Need some ideas for keeping the kids busy over the summer break?

Holidays can be a great time to bond with your children and maybe even let your own inner child come out to play. But it can also be a stressful time when kids can misbehave because of boredom. It’s best to put a little bit of advanced planning into the summer holidays and prepare yourself with an arsenal of activities to keep the little ones out of mischief.

Start by planning each week in advance. If the kids know they have things to look forward to it will make for happier more relaxed children.

Also be sure to get the children involved in the planning. They will be less likely to complain about the activities chosen if they have taken part in the decision-making. Have a range of activities to select from: stuff to do at home, in the garden, outdoors, and the odd activity that cost money to do.

Here are 19 ideas that you can chose from.

  1. Make your own games. Get a supply of colored cards, children’s scissors, glue and anything else you may want to make some fun games. Games like Hoopla, Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Snakes and Ladders can all be easily made at home and will keep the children occupied for some time. (Note: You will probably have to help out with smaller children.)
  2. Cooking and baking. Once a week plan a cooking or baking day. Involve the kids in the process from the beginning — let them chose from a selection of recipes that you have ingredients for. If the child can read, get them to read from the recipe book. Step by step, help them to work through the instructions. Try to avoid the temptation of doing it yourself.
  3. Make an assault course. One of my eldest son’s favorite activities was assembling an assault course in the back garden. Old pieces of wood, boxes, buckets, garden chairs — anything that can be jumped over, under or around. Tell the children to time each other around the assault course. The course can be completed on a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or simply by running.
  4. Build a garden patch. Dedicate a small patch in the garden to the kids. Plant flowers, herbs, lettuce — anything that grows quickly and gives them the satisfaction of having produced something. If your kids are small, just give them a spade, put on their old clothes, and let them loose. I read recently that gardeners are the happiest people alive. The explanation was that there is a form of bacteria in the soil that actually makes you happy. No harm giving it a go; we all want happy and relaxed children.
  5. Go camping. Build a tent indoors or outdoors with blankets and sheets. Once the tent is up, give them a torch and a picnic to take with them. I guarantee you won’t see them for hours.
  6. Go on picnics. You don’t have to go far to have a picnic — my children regularly ask for a picnic out the garden. I give them whatever I have in the fridge. You’d be amazed how once it is packed in a plastic container and eaten on a blanket on the grass, how much the atmosphere romanticizes the most boring of sandwiches.
  7. Have a treasure hunt. Make a treasure map with clues to find some treasure you have hidden somewhere in the garden. It doesn’t have to be expensive or big — any little treat will be exciting when it is found outdoors.
  8. Create a Summer Diary. Encourage the little ones to keep a Summer Diary or scrapbook. They can take photos of special days and write about them. It will become a lovely memory book for them in the future — and also keep them busy for hours.
  9. Get jamming. Grab some musical instruments — things like bongos, shakers or tambourines, and get jamming. Get your kids to sing and dance along. (Alternatively, you can stick on some Deep Purple, let your hair down, and dance on the furniture.)
  10. Make a movie. At this moment my two boys (aged 6 and 8) are making a movie using my iPhone and some Star Wars figures. They have decided to create it themselves and will use Windows MovieMaker to edit it afterwards. They get to have creative fun — and I get to finish this article in peace.
  11. Paint. One of the nicest ways to express your creativity is to use paint. Get large sheets of paper and lots of paint. Go mad and use your hands and feet — it’s liberating. To avoid any stress, prepare the area well and cover with plastic or newspaper. Have some water on hand to wash when you are finished.
  12. Get into jewellery making. Go to a bead shop and stock up on beads, wire and clasps, and get busy making your own jewellery. This activity can be done with the smallest of children, just be sure to get appropriate bead sizes for different age groups. The children will be so proud to wear the jewellery that they have made.
  13. Sketching. My sister is an artist and recently brought my two youngest boys and their cousin to a local park to sketch. They all had their own sketch pads and pencils, and they were encouraged to draw what they saw around them. They all had so much fun and want to make it a regular date.
  14. Go swimming. If you are lucky enough to live close to the sea, go swimming when possible. The sea has a calming effect on children and the amount of energy used in the water means that they won’t be quite as active when they get home. If you don’t live close to the sea, go to a swimming pool instead.
  15. Take nature walks. Go on nature walks with a purpose. On the beach, collect shells and stones to later make a shell castle or shell and stone sculptures. In the forest, get kids to seek out different sorts of bugs, plants or trees. Alternatively, give them a map to plot the route you are taking. By giving them control and a plan will ensure they don’t get bored too quickly.
  16. Have a garage sale. Get the kids to clear out their rooms and have a garage sale. You could sell some of your baking products and make lemonade. Pool all the money together and use it to pay for an outing for the whole family.
  17. Visit the library. Use your local library regularly. In most libraries you can get more than books; you can get movies and music. Make a day out of it. Do some reading while you’re there instead of getting some books and heading home. Give your children a love of books — it is one of the best gifts you can give them.
  18. Organize some play dates. Plan some play dates and invite friends over. While they spend time with their friends it may give you the opportunity to get some work done and perhaps even connect with other parents.Plus…the invite may be returned some day.
  19. Have a “Chill Day”. With all that activity planned, kids will also need some down time. Make sure you plan some days where you just chill, watch some movies, read some books, and take it easy.

(Photo credit: Group of Happy Kids Silhouette via Shutterstock)

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