Alas, the heatwave has ended, and the summer holidays stretch yawningly ahead, filled at best with a couple of weeks in the sun somewhere, and at worse with 12 cold and rainy hours a day to fill entertaining irritable small people when nobody’s around because they’re all on holiday.
Such are the delights of the British summer holiday.
But fear not. It is possible to entertain your children with fun, creative and affordable things to do that will make the hours whizz by, and don’t involve telly.
If all else fails, get your wet weather gear on and go for a walk. There’s no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing, right?
We’ve compiled our top 10:
Make some playdough
There are multiple recipes out there, but we’ve found the easiest one (which won’t involve a trip to the shops) goes thus: take 4 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of salt, 2 tbsp of oil, 1 cup of water and some food colouring, and mix it all together. Surprisingly fun to make, and should provide many happy minutes of silence, particularly if you add food cutters and decorative items (glitter, buttons) into the mix.
Take a bath
Yes, we know they do that every day at 6pm, but shake things up a little. Think of how difficult it is to get your children out when it’s bedtime. Now translate that happy splashing to an empty morning that needs filling.
Have a picnic lunch
Inside, in a den. Hours spent creating the den: think old sheets over a dining table, or if you’re feeling really creative, a cardboard-box castle; more time making an enjoyable picnic lunch, then the pleasure of eating it.
Put them to work
Toddlers and small children love to help: get them to sort the laundry into colour piles, sweep the kitchen floor and polish the windows. Who cares if you have to do it all over again afterwards?
Make your own zoo
Ok, so this one does require a bit of investment, but it’s worth it, we promise. Tracey Radford’s enchanting new book, Make Your Own Zoo (£12.99; rylandpeters.com), comes out on August 13, and is a brilliant way of reducing the size of your recycling bin – it’s got 35 projects, from crafting lions from loo rolls to penguins from egg cartons. A guaranteed time-filler.
Hide some printed or drawn pictures/numbers/words around the house, then get the children to find them and say what’s on the piece of paper. Great for speech, number and colour recognition.
Have a dance party
Dim the lights, dust off that glitter ball and pump up the volume. My children LOVE to dance. And so do I. Guaranteed to chase away any rainy-day blues.
Yes, it will be messy. Yes, the results may be unpalatable. But everyone will have a good time – and the smell of chocolatey things wafting through the house is always a winner.
Build an indoor obstacle course
Hop along the hall, throw beanbags in a bucket, pick up pasta with your teeth. Throw in an award ceremony and a medal for the winner and youv’e got a whole day (or at least a morning)’s entertainment.
Yes, so it doesn’t strictly escape the “no telly” category, but is there anything more joyful than snuggling up with a chubby three-year-old in front of a Disney classic, accompanied by some popcorn?
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