How to get the kids off the sofa this summer
Are you dreading the thought of coming up with ways of filling your children’s time during the summer holidays and, most importantly, getting them off their screens and into the fresh air? We feel your pain, and so have come up with hacks, ideas and top tips for plotting a summer that keeps your children active and happy…
First things first, if your children are telly addicts or seem to be surgically attached to their games console, set some ground rules about when they are allowed screen time and when they aren’t. You could have TV and computer game time scheduled in at the same time every day, plan family film nights or offer it as a reward if they help around the house or behave particularly well. Allow them to have some input and make sure they agree to these rules, so everyone knows where they are.
Top tip: As everyone knows, rules are made to be broken. Sometimes kids are tired (or you are!), and everyone just needs a bit of chill time. In these cases, there’s nothing wrong with letting them veg out for a bit when a time out is required by all.
One of the most important benefits of prising your kids off the sofa during the holidays is to get them fit and healthy. Get them invested in their personal well-being by using a fitness app such as Fitbit or Strava to track steps taken and distances covered over the course of each day. Set step targets, and also try to hit the ‘five a day’ fruit and veg mark. Your kids could help with shopping and menu planning, so you include the healthy food they actually enjoy eating. Make it fun by setting challenges such as ‘try three new fruits a week’ or ‘eat the rainbow’, and asking them to design a spreadsheet, checklist or certificate for those taking part. Better still, ask them to help you plant some seeds so you can grow your own: cress and rocket are fast to grow, and chitting potatoes are also low effort for maximum reward.
Top tip: Smoothies are an excellent way of packing fruit and veg into your children’s diets. They’ll love helping you whizz up the drinks, especially if they’re packed with their favourite fruits – and sneak in a bit of kale or spinach for added goodness!
One of the best ways of guaranteeing you get your kids off the sofa and out of the house is to book them in for a holiday course or two. General sports and activity camps are popular options, and for children who aren’t into sport, drama, science and nature clubs are great alternatives. Search online for courses near you, ask at sports centres, museums and galleries for alternatives, and check with friends about where they are sending their kids, in case you want your child to join the same course.
Top tip: This summer is set to be all about the staycation, so places on the best courses will fill up extremely quickly. Book early to avoid disappointment!
Over lockdown, tennis became an extremely popular means of keeping fit for many – and heading to the court as a family is a brilliant way to spend an hour or two. If your children are old enough and have played before, then go for it with warm up rallies and then a match. If your kids are a bit too young for a proper game, then, as well as hitting a few balls, play some games on the court. ‘Pacman’, for example, is a tag game in which the players must stick to the court lines as they chase each other. Check with your council about booking a court near you (at certain off -peak times they may even be free of charge), and if you don’t have your own children’s racket, check on your local WhatsApp groups to see if you can borrow one. The LTA has a youth programme which offers affordable coaching and equipment, search here for a course near you.
Top tip: Little children can struggle to hit normal-sized tennis balls, so buy some oversized sponge ones which move more slowly and are therefore much easier for them to whack.
Stock up on reading books
On rainy days, you need some alternatives to computers and television, so why not stock up on some new books to create a summer library for the little bookworms in your life? They could choose some new books they are keen to read and you could add some of your own childhood favourites. Make reading time part of your daily routine, when you and they settle down with a book for half an hour or so. You could read separately or out loud to each other, and why not open up your little library to friends in your street to get some swaps going? Mix it up with audiobooks too, Audible has a huge collection, some libraries offer audio access to their titles, or invest in a child-friendly stereo such as a Yoto player.
Top tip: Support your local bookshop if you have one, or use bookshop.org, a website that gives proceeds of every sale to independent bookstores.
Turn the pavement outside your home into a collage of colour by supplying your children with giant chalk and letting their imaginations run wild. They can draw flowers, animals, rainbows and anything else that takes their fancy to brighten up the street. Encourage neighbours and friends to join in the fun, and get that community spirit going for the summer.
Top tip: If they are inspired to be even more arty, treat your kids to this bubble painting kit. It’s a enjoyably messy way to create some spectacularly colourful pictures.
Dotting day trips throughout your summer schedule will mean you know for sure that there'll be plenty of times that the kids are up and active, plus there’ll always be something to look forward to. If you live near a beach, then a day by and in the sea is a no brainer. You could also do nature trails, bike rides and become a tourist in your own town by doing some sightseeing. With social distancing in place, certain attractions such as zoos, museums and theme parks, may need to be booked, so planning ahead is essential.
Top tip: Have a day in which the kids can choose the itinerary. The only rule is TV and computer games aren’t allowed. With that caveat in place, encourage them to think creatively about what day trips and activities they want to do, and the treats they want to indulge in!
Strawberries are a quintessential element of a Great British summer and going strawberry picking is an excellent activity, and in more ways than one. Firstly, going to a local farm or garden centre and having a go at picking is a fun way to get out and about, and, secondly, you can take your haul home and the options of what to do with it are numerous. You could simply scoff the strawberries as they are, but it’s more rewarding to attempt some recipes with the kids help. Options include baking a Victoria sponge, making strawberry sauce for ice cream or whipping up a strawberry pavlova. Whatever you sweet tooth demands, go for it!
Top tip: Team up your strawberry creations with some of our lovely themed tableware. These strawberry plates and strawberry napkins are perfectly ripe for a summer tea party.
Water park at home
When the sun shines, water games will go down a storm and give your kids a chance to blow off steam. Shop for water guns, water slides and water balloon bunches, and then stand back or get splashed!
Top tip: Turn your back garden into an outdoor fun zone for the summer, meaning your kids always have an option for things to keep them entertained outdoors. We’ve got a blog packed with ideas and hacks for transforming your outside space.
Need more summer holiday inspo? Read our guides to family camping holidays, rainy day activities for kids and hosting the ultimate BBQ