If you need a break from “I’m bored” syndrome with your kids, here are some ideas to keep them happy these holidays without breaking the household budget. Excursion trips:
1.Beach – nothing better on a warm summer’s day than to pack up the bucket, spade and sunscreen and head to the beach. My family lives on the Sunshine Coast, and in summer we get up super early and head to Noosa beach to have a swim before the crowds get there. Easier for parking, and not too hot, and more room for us swimming in natures biggest fish tank! Get the kids to try and catch the fish with their hands (makes for some really funny squeals of delight). Add a frisbee or kite for extra fun.
2. Local parks – go exploring beyond your local area and check out parks you wouldn’t normally go to. It’s fun for kids to explore new areas, and you might find a great new location for next year’s birthday party!
3. Botanical Gardens – I loved visiting these as a kid and still do. All the amazing plants and usually heaps of room for the kids to play. Pack a picnic lunch (get the kids to help), and don’t forget to take a few slices of bread to feed the ducks. This is a great way to get children to appreciate the colours, sizes and textures of different plants and stimulates appreciation for the environment.
4. Museums and Art Galleries usually have free and fun school holiday activities for kids, they’re cool, and you get to bring home their creation to enjoy.
5. Visit the local public pool – cheap to get in, and the coolest way to splash away the time when you’re not lucky enough to have a pool of your own. Most public pools are Council run – so check your local Council website for details and opening hours. Remember to always supervise children when swimming, and do use sunscreen.
6. Skate parks – free and a lot of fun. My kids are just getting to the age where they’re after more of a challenge for their scooters and skateboards (my kids now want a Rip Stick for Christmas). Many skate parks are shaded these days, and with young kids you’re probably better off heading in early while the weather is cooler outside. Don’t forget to pad up and wear a helmet and sunscreen, and always supervise younger children.
7. Movies – cost efficient and nice cool place to escape the heat. There are more and more 3D kids movies coming out which are fantastic – more expensive, and I was a skeptic at first, but you get these cool “real” 3D glasses with the price of admission and the kids love wearing them afterwards. You can book online to avoid the queues – great if you’re struggling with strollers.
8. Library – get back into reading with your kids. We love reading in our house and joining a library is free. I read a page to my boys and each of them read a page in turn. Some libraries have story reading sessions, so check with your local Council.
9. Bus or Train Trips – a cheap way to have fun with the kids and teach them about public transport. If you’re like me and the public transport system is not all that good for daily use, then school holidays can be a great time to get out and explore. The trip itself is just so exciting for littlies, and if you’re in a city which has ferries or Citycats – even better! If you’re on the open water, remember tight fitting hats or ones with drawstrings to ensure they’re secure if the wind picks up.
10. Bike riding – if you have the time why not go a little further afield and go to a park with bike paths all the way through? Take a picnic lunch, plenty of drinks, and head off. Littlies love the independence and explorative nature of going on a picnic adventure under their own steam.
Around the house – play for indoors and out:
1. Water fight on the trampoline (safe if it’s a Springfree™ Trampoline, not safe on the others) – water pistols, water balloons, a sprinkler or just the good old garden hose! Declare war and get the kids drenched! Just make sure you don’t break any water restrictions and remember the sunscreen!
2. Puzzles – remember when we used to play puzzles (or am I showing my age). My boys love puzzles, and you can get some awesome puzzles for kids of all ages (I love the Amazen puzzle shop – great for stocking stuffers).
3. Card games – just like puzzles only group action. You don’t need specific cards either – just a regular set is good to play a bunch of games from Snap, Old Maid, Go Fish or why not teach them tougher games like Canasta or Bridge.
4. Tasks around the house – if your kids are around the age where they like helping, then this is a great time to do some spring cleaning and get them involved. My kids and I do spring cleaning over the summer holidays. I get them to sort through their old clothes to see what fits, and we do a fashion show trying on different things – anything too small we pack up for Goodwill charities. The same goes for their toys – anything good I get them to help me write an Ebay ad, and they get to keep the money from anything sold to put towards new toys. Anything not worth selling (but still of use, and in tact) goes to charity. The kids love giving things to people who are more needy than they are, it helps them appreciate just how lucky they really are.
5. “have tea” with your neighbours. If you live in a neighbourhood where there are other kids around the same age, then why not get to know them better. No doubt they’re in the same situation – trying to find things for their kids to do – why not take turns at each others places, but make it a bit more fun. Little girls particularly love playing ladies, they can even invite Barbie and the teddies! Hit the dress up box for hats, scarves and pearls first!
6. Chalk art – fantastic fun to be had on your Springfree™ Trampoline (just hose it off afterwards) or even on the driveway. Sidewalk chalk costs about $7 from most toy stores or department stores, and you can enjoy their artwork until the next rain (or get them to help with a scrubbing brush and bucket of water).
7. Plant a vegetable or herb garden – this is a fantastic way to teach young kids about gardening and nurturing. You don’t need a lot of room – even a plastic pot on the kitchen windowsill is enough to start a herb garden and the little seedlings are very cheap from nurseries. If you have more than one child – allocate a herb or veggie to each of them and make them responsible for their care. Kids will love using the herbs or veges in cooking, particularly if they get to pick and cut them up.
8. Make a worm farm – if you’re a gardener like me then you’ll know that no fertilizer works as well on your garden as worm tea. Worm farms are relatively cheap to set up, they eat all your veggie scraps, and give the best fertilizer on earth for your garden. The gooey squirmy worms appeal to kids of all ages and it’s great for them to see the scraps being eaten out and converted by the worms into fertilizer. Get the kids to feed the worms, then water the garden with diluted worm tea – do make sure you dilute 10 to 1 ratio of water to worm tea as it’s pretty potent stuff!
With 7 weeks on this summer’s holiday schedule, I’m sure we’re going to run out of fun things to do. If you have your own ideas and want to share, please drop us a post!
All the best for keeping the kids cool and entertained this festive season, and I hope Santa is kind to your little ones.