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If those words are the equivalent of nails scraping down a blackboard for you, check out how Robyn Wilder won over her kids with these easy boredom-busters. You’re welcome!
(Time investment: 30 minutes)
Visit your local fire brigade. Many stations welcome family visits if you book in advance, although it varies from area to area.
After a morning of intensive scientific research (watching Fireman Sam on TV in our pyjamas), my 4-year-old son, Herbie, and I visit our local fire station. And of course, he’s immediately struck mute with shyness. Luckily, the officer showing us around is an old hand with kids, and we’re soon trying on hazard suits, soaking each other’s feet with a fire hose and giggling. My son fizzes with happiness, especially when he’s allowed to press the ‘nee-naw button’ on the fire engine.
FUN FACTOR: Herbie keeps talking about the questions he’ll ask ‘next time’ – so that’s an activity sorted for the following summer, too.
HAIR-TEARING-OUT FACTOR: Minimal, although you may need to make a quick exit if there’s an actual fire emergency.
TOP TIP: Firefighters love it if you turn up with chocolate biscuits to say thanks.
ADDED VALUE: ELC Whizz World Fire Engine, £25/2,500 points, can help them relive the fun back home.
(Time investment: 2 hours)
Fill a picnic basket with balls, ribbon, hula hoops, spoons and bean-bag toys, and head to your local park for a home-made sports day.
I drag husband Stuart, Herbie and pre- schooler Ned into this experiment with the promise of pizza if it all goes wrong. I stage three main contests: the forward-roll challenge (which I do straight into someone’s picnic); the three-legged race (my husband ties himself to our taller, older son, and they win by a wide margin, while our toddler, to whom I’m tethered, keeps sitting down to inspect my knot-tying); and the bean-bag-toy-and-spoon race (we’re using them instead of eggs). Everyone gets so giggly, breathless and competitive, nearby families join us.
FUN FACTOR: A really great – and free – day out for all the family.
HAIR-TEARING-OUT FACTOR: I over-complicated matters with toy winners’ medals and a bunting finish line. We only needed sweets for prizes and bean-bag toys to indicate the finish.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT: Soltan Kids Sensitive Protect Suncare Spray SPF50+, £6.50/650 points (200ml), will provide five-star UVA and UVB protection for their outdoor adventures.
(Time investment: 1 day)
Work with your kids to plot, costume-design and shoot their very own movie, then hold a ‘screening’ over dinner.
I do this with the help of Herbie, his friend Charlie, and Charlie’s mum, Jo. A plot presents itself almost immediately: ‘What if,’ shout the boys, ‘a wolf fights a dinosaur, but then a volcano erupts and there’s a disco-party with aliens?’ Quietly panicking over how to create such an, erm, eclectic drama, Jo and I get out card and glitter pens to make the opening titles to Wolf Dino Volcano Disco. Costumes and set-design come courtesy of face paint and a polo neck for the wolf, a dinosaur hoodie for the dinosaur, a play-clay volcano and gummy bears for the aliens (we’ll zoom in on them). ‘Filming’ largely involves the kids running around the garden with their tablets (which may or may not be switched on), with we mums doing surreptitious back-up filming on our mobiles. We stage a screening that evening, during which our kids fall asleep, of course!
FUN FACTOR: Lots of amusement was had by all.
HAIR-TEARING-OUT FACTOR: It was a long day for small people with even smaller attention spans. Next time, I’ll make the ‘screening’ more immediate.
TOP TIP: Do the actual filming yourself.
SOOTHE THE MUNCHIE MONSTERS: All that method acting makes kids hungry, so they’ll love tasty and nutritious Organix Goodies Raisins Mini Boxes, £2.49/249 points (12-pack; for 12mths+).
(Time investment: multiple activities that can be done during the month)
A subscription to Mud + Bloom* is a great way to develop your kids’ interest in the natural world. A monthly box is sent to you with everything needed for various nature-oriented activities 3 to 8 year olds can do.
The Mud + Bloom kit has Herbie’s name printed on it and arrives via our letter box, so he’s immediately more interested than he’d be if I’d set up any gardening-style activity for him myself. Fairly soon, we’re planting beetroot seeds in a yogurt pot and calendula seeds in an egg box. While there’s a brief period of mourning when he learns that we won’t see seedlings for weeks, he’s mollified by going outside and listening for different types of bird calls. We get another two mornings’ activities out of the box, including filling a nature journal with leaves and feathers we find, and spotting butterflies in the garden.
FUN FACTOR: Perfect! I really felt as though we were playing together, too.
HAIR-TEARING-OUT FACTOR: Turns out, I’m not that fond of butterflies, mainly because of their erratic flappiness.
TOP TIP: Keep some old egg boxes/yogurt pots handy for seed-planting.
DON’T FORGET: When you’re exploring, nature can bite back, so spritz them with Jungle Formula Kids’ Insect Repellent Factor 2†, £7.49/749 points (125ml).
†Use biocides safely; always read the label and product information before use.
*mudandbloom.com: prices start at £9.95 for a single box if you subscribe and pay monthly.
Struggling to keep the textured hair of your little one under control? To avoid tears when it comes to washing and brushing, Cantu Care For Kids Conditioning Detangler, £4.99 (177ml), helps to make life easier, while keeping curls lovely and soft. Click here to discover the whole range.
Illustration Kavel Rafferty