How do you keep your children active and entertained during summer?
Is the question. This is a good question. See, up until now we didn’t really have a summer as such. H was at nursery for the majority of the year, and I had Wednesdays off work. That was all, nothing more. So our summer was getting out of the house, going to soft play, going to the library and finishing off with a swimming lesson, for one day a week.
There were occasional playdates, but most of our summer activities were at the weekends. A Summer break? Pah. We had winter breaks or spring ones; out of term time so it’s cheaper. That was until H started school.
All of a sudden a whole new world has opened up. “What, I don’t go to school for TWO WEEKS?!” H asked, incredulous as Christmas approached. It’s a fair question, she spent the majority of her young life at nursery, once with just one week off in the year – we didn’t want to take her out and keep paying for the privilege of her not being there – you don’t get holiday time at a private nursery.
When I asked her to tell one of her friends about the best things school has, her only reply was “six WHOLE weeks off in the summer!!” and the biggest smile on her face.
With us both working five days a week it isn’t six weeks off. So how do we keep H active and entertained during the summer?
She will be going to Holiday Club for some of the time, and for the remainder we’re leaving the country to visit the in-laws. Who live in Australia. Where it is winter. I realise this sounds picky, but what do you do in Australia in the winter anyway? Hopefully not hibernate and watch lots of tv – there’s only so much of The Wiggles I can take this time…!
So instead, I’ll base it on this last week – Summer Half Term. What have we done? Tuesday, Shaun and H went to the cinema to watch the Postman Pat movie. She enjoyed it a lot too. So that’s entertainment sorted, and as Tuesday had pretty rubbish weather we’ll let them off. We also saw the Tinkerbell movie on Saturday morning and followed it with a viewing of Annie at home later on (and she’s still singing the songs).
The weather today was much better. She spent about three hours in the park with Holiday Club playing in the playground. I picked her up and we headed straight back to the park, meeting with one of her schoolmates where they had a brilliant play. In fact, the two of them ran off and I had my first proper ‘mustn’t be a helicopter parent, must let them run free’ moment where I knew I could trust her, under strict instructions that if she was going somewhere I couldn’t see her, to let me know.
That was until I spotted her queueing for the Zipwire. She’s a bit too small for it. But she managed half way on her own! I just worried she’d fall off, and she did, crying in frustration but not hurting herself. In the end we made do with her and her friend shouting up the circular hollowed out slide “ARE YOU THERE YET?” as the other child slid down, on repeat for 30 minutes or so.
So yes, holiday club might be essential for the working family but there’s still time for play after work (and let’s face it, only Jack Bauer seems to get around London quickly at the moment). When the weather has been bad we’ve got decent enough waterproofs. When the weather has been good, we’ve got water bottles. When we’re feeling tired, the cinema is close by. When we’re feeling full of energy a trip to Polesden Lacey and a couple of trails to follow come in handy. When we just want to sit and read we’ve plenty of books and plenty of things to learn.
A trip to the Science Museum with Holiday Club and a new world opened up on Wednesday, when H could read the signs instead of having them read to her. A whole new world has opened up over the last year since she learned to read, places to revisit and know that it’ll be different to her this time with her knowledge of words.
As a parent I wish I was doing those trips, but as a working parent I know it isn’t possible.
When she wants to have neighbour-envy she stands in our bedroom window and looks at the neighbours trampoline. We’re going to sell her old slide (she’s too big for it now) and get a trampoline at some point, however couldn’t resist entering this competition with Activity Toys Direct to try to win one. Maybe the neighbours will stand at their bedroom windows with envy, or maybe the kids will have a bounce off! The other bonus with a trampoline is with us renting, it doesn’t involve any drilling into walls or anything, it’s something which can be packed away when the weather is bad and brought out when the weather is good. Heck, weight-wise, even I could use it.