It’s week 3 of the summer holidays and if you haven’t already been driven up the wall by your kids, then watch out cos it’s about to get nasty!
I’ve got two little darlings; my son Finlay who’s just turned 8 and is, as every other 8 year old boy seems to be, addicted to Minecraft, gaming, TV…basically anything that’s got a screen and for some reason is completely incapable of entertaining himself, and my daughter Flo aged 6, who loves to colour, make stuff and is really good at entertaining herself, but tires easily and boy do we know about it!
I like to keep them busy and we’re quite an active family; Fin plays football and I have also recently started bringing him along when I go out running, and Flo loves swimming and is about to sign up for football training as well, but I know all too well that it’s all about balance, so for every bit of active time they need some down time too.
However, it’s during this down time, the times when we have a day at home and I expect them to play (it’s not exactly too much to ask is it?!), that the bickering goes into hyperdrive.
If your kids are anything like my two then the following ‘bickers’ might sound all too familiar to you.
“Muuuuuuum! He’s looking at me”
(Oh no, worst crime ever!)
“Muuuuuuum! I’m hungry”
(Immediately after eating an all you can eat buffet sized lunch – it is literally costing me a fortune and the boy is by far the worst. But what annoys me the most is that when he’s at school he doesn’t eat all of his packed lunch because he says he’s not hungry. What?!)
“Muuuuuuuuum! I’m bored”
(No, no, no no, NO! At the risk of sounding like my own mum…only boring people get bored. And um what exactly are all those brightly coloured pieces of plastic littering our house…? Because if you’re not going to play with them, 1 word…BIN!)
“Muuuuuuuuuuuum! Finlay/Flo just punched me”
(Did they actually punch you? I mean are we talking proper boxing, knock out style punch here or could you be exaggerating just a teeny tiny bit? No tears = no punch!)
“Muuuuuuuuuuuuuum! Finlay just called me a poo/willyhead/stinky” (delete as appropriate)
(What, sorry are you talking to me? I’d stopped listening after the second glass of wine…Just call him a poo/willyhead/stinky back)
And so on,
and so on.
and so on.
What is the solution to surviving the summer holidays?
If anyone finds it I’d love to know, because I’m really sorry, but we are definitely still a ‘work in progress’ family and I am yet to find the elusive golden answer. However, before you start breaking down into your Pinot, I do have a few handy hints that might just buy you the odd half hour of peace (anything’s better than nothing right?)
Make a Den
Now, the beauty of this one is that it might buy you even more time, but the key is being organised. Gather together all your old blankets, sheets, old tent poles, bits of old drainpipes, basically anything you’ve got lying around that would make good den making materials. OK, next sit the kids in front of the TV (no honestly stick with me), go to CBBC on iPlayer and look up ‘Dengineers‘. My two have only recently discovered this programme and they LOVE it! For people of my generation (I’m talking to those of you who grew up in the 80s and 90s) it’s kind of a mixture between ‘Why Don’t You‘, ‘Blue Peter‘ and ‘Changing Rooms‘, and basically involves a team of people creating a den for a child. But we’re not just talking your bog standard den, oh no, examples have included a football den featuring astro turf floor, managers chair and flood lighting, an art den including state of the art photo equipment, wipeable floor and pretty much every type of art material going, and a spy den with it’s very own hidden CCTV room, sound proofed walls, drone, keycode entry pass etc. etc. In kids terms the dens on this program are ‘epic’.
So, anyway, get your kids to watch an episode whilst you put your feet up and enjoy part one of your peace. When it’s over tell them to sit down and design their own dream den; they’ll be super keen at this point and will have loads of ideas. Just remember it’s probably best at this stage to keep it quiet that they won’t actually be getting all of the stuff they’re listing in their designs. What they won’t know won’t hurt them, right? Finally, send them out in the garden and get them to create their den. This should buy you at least an extra 10 minutes; I’m under no illusions that this is a prime bicker making activity, so if it seems to be heading towards bickersville, I find shutting the back door always helps drown the noise out.
Organise a Scavenger Hunt
Depending on the age of your children you may have to accompany them on this one, so although it doesn’t buy you some alone time, it does prevent ‘bicker’ time. We did this activity last weekend and the kids absolutely loved it.
Split up into teams; we were 2 and 2, boys against girls.
Come up with a team name; we had boys ‘Minecrafting Men’ (I told you he was obsessed!), girls ‘Jelly Wobble’ (don’t even ask!)
Write down a list of 10 things to find. They must be the same 10 items for each team.
- Something beginning with ‘F’
- A cake
- Something green
- Something triangle shaped
- A book about the town we live in
- A leaflet
- A selfie with an animal
- A yellow car
- A blue door
- The number 6
Set the rules – you don’t need many, but to spare the bickers at the end a couple of rules are a must.
Our rules included:
- Must be finished within the hour or penalty points apply
- You only have £2
- You must walk
- You can take pictures of things
- You lose points if you don’t get all of the items on the list
- You can score bonus points for more original items.
Who needs PokemonGo when you have this?
The only thing we used our phones for was to take photos, we spent time together, we got some exercise, we worked as a team and we had a right old laugh seeing what the other team had got at the end of it. Obviously, to save bickers, the result was confirmed a draw; each team brought back all the items within the hour and scored a few bonus points. However, I like to think the girls team pipped the boys team ever so slightly.
Yay, go team Jelly Wobble!
There are so many benefits to getting kids to help out in the kitchen and I like to involve my two as much as possible. Not only does it teach them a valuable life skill, but it also helps out with mathematics (measuring, weight, time etc.), encourages kids to try new foods and lets them get messy. Apologies if you’re a parent who’s a bit OCD with mess, but I think it’s important for kids to really get their hands messy when they cook and to feel what ingredients are like and to not worry if they’ve spilt stuff on the kitchen worktop. We tend to stick to making cupcakes, cornflake cakes, smoothies, biscuits etc., as it means they get to lick the bowl out at the end, which we all know is the best bit!
One of the perks of the job I’m in is that I get sent lots of products to review, so when I was sent a sushi making kit from Yutaka I knew that it was something I could get my kids involved with too.
The Sushi Starter Kit comes complete with:
- 2 nori sheets (the seaweed that you roll it up in)
- 1 boil-in-the-bag sushi rice
- 1 bamboo rolling mat
- 1 sachet of sushi vinegar
- 1 sachet of ginger
- 1 sachet of wasabi paste
- 1 sachet of soy sauce
- 1 set of easy to follow instructions
All we had to do was decide on the fillings; we chose smoked salmon, avocado and cucumber. Flo, being the more creative of the two, leapt at the chance to make sushi with mummy, whilst Finlay huffed, politely declined then disappeared into the TV screen – he’s more of an eating kind of boy than a making kind of boy!
If you want to see how Flo and I got on making our sushi, check out our You Tube video (see below). We had a lot of fun making it, Flo was brilliant as a TV chef (future career maybe?) and best of all she tried sushi, which is something I would never, ever have thought she would try – she’s the ‘fussy’ one.
If you’d like to have a go at making sushi with your kids you can buy the Yutaka Sushi Starter kit from Amazon, Sainsburys and other good food retailers for approximately £4, pretty cheap for a family activity that also sorts out their lunch as well!
So, that’s a few ideas to keep you and hopefully your kids busy…
I’ll leave you with these 3 lovely thoughts to help you through the tough times:
- There’s always wine!
- There’s always the grandparents!
- There’s only 3 weeks left!