Christmas is upon us now, which means that as a parent you have to either take time off work or spend money on childcare if your work is less than flexible. Coming up with a plan of activities may not be something you want to worry about when you already have 101 things to organise over the Christmas period.
Most school holidays will fall into this category, particularly the long summer break. And there’s nothing worse than having bored kids around the house. Therefore, it is worth finding some failsafe activities to keep your kids entertained during the holidays.
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Free Outdoor Activities
Check out your local council’s website or even Facebook groups for parents and kids as there will almost certainly be a section on the activities available to you in your local area. It’s also worth checking out free newsletters and magazines for any activities or events in your area. Sometimes you will find other parents in a similar position who have organised an event that you and your children can get involved in.
Going to the local park will never lose its charm, and is a great way to let the kids loose in a safe green space. If you have forests or woods available to you, you can take a family hike and make a day of it. Just make sure you wrap up warm!
Many cities have ‘city farms’ in their interior that cater to children, and they often have clubs and activities around school holidays, which may be low-cost or even free. Check out your local community farm and see if there are activities, or even go and spend an afternoon volunteering or just visiting the animals with your young ones. There’s nothing quite like interacting with animals to bring a smile to your child’s face. Engaging with animals one-on-one is even proven to have many health benefits for young children, such as greater cognitive ability and capacity for empathy. Interestingly, it has been noted that “children with autism, other spectrum disorders or ADHD can experience lowered blood pressure and better cognitive and communication gains when able to participate in therapy dog programs”. Combining ‘animal therapy’ with some healthy exercise and fresh air is a beautiful way to spend a day out with your children.
Image source Pixabay
For those of you that have to work for some of the holiday periods, whether that’s Christmas, Easter, or the summer holidays, there are options available to you that don’t have to cost the earth. While traditional childcare can be very expensive, there are other options worth considering, not just playgroups or children’s centres.
Museums and Art Galleries
If it’s a wet day, and let’s be honest, in the UK’s winter months it likely will be, then indoor activities needn’t be limited to boardgames or iPads. Go out to cultural centres such as museums or art galleries, having researched the kind of exhibitions available to you that you think your family would most likely appreciate and enjoy. Kids will love walking around these spaces, and there are often interactive parts of contemporary museums. Have a look online and see what is available to you, and you might be surprised by what is on offer in your city or town. The added plus of a museum or gallery is that it is entertaining for both kids and adults, so you don’t have to sit in a corner, watching Peppa Pig for the trillionth time.
If your child’s birthday falls on a holiday, there are many ways to celebrate this, without breaking the bank. You might want to organise a birthday party yourself, or you may want to hire a children’s parties specialist who will take away the stress. If you decide to have a party at your home, then the added help of entertainment will mean that you can focus on the many other things that kids parties seem to entail!
If you prefer to go outdoors, then you can also find some free, or low-budget activities to choose from, perhaps you have a green space near you like a park that you can use, or you can even create a treasure trail, which will have the kids nicely tired out before it’s time for tea.
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Most cities and towns have cinemas, correct. However, did you know that there are also many independent screenings of films available on a donation basis, or even free. Check out the free film screenings near you. If for whatever reason, you don’t have anything like this near you, why not hire a projector and create your own cinema screening in your front room? You can get the kids involved by allowing them to choose the film, set-up the ‘cinema’ and get creative with the snack making. While they are watching the film, this is also a time for you to either relax or get on with your own affairs.
Get Creative in the Kitchen
Don’t worry. I hear what you’re saying- cooking equals mess, mess, and more mess. But what if I told you could keep your kids entertained for hours by giving them some dough, cookie cutters, and food colouring? Weighing up the pros and cons, and you’ll probably conclude that cooking (with supervision) can be a great way to keep your kids focused on an activity, using their motor skills, and involved in an artistic activity. What you decide to make is up to you and your kids, and how much mess you want to make, or avoid making. Have a look at some cooking ideas for kids, and get inspired this holiday. With Christmas just around the corner, you can turn cooking (and cleaning up) into a festive tradition, and create winter biscuits or edible decorations to hang on your tree and around the home.
These are just some suggestions that could help you and your family during the holiday period. The most important thing is that you manage to enjoy the moments you have with your children as much as possible. Keeping them entertained and also creating some beautiful memories.