The holidays are a great time to relax with the kids without the hullabaloo of homework and the hectic daily school run. But for most parents (if honest!), it’s a time of equal parts delight and dread. After Santa’s long-anticipated visit is over, kids can quickly get bored and misbehave without a routine, hijacking the household serenity. And as mood swings rise from breezy to berserk, the temptation for most mere mortals is to extend the kids’ screen time (or lose your marbles!), which only adds fuel to the fire. Fear not. We’ve got an arsenal of activities to keep kids entertained over the holidays.
While trips to the zoo, theme park and aquarium are loads of fun, the cost can quickly add up. In between the odd “expensive” outing, plan plenty of free or in-home activity for every single day of the week — including an official “chill” day to sleep late, stay in your PJs, watch movies and read books.
There’s never been a better time to stock up on glitter and glue. Have a big tub or crafting drawer filled with coloured paper, scissors, pipe cleaners and googly eyes to keep creative kids busy for hours. Or get some crafting kits like grow your own crystals or a dinosaur dig kit (these are great stocking stuffers!).
Schedule in one day a week to cook with the kids. You can teach them valuable skills such as reading recipes, following instructions, measuring and weighing. Not only will you keep them occupied, you’ll all enjoy eating the final result. For those less motivated to help with dinner, bake cupcakes instead.
While they may have been pushed to the back of the cupboard in favour of Minecraft and Fortnight in recent years, indoor days are a great opportunity to dig out the old board games and play Monopoly or Cluedo. Or get a deck of cards and teach them games that are also great for road trips.
Encourage the kids to keep a diary to record their thoughts and activities throughout the summer. They could even add their own illustrations and paste in tickets to special events, like going to the zoo or the cinema. Not only will it keep them busy, it’s a wonderful keepsake for the future.
It’s the winning combination of teaching kids valuable skills and letting them get dirty. Veggie patches can be established in any sunny patch of soil in the garden or in a raised veggie bed. Plant your favourite foods, herbs or flowers or build a pallet garden. Keeping it well watered can also be a great job for the kids.
On those balmy days, there’s nowhere better to be than out in the garden. Take out some picnic rugs, towels or old blankets and let the kids set up a “lawn nest”, build a blanket fort, pyramid or tee-pee. Or let them curl up in a swinging basket chair and watch them fall into an afternoon snooze on the summer breeze.
It goes without saying that we’ve got a sizzling day or two coming over summer. Keep kids entertained over the holidays and cooled off on a slip and slide. Or fill some Super Soakers and let them run wild — but fair warning to postal workers, passing dogs and house guests: they may become collateral damage.
If you’re lucky enough to have a swimming pool, let the kids swim up a storm. You can join them in your togs or invite friends over for a poolside drink. Alternatively, head out to the beach or local public pool. Swimming is great exercise and very calming — they’ll sleep like babies later. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!)
Pack some sandwiches, watermelon, crackers and dip and head out into nature. You could go for a bushwalk, stroll on the beach or just head to your local park. Fresh air and exercise are good for you all and very mood lifting. You don’t even have to go anywhere — you can picnic in the garden or on the deck!
Summer is all about make the most of those warm evenings. What better way than setting up a DIY cinema in the backyard? Fasten a sheet to the fence and pick up a mini projector from an electronics store (for as little as $60) to stream movies from your phone or laptop. Spread blankets on the lawn and order pizza.
Give your tetchy teens a bedroom makeover so they’ll have a fresh new space to chill out in and hang with their friends. They can be assigned with the task of doing a big clean out first and even painting the walls. Check out our guide to creating the ultimate teenage retreat for some ideas or browse our range online.