the same for C. And perhaps it’s the same for your kids too. Take time to chill, to sit under a tree and share a story, to have some silly time, or to recount the day’s events at bedtime. Those are the memories great summers are made of.
Holmes-made papercuts © Melissa Holmes
LET ME KNOW!
What are your kids’ favourite things to do in summer? What are your happiest memories of those long days from your childhood? Share your ideas, suggestions and thoughts in the comments!!