With half term upon us, I like many other parents have been racking my brains to find activities and things to do to keep my four strong brood entertained for the week…
It can be really tough, especially when you have a large age gap, filling in the days when the school holidays come round. Mine are between 2 and 10, so it can be pretty tricky finding things that we can all do together and that all of them will enjoy, without breaking the bank, and with a ratio of one adult to 4 children. This can be made even more difficult in the winter holidays as the weather can make outdoor activities impossible
Age is a factor
Some of the usual ‘go to’ indoor activities, such as swimming and the cinema are totally out of the question for us. Swimming would not be safe, one Mum versus 3 non-swimmers, and drowning would be a distinct possibility! While asking my two year old twins to sit through a whole film – is laughable!
So what do we do, well if the weather shines down on us… a favourite outing has to be the park, basically any park where there is space to run around… however, see my list below of some of our favourites.
If time is short, and we have been cooped up all day, we love to just nip down the road and feed the ducks, as we have a duck pond near by. We’ve all had those days where suddenly tea-time is encroaching but everyone simultaneously gets cabin fever so you just have to throw your coats and shoes on and get out, before you are fully in the throws of the witching hours. (In our house, that is anywhere between 3pm and bedtime, where young children just get totally beside themselves, when ideally they would just like to be fed and then bedded would be preferable.)
However, as parents we are terrified that this would mean they would be up all night, so instead we ride out the twighlight hours, where one tantrum can roll into another until 7pm bedtime arrives!
Sorry, I am getting sidetracked, picnics are another favourite, and even if there is a sudden down pour, (the minute the said picnic is in the bag – this has happened to us twice!) Instead of being defeated we had, and regularly have carpet picnics, inside.
The great thing about picnic and park days is that they are basically free, and there is nothing better than seeing your children running off all of that steam in the park. Kids are in their element, and its just so much fun.
Our favourite parks in and around South Yorkshire:
- 1. Millhouses Park, Sheffield… This park has everything, a water area, playground, scooter area, fields and even a stream
- 2. Clifton Park, Rotherham … This park may get you spending a little bit of money on the rides, however, the water area is incredible on hot days and totally free. There is a lovely little museum if its a rainy day, and lots of open space for running around. There are lots of playgrounds too which cater for all ages, so great if you have kids with a bit of an age gap.
- 3. Locke Park, Barnsley. Again this one has lots of space for running around, a lovely playground and cafe… It even has Rapunzel’s tower! (Also known as Locke Tower – a folly which was builtin memory of a railway pioneer’s wife)
- 4. Chapeltown Park, Sheffield. Not the largest park in the world but it has a bit of everything, a play area, fields, woodland, a nature walk, a stream.
- 5. Wentworth Garden centre park and gardens, Rotherham
- 6. Norfolk Park, Sheffield. Fantastic playgrounds, open space and some killer hills to run down!
However, sometimes it rains… and rains and RAINS! So you have to just baton down the hatches and make the most of it.
Our favourite rainy day activities are…
- 1. Play dough – Embrace the fact that you will need to do a full sweep of the entire downstairs afterwards, and get those cutters out!
- 2. Painting – Cover as much as you can in plastic, floor, tables, paint aprons on the kids and again… worry about the mess afterwards.
- 3. Baking – I like to give each of my children their own job, to prevent (or at least limit) squabbles over the spoon, or bowl, or tray. Everyone has a role and then they know they will get their turn.
- 4. Den Making – Get every blanket, cushion and pillow you can find, pegs can really help the ‘roof’ stay together! Get ready for the inevitable collapse.
- 5. Jigsaws – All four of my little people love jigsaws, they are great, and can be age appropriate, so they are all equally challenged.
- 6. DRESS UP – There isn’t a day that goes by where someone isn’t dressed up as something or other in our house. But my kids love it when I get involved too, being ‘made up’ by them… Some of the hair styles I’ve had, have been something to behold, especially as my hair is pretty short.
- 7. Colouring, sticking and making. We have three plastic ‘creative’ drawers and they are packed with feathers, sequins, paints, pens, pencil crayons, glue, tissue paper etc. (Whenever I see anything like this in the sale, I grab it, as a messy make day can be a saviour of a rainy day.)
- 8. Lego – Build anything and everything… We have the duplo bg bricks for the little ones, and small lego for the older ones… Never can the two worlds meet, which can be tricky sometimes!
- 9. Hide and seek, indoors… it may seem silly but my 4 love it, even though the hiding places are somewhat limited. There may have to be some creative oversight on the behalf of the seeker to let the little ones have a chance at hiding!
- 10. If all the above have been exhausted and the walls are closing in, get those splash suits out and wellies and embrace the rain. Go out and get puddle splashing, which is so much fun. This usually happens for us on about day 2.5 of consecutive rain!
I hope that helps some of you, maybe try a new park or different activity, and let me know your favourites too – I’d love to try something new with our brood…
School holidays …. Mum’s, we’ve got this! xx