Half term can be challenging; you want to encourage the children to get away from the TV and get out of the house, but chances are everything they want to do costs a fortune. We have found that as a family of four a trip to a local cafe can set us back around £40 let alone the steep costs of attraction tickets for a day out! Frankly its money better spent elsewhere, but there are only so many times you can remain enthusiastic about a trip down the local park. We’re hoping that this list will help take a chunk of the stress out of next week and show you some of our parent hacks along the way!
Here are 10 tried and tested ideas that have worked like a charm for our little people. If we could give you one bit of advise it would be GET EXCITED the more you hype up a special job, or a secret task the more that they are going to want to do it, there is an opportunity for adventure in everything.
1. MAKE A FATHERS DAY CARD/ GIFT - Ok Fathers day isn’t until June 16th, but you are going to feel soooo chuffed when it comes round and you have already got it covered. Get out the water colours, old magazines to cut and stick, and a box of pens. Remind them that this is a special card so they need to spend long long time on it. ( you’re welcome) It could also be a good time to stockpile other cards, leave off any writing so that when you forget to buy one for something else you can use these. Grandparents love them. Encourage aspiring Jackson Pollocks outdoors.
2. PICNIC - Picnics can be eaten in the garden while you have a sneaky coffee and check your emails, or could be an entire day trip to somewhere lovely, We recently got the ferry to Mount Edgcumbe. Encourage the children to pack up the blankets and make the sandwiches from food you already have in the house. Sometimes if we have had a busy day and the weather is nice, I will cook tea, pop it in a container and we will whizz to the beach for a couple of hours and have tea there. It makes for sudden excitement and breaks up the routine. Sometimes we take onesies and they fall asleep on the way home which means that you can also escape the dreaded bedtime routine. hehe
3. FASHION DESIGNER - This is great for older kids to do on their own, or one for you to get involved with if you’re feeling energetic, take this as far as you like.
Gather up pre-approved ill-fitting or out of favour clothes and encourage the child to think out of the box. If a skirt is too short, how about adding a frill along the bottom made out of an old T-shirt? Or Tie Dye using vegetable inks.
Make at 140 in the Royal William yard do some great patches for a couple of Pounds.Freya bought one or two last time she was there, part of the fun is sifting through the box and agonising over which one to buy, they are all so cool! Try to agree how many you are buying, or what the budget is before entering the shop to save on dramatic outbursts.
They are SO easy to apply to jackets & hoodies, maybe they won’t argue quite so much about having to bring a jacket next time?
4. BEACH CLEAN - I know, I know, we keep banging on about these! The Plymouth Beach Clean Facebook page has events running all the way through next week. We’ve done a couple, they are free, you can take the dog (check that the beach will allow dogs first), the kids have a mission, Albert dresses as a pirate and calls it treasure hunting, and you are doing something great for the environment. If the weather is nice then stay and paddle, if its not then don’t forget your wellies and a thermos.
Save a few shells and special stones so that when you get home you can make a bowl of soapy water, pop it outside and they can clean and polish the special stones…ooh imagine how lovely and shiny they could be! Our two have a shell and rock collection in pretty boxes this means that they are always on the look out for new stones to add. They may paint some and hide them, and when the collection gets a bit big don’t forget to bring some back to the beach!
5. HOT CHOCOLATES AND A FILM - The ultimate lazy day. Sometimes they just need to entertain themselves for a few hours. Spend some time making a special hot chocolate with sprinkles and a biscuit and sit them down to watch a film that they haven’t seen in a while, we love The Lorax. If the hot choccie is particularly good maybe let them text a photo to a family member.
6. SAVE THE BEES - Pollenize is a great local organisation who want to encourage bees back into the Urban areas of Plymouth. They sell packets of seeds for £2 and these can be bought from Boston Tea Party, The Hutong Cafe, and the Lord High Admiral. This is something that children can take real pride in watering and watching grow. Who will spot the first bee in the garden? Could you keep a tally?
7. CAR BOOT - ok this is an endurance test, but bare with us on this one. This is a tried and tested method of getting your kids to declutter their rooms. All old toys in a basket, they will need to be cleaned up and in working order, then you hit them with the deal breaker…. THEY CAN KEEP THE MONEY. Suddenly they get to play real life shops, they need to spend an afternoon making labels, sticking on prices, planning how to display their toys, and of course what they will do with the money. Sorry about the early start for the car boot though. Once shoppers find out that the children are keeping the money for a special treat they tend to be a little more generous.
8. JUNK ROBOTS - Alberts favourite thing to do at the moment is to make robots out of the recycling. If you want to spend a whole day on it then you could aways paint them. But its free and keeps them busy.
9. SPECIAL BATH - This is one of the best parent hacks ever, we learnt this from fellow blogger Louise Pentland from a Sprinkle of Glitter. At the end of a long day, when all you need is a break then its time to pull this one out of the bag. Special baths can be used to bring bedtimes forward an hour or so, or could also be done in the middle of the day. There is some forward planning required, you need to make a little kit: Maybe a pretty bath bomb, some bath crayons, bubbles, empty pots, anything could do, but make sure that its not something that they have often to maintain the excitement. Obviously don’t leave little ones unattended in the bath!
10. PERSONAL SHOPPER - Is it just me or do your children suddenly become completely engrossed in play when you mention popping up to the shops? I would start talking about visiting the shops at breakfast time, and explain that you are so glad that they are here to help you today. You will need help writing the shopping list, and finding all of the items in the shop. Make it a challenge, you need to have all the items ready and back home by 1pm lets say; So we will pick out clothes for the shop, write the shopping list, how long will it take us to walk there? Why not time your walk so you know what time you need to leave the shop, and start walking home? You get the idea! Bribes work… Maybe pick a special pudding, or chose a favourite for dinner.
You can tailor this to the age of the child, like all of the things on the list really. Older children can deal with money, and writing the shopping list, younger ones can draw pictures of fruit and vegetables that they need to find. Its a basic one, but if it gets you where you need to be then its got to be worth a go.
I hope some of these little ideas make the holidays a little more manageable, they are very simple but sometimes those are the best ideas! Have a great half term everyone, and don't forget to tag @wearealfafamily in your photos, we cant wait to see what you all get up to.