It’s half term next week. If you don’t have children that means that you’ll be tripping over small people every time you go out. If you do have children, the same applies – except you’ll also be in charge of keeping them amused and happy for a week.
A half term holiday is a great chance for children to relax and kick back. But, there’s only so much relaxing and ‘unstructured time’ you can have. A bit of planning and herding is always required to keep everyone happy in this house.
Here are some tips for keeping everyone sane next week:
Plan one or two big outings. The seaside, a castle or a trip to Legoland. It’s great to have a treat. But don’t overdo it. You don’t have to do something extraordinary everyday. You’ll be exhausted and bankrupt by the end of the week.
Find local activities to join in with. Museums, galleries, cathedrals and parks all usually organise some sort of holiday activities. Search out these events – they’ll give a bit of structure to your day and take the creative pressure off you for a while. I like to sign my boys up to craft activities at our local museum (which costs a few pounds and is fantastic value) and Ely Cathedral often has a free drop in session with things for children to do. The National Trust also offer fun activities for kids. I generally find out about these events through Facebook (the local paper tends only to tell you about things after they’ve happened). Make sure you’re following local museums and galleries for regular updates.
Plant some seeds. A cheap and cheerful activity that will keep everyone happy for a couple of hours. Go and buy the seeds and compost, choose some little pots. Then plant them. It really is as simple as putting a bit of soil in a pot, poking in your seed (perfect for little fingers), and watering it. If you keep them indoors, they’ll soon start growing. I recommend peas or beans – they’re big (you can’t accidentally drop a whole packet and lose them) and start growing really quickly.
Use public transport. A trip on a bus or a train is always popular with my boys. It doesn’t have to be a special steam train, any old train or bus will do. We don’t do it that often (most things are within walking distance, or we use the car) so it’s a bit exciting and different – especially if we get a seat on the top of a bus.
Meet up with friends. Ok, this is a bit of an obvious one, but worth including anyway. I like to organise a couple of meet-ups with friends in the park or at our house. It’s nice to get the children altogether during the day, rather than the rush after school.
Always have a few simple things up your sleeve. The ingredients for fairy cakes, a new DVD, some printable colouring sheets, some new play dough… you’ll be glad you remembered these.
Remember that it’s OK for your children to be bored sometimes. It’s easy to think you’re only a good parent if you plan and organise every minute of your child’s time. Feeling bored isn’t anything to be afraid of, and I think it’s great to encourage your children to think for themselves and find their own amusement. Sometimes the best games are born out of a sense of boredom. Obviously you want them to have a nice holiday, but remember to give them space to encourage a bit of self-sufficiency. Being a good parent doesn’t have to be all about being an all-singing-all-dancing children’s entertainer from dawn till dusk.
What are your half-term survival tips?