Here we go again! Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out” is blaring on the spotify list and parents are looking at 2 months to trying to keep the kids entertained. With covid playing havoc for camps and spaces limited and the obvious cost implications, creativity is required to avoid a summer long moan of “I’m bored!”. Phones, tablets, gaming and Netflix will be the go-to method to keep children occupied much of the time but screen time should be at least be tried to be limited for positive health of body and mind. It is, of course, completely understandable that the normal rules and restrictions for screen-time might have gone out the window over the past year. These are extraordinary circumstances, to say the least.
But regardless, there is a summer holiday to negotiate – so here are some of our suggestions to keep toddlers, tykes and teenagers entertained.
No matter how old they are, children typically love making things, even if by things we sometimes mean a mess. Many old-fashioned craft activities are still relevant today, so if you don’t have a supply of paint, colouring pencils, paper and glue in the house, perhaps now is the time to get some?
Drawing and painting pictures is not only fun but can genuinely develop a skill or talent that your child might become more interested in later. Of course, if your children aren’t the type to sit down a draw, why not try to get a little adventurous with it by painting old shoes, finding old T-shirts that can be painted or tie-dyed, or making use of cushions and cardboard boxes that can be transformed into vehicles, castles or even spaceships – and older kids can be kept busy and learn a new skill in being taught how to refurbish old furniture with a little stripping, sanding and a new coat of paint.
Potato stencilling is also a classic. It’s a wonderful way to both keep kids amused and use up those excess tubers that might not be eaten. Of course you could even just make your own Potato Head with some card, glue, paint and anything else you might have lying around.
EXERCISE THOSE GREEN FINGERS
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches trust.” These are obviously some wonderful character traits and more specifically, the sort we’d love to see in our children. Teaching kids to garden can encourage an attitude of conservation and respect for nature. Perhaps most importantly, though, gardening with children is downright fun. Children are natural explorers who find joy in the simple pleasures of planting seeds or searching for earthworms.
You don’t need a big garden to teach your child about gardening. In fact, small and simple is generally better because children are more likely to stay interested and less likely to become overwhelmed with too much going on. Plant easily grown items like beans, strawberries or sunflowers in cups and pots placed in a sunny window. Grow a tomato plant in a pot on your patio. Grow a small window box packed with an assortment of flowers. Use a simple little project like these to teach your child about gardening basics, such as maintaining healthy soil, sunlight, and water. As your child gains experience and interest, you could even graduate to their own mini vegetable or flower garden.
BASIC LIFE SKILLS
Now that the kids will have more free time than they know what to do with, perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity to teach our teenagers some useful life skills. Learning how to cook a basic meal is obvious, but maybe we could aim for something a bit more elaborate?
We could pass on the family recipe for chocolate cake, show our teens how to make a simple soup from scratch, make an apple tart or even some dough to make their own pizza. Of course on the more practical level, there are little necessities like changing different types of bulbs or a fuse, skills which not many are picking up quite as young anymore. When they eventually get exhausted (or bored) of learning about stuff around the house, you can move on to the car and give them all the skills they’ll need to be able to maintain their own one day, with simple things like – changing a tyre, where you put water or coolant, how to check your oil level and quality, attaching jump leads correctly, even changing light bulbs – and even if you don’t know how to do some of these yourself, you can both learn together with those helpful little guides on YouTube. Who knows, by the end of it, you may even have run a full service on your car.
Obviously, this is probably one for the younger kids, but there’s a reason this fun little activity has stuck around all these years. The thrill of hiding little treasures around the house or garden and having the kid’s rocket off with their first clue (often in the wrong direction) is entertaining for everyone involved.
Outdoors you could hide all manner of items, or even have them perform certain tasks to receive their next clue (maybe a sneaky way to get some chores done too). The list of treasures can be as long as your arm – and you can pack them a snack for their “expedition”. Also, if you have a sandpit it could be the perfect place for them to find some pirates style buried treasure. Feel free to mix up the games and ideas and space them out over a few days and, depending on their age, children can be kept busy for an hour or two while you have a quiet cuppa or make that important phone call.
Fingers crossed we get something a little warmer than our typically very Irish summer this year. Should such a thing arise, if you have a little team at home then perhaps you could hold a mini sports day to make up for the one that was likely missed earlier in school. The little ones will love an egg and spoon race (with hard-boiled eggs or a small potato), the “high jump” (over suitably soft items of course) and, if you have the space, even some ball-throwing competitions to see who toss them the furthest or even catch and throw them the most times without dropping.
Other activities could include: balancing on a “tightrope” (some tape on the ground) while balancing a soft toy on their head; some kid-friendly archery by tossing bean-bags and using a washing basket or bucket as the target– you could even go all out and set up an obstacle course with various objects for children to jump over, climb, run around or carry. Will it be warm enough to drag out the paddling pools, sprinklers and water fights? Hopefully, though they always guarantee lots of laughs regardless. If all else fails there’s always the old reliable, simply kicking a ball around and taking some penalty shots to keep your little troublemaker outside. This might mean you’ll have to try keep up with that seemingly limitless energy so we staying recommend staying in goals whenever the opportunity arises.
At McD’s we’ve been trying to keep on top of the needs of parents this summer with our largest every range of OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES & GARDEN PLAY. Here you should find a wide range of camping for kids sets, portable furniture, swimming pools, sand bags and other sporting items like goalposts. Please note we hide sold out items from our category page.