Knowing how to keep children amused through the school holidays can sometimes be daunting for parents, especially when things cost so much. Family Lives have come up with some top tips to help take some of the stress out of it, and keep everyone happy without needing to spend a fortune.
Going out and about
During the school holidays, there may be lots going on in your local area that your family can enjoy, often for free. Check the websites of your local council and tourist information centres for local days out, or scan the local papers and community centres to see what's going on in your area. Visit your local library and look for adverts of events. Many libraries hold events such as story time, and arts and crafts days. Libraries are also a great source of activity in themselves, with plenty of books and computers to keep children busy, plus they often have story time for toddlers and parents.
- Check to see if your local council swimming pool offers free or reduced-fee entrance in the school holidays.
- Museums and galleries often have new exhibitions and events running in the summer. Many art galleries put on special events for children and families - this could be just the thing to stimulate your child's artistic streak.
- Check out your local leisure centre - there are plenty of indoor sports and activities they can participate in.
Staying at home
Of course, on some days, you will find yourselves stuck at home, but that doesn't mean anyone has to be bored. You could take the opportunity to spend some time sharing a favourite game or story with your children or, if you want some more inspiration, try some of these activities.
Arrange a movie day - choose a couple of favourite films, get some popcorn and put your feet up with the kids.
- Get cooking - pick a recipe with the kids, go shopping for ingredients and cook something together that you can enjoy eating afterwards. Depending on your child’s age and interest, this could be anything from a simple sponge cake to a mushroom stroganoff! Dig out the puzzles, games and books and give them a go. Some good old-fashioned entertainment can be really fun.
- Have a look in your cupboards and play dress up with your old clothes. Sort through your clothes together and recycle the ones that you never wear and the stuff your little one's grown out of.
- Encourage the kids to put on a play or a magic show. They could even use the dress up clothes and props from around the house. If you have a camera, you can even film it, for great memories.
- Build a den with the kids - if the weather is ok, you could even risk doing this outside! All you need is some boxes or sofa cushions, a few blankets, and a bit of imagination.
- Create a scrapbook together using photos from your family album, or torn from magazines.
The great outdoors (and the garden!)
Sunny days are great for simple activities like picnics and ball games. This can be done as close to home as in the back garden!
- Organise a treasure hunt around your home and garden with clues and treats for the children to find
- Hold your own mini Olympics with games that require little equipment... a sack race with pillowcases, a tug of war with a dressing gown belt! Use your imagination.
- If outside is dry, wrap up and go to the park or a nice walk somewhere quiet with the children with a flask of hot chocolate - sure to go down a treat!
- If you have a tent, you could arrange a camping trip in your garden with the children for one night!
- Kites are great if it is a windy day and they can be bought from bargain shops very cheaply
Making your own fun
Be creative - make things together like greeting cards or use beads to make some jewellery.
- Have an arts and craft day and get some canvas and paints, they can be bought in bargain shops for as little as a pound and use paints or crayons and the kids can hang up their creations in their rooms.
- Make a list of your favourite childhood games - old favourites such as hopscotch, putting on a show or marbles won't cost the earth and your children will enjoy you reminiscing!
- In the evenings get the kids to design a game that you can make the next day - give them ideas to keep it simple such as a paper boat race in the paddling pool or homemade skittles using a tennis ball and empty toilet rolls.
- Have you ever thought about Origami? All you need is paper and instructions which can be found online, will keeps kids amused and they will learn a new skill
Don't try and fill every minute of every day. Encourage your children's imagination and independence - let them play in their rooms or the garden.
If you would like further support and advice, call our helpline on 0808 800 2222 or email us at email@example.com. You can talk to us online via our live chat service, which is open, Monday to Friday between 10.30am and 9pm. You may also find it helps to find out how other parents have coped with this on our online forums.