Lots of people think that spending money is the main way to spend family time together. It involves paying to keep the kids entertained in whatever form and while that’s fun – you can’t always do it – also these places are often jammed because everyone else had the same idea. It all comes down to habits. Habits by parents can bring a whole new world to kids of all ages. With a little thought and time – you can invent a whole new world for eagerly expanding minds.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, costly or even chaotic. Simple activities work best.
Kids love being outside- no matter what the weather. The worse the weather is – sure the more prepared as parents you need to be, but get the kids involved. Ask them what do they need for a windy, wet day and let them gather the stuff – that’s an activity in itself!! Kids as young as 4-5 years old can do this and they can develop their own systems – making it easier for you next time!
Get geared up and get outside! Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing….Bring changes of clothes if it’s gonna be a long journey home, have a place in the car for mucky items, a flask of hot tea for cold bodies and snacks to stop the munchies! Pack the PJS – that way you can change them before the drive home and they’re now ready for bed – making it easier for the car to bed transfer at the other end!
Outdoor activities for free;
Walking- whether it’s on the coast – rock pooling for hours, a hike up a hill or an ramble in the forest – make walking into an adventure. Break it up, rather than the day being destination aimed and they’ll cover the same ground burning off all that energy. Jump in the puddles with them – let them see your kid side! Looking for crabs under rocks, eye spy in the forest or getting to the next rock on the hill- each an achievement- don’t worry about “getting there” & all the stress disappears rather than fighting with them because they aren’t in the mood to walk etc! Bring the dog. If it’s a circular walk and you’re on your way back with tired bodies rest, eat and play games along the way to further break it up. Invent new games too use your imagination- use theirs too- tap into their world.
Do some research and custom build a list you know your kids are interested in. You can use the same list in different places. Different lists in the same place. Use them alone or in conjunction with clues in a treasure hunt style or with a map in orienteering style.
Go cycling – as a family. Having kids with you slows you down and forces you to look at areas you probably know very well, in a new way. Allow this to unfold & don’t put your time limits on little people. It’s often our expectations of where “we should be ” that puts the stress into situations without us realising it.
Get to know your green spaces that are close to your house. Parks, beaches, hills, forests. Country houses usually have lovely grounds to walk in. Where can you see wildlife? Get kids involved in nature and they find their own path and entertainment. The options are endless once you get them going and you’ll get new ideas once you’re out and about.
On a sunny day in the back garden squeals of delight will ensue when the garden hose is in use- have a water fight, water balloons, run through the sprinklers.
Get the kids gardening – they are curious about nature – get them planting!
Ok so it’s just that kind of a day where you’re just not leaving the house for whatever reason. Here are some ideas to keep kids entertained.
Colouring . You draw they colour. They draw you colour. You don’t have to be a good artist, there’s fun in the process! Draw or paint individually or as a group.
E.g. One person starts to draw and tells a story, the next person continues the drawing and the story and then the next person continues…..and on and on you go! It’s great fun and the imagination really is allowed to wander and create. Allow them to see being perfect doesn’t stop you … or them!!!
Playing cards. All those board games…. Pictionary. Guessing games. An indoor treasure hunt. Hide and seek. Dress up – themed or not! Baking or cooking – kids love being in the kitchen! Even if you’re not a cook – assembling a salad can be a game! Story telling – each person can tell one they know or invent or break it up – each person gets one line each – who knows where the story will go then? Or get the kids all cosy in the evening time and read to them. I haven’t even mentioned crafts yet – whether it’s jigsaws, play doh, activity books, stencilling, painting or stuff that involves glue & glitter! It’s amazing that despite all the toys they have how much fun you can have with a simple cardboard box! Have a simple system for clean up that they can get involved in too- so it’s not such a chore for you! Popcorn from scratch & movie time! There’s lots you can do indoors that will burn off some of their energy!
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