Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Top Holiday Ideas To Entertain Children

The school holidays are upon us and once more I find myself at home surrounded by children asking to be entertained. The holidays for me are a time to relax and unwind from the regular routine that exhausts every parent. I am so glad to be free of driving the endless school run, washing lunchboxes and preparing lunches, filing paperwork and sorting uniforms, packing bags and so on.

It's now time to chill, catch up with friends and do lots of sitting if I can manage it.

With such a variety of ages in my family, there are different needs to take into consideration. The older kids usually sort themselves out by organising sleep-overs at the homes of friends and get-togethers.
The younger 3 (excluding baby), are more of a handful. They need constant pulling in line, entertaining and discipline to get the most out of their free time. (And mine)!

For these younger kids in particular, I have some trusty ideas I fall back on to fill the longer days of the Spring holidays. Here's my little list which may help other parents or carers to keep their little darlings in check.

One thing I try to do the week before the holidays begin is to visit the local newsagents for colouring books and art supplies. Many newsagents have tables of children's items that are heavily discounted. I love to hunt through these items to find bargains to keep the littles happy. Sticker books, small nicknacks and activity books are brilliant items to pull out when the weather takes a bad turn or the boredom sets in.

In addition to shopping for these items, I also do internet searches for colouring pages to download and craft ideas. There are plenty of sites devoted to free downloads to keep kids entertained. Pinterest is a good source of inspiration for craft ideas. Why not start Halloween preparations now? Or Christmas decoration making? Kids love these events and I know mine are talking about them in the months before they arrive. (Often all year)! Might as well use the free time to enjoy crafting instead of leaving it until the silly season leaves you stressed, time-poor and cash-strapped.

Lego. Never underestimate the power of Lego! Lego is my go-to toy. Kids who've lost the plot generally fall back into line when this tub is placed on the table. Lego takes care of everyone and is a great all-ages toy. Spice up the play: suggest a challenge to make something and get all involved.

Pull out a box of toys the kids haven't seen for a while. Plastic animals, wooden bricks, toy cars and Barbies. I like to pair a toy with a DVD for inspiration. A dinosaur DVD works well with the tub of dinosaurs for example. The boys can get lost in this guided play for hours.

Tidying bedrooms for rewards. My personal favourite. Kids have energy to burn when not exhausted from school so make it work for you! Got some chips in the cupboard and the kids are hounding you for them? Make those chips currency! Don't dish out the treats just because the kids have finished lunch - make them pack the dishwasher before they get the snack.

Kids just love vacuuming!
Visit zoos. Across Victoria, it's free for children to attend a zoo on school holidays and weekends. Make the most of it. Zoos are always entertaining.

Visit local parks. Do a park hop. Take some sports equipment and enjoy the space.

Visit National parks and beaches. Hunt for shells, pinecones and gumnuts for craft or making Christmas decorations. Don't forget to take old buckets or containers for the kids' treasures.

Bake! Kids love baking. Make some cookies, chocolate pudding, cake. There's lots of recipes here on my blog to be tried. The promise of something yummy to enjoy at the end of their efforts is a great motivator and entertainer.

Prepare for the term ahead. Organise haircuts, new shoes, clothing or swimwear while you have the time. Make a day of it with some other fun thrown in - a movie or ice creams are perfect choices.

Visit your local library for DVDs, books and story time or craft activities. Libraries are a place to congregate. You might run into friends. There will be plenty of free entertainment to find on the shelves.

Spring is here which means fair time! Check the local paper for fetes near you. I just love a fair! Especially the cake stalls and craft stalls.

Got a garden job, garage cleaning task or household task to do? Pay the kids to sort it out for you. Reward them later with a trip to a lolly shop or toy store to spend their earnings.

Finally, there's the local pool. A great opportunity for fun and the kids get valuable swimming skills out of the water play.

What holiday ideas would you add to the list?
Do you have a favourite activity you do when the school breaks are on? Please share it by leaving a comment below.

Happy holidays!
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  1. This is a great list of things to consider. All I know right now is my kids are driving me crazy. I hope that feeling doesn't last the whole two weeks.

    1. I am with you! Only the first week and I am starting to go mad!

  2. I love school holidays! Lots of great suggestions here. I also love being able to do just do nothing, or watch TV, take naps, and rest, ready for another school term! -Aroha (for #teamIBOT)

    1. I am getting plenty of rest for the first time in 9 months since the little Miss arrived! Finally some sleep ins!

  3. How times have changed. When I was young it was expected my sister, brother and I would amuse ourselves. There were no structured organised activities; we simply had to invent things to do which we did. Played with our guinea pigs, dolls, played in the garden chasing each other. Built cubby houses, played in the dirt, played tiggy, read, colour in books, played school where one of us was the teacher. We really had to stretch our minds to invent things to keep us amused as Mum hated hearing 'we're bored Mum, what can we do?' By the end of each day we were exhausted from all the physical activities. There was nothing electronic available that we could play with so we had to use our imaginations. Mum didn't drive either so we were limited there as Dad took the car to work.

    1. That sounds much like my own childhood too. My friends had the electronic games but my parents would never buy them. Both of my parents didn't drive either! We did lots of cubbyhouse builds and go-carting instead.

  4. Great ideas! I especially like the tidying your room for treats! I will be using this one when my daughter gets older! Money Mummy

    1. Oh that's my favourite suggestion! It's the only way to get anything done in a large family. I certainly can't stay on top of it anymore!

  5. My kids love the free downloadables too, there's one website they use where you can create your own wordfinds which is pretty cool. I must ask Miss 10 what the URL is.

    1. That sounds great! I'd love to know what it is :D

  6. We have a 'holiday box' which has toys to be used only during holidays. The kids love playing with them - it's like Christmas! I usually check it a week or so before the hol to refresh and make sure they haven't outgrown anything. Thanks for your list - lots of great ideas. Cheers, Alison

    1. A great idea Alison! I will have to organise one of those next term too. Thanks for sharing :D

  7. My three are also very needy, and need an eye kept on them - but I've got lots of ideas from this - especially the downloadables, library and ready for back to school. I need to get Lego but can't afford it now - it used to keep us amused for hours as kids! Have a great week lovely :)

    1. I hope this rain stops so that mine can get outside! My printer's now run out of ink so no downloadables after all for us! :D

  8. What a fantastic list of activities! I definitely agree with using the treats as currency for getting the kids to clean their rooms! I like the idea of printing off colouring ins from the internet too. Haircuts, beaches, baking and the library are on our list of 'to dos' as well these holidays. Thanks for reminding me about lego .. it's so great for their concentration and imagination, isn't it? I love the photos of your little ones playing :)

  9. My little one is only 21 months old so I have to have heaps of activities ready all the time because he has an extremely short attention span. Lately with the hot weather, he's been loving the local water park, we love swimming in his little wading pool in the afternoons and blowing bubbles. Painting doesn't last long nor does colouring, he can only stay sitting in his pram for so long so I'm always on the look out for more ideas.

  10. One of our fave things to do is visit one of many of our local nurseries. The kids absolutely love being in among the plants and we often stop in for a milkshake at the cafe. It's a lovely morning or afternoon out and if I can resist buying new plants, it's pretty much a freebie!! x

  11. Great ideas! We love the parks and beaches we have nearby. There's also a circus on in our neighbourhood at the moment - We're off to see that soon! Enjoy the school holidays!

  12. Great post! A lot of these we do already, its funny I love school holidays so much and they seem to go so quickly! I am pretty luck too my kids rarely get bored and we always have awesome adventures together xx

  13. Some great ideas there! Sounds like your kids are going to be busy and happy - we loved the lego too!

  14. As a Tasmanian, I do certainly envy our "mainland" counterparts during school holidays - especially when I have so many kids to keep occupied!
    We certainly lack the free things to do and right now we have some really crap weather -read wind & rain!!
    But with a few tvs and iPads and computers we can pass the days with a couple of arguements!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!!

  15. Great list - I was nodding all through this post. :)

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