How to keep the children entertained during the holidays

I’m not taking any chances with the school holidays looming.
I have a plan.
Not a plan on an Excel spreadsheet like one nerdish parent I shan’t name, but a plan nonetheless.

I’ve told the children we’re having a quiet one because we’ve all been really busy just lately so they’ve quietly cursing me under their breath. But just think how they will hug me and do my every bidding when I produce this work of art for them.
I’ll be sure to make sure they tell all their friends what a fab half term they had . . .

MONDAY
The Natural World

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If it’s a choice between watching the TV or going in the back garden, my children will choose the garden every day of the week and twice on a rainy day.
Mud pies? Check.<
Wheelbarrow rides? Check.
Helping daddy fit more in the ‘green’ wheelie bin by stamping down on it’s contents? Check.
I’ve got a new tree to tend to, the grass to mow, leaves to clear and soil to hoe – I kid you not, if I said we were going to Disneyland they couldn’t be more happy. Especially when I tell them there are a few dead plants to pull up and there will be WORMS on the lose.
I’ve also promised them a veggie patch of their own which they will need to plant and tend – and by tend I don’t mean ‘water’ the seedlings with Coca Cola like Mia tried last year “because it must taste better than just water”.
I don’t think there is anything cuter than seeing children in the garden in their wellies, smeared in mud and brandishing a trowel.

TUESDAY
Delia Does Dinner

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The day my 7-year-old son said the words: “will you teach me to cook mummy” was a day my heart did swell.
And look at him in his chef’s hat . . . next Jamie Oliver? Pah, better than that.
He’s already written his ‘wish’ list of lessons: Bolognese sauce, cottage pie, Spanish rice and for afters flapjacks, cookies and gingerbread men.<
We’ve been sent a rather impressive box of baking goodies from Morrisons to get us started, including said chef’s hats, aprons, baking trays, cake mixes, cake decorations and food colouring.
They opened the box and squealed.
What they don’t know is that the kitchen is like an extension of the classroom: Measuring, counting, dividing in half/quarters, timing, reading instructions, listening to mummy/teacher when she says the grown up has to test the goodies first because, well, just because . . .

WEDNESDAY
Art Attack
I confess there are days one of the children asks to get the PlayDoh out and my heart sinks.
10 minutes of play and they’re BORED of it and there is half a pack’s worth littering the floor and I spend the next half an hour clearing up and picking it out of the living room rug.
So now we have an art day.
Junk modelling, card making, painting, drawing, copying, creating.
I set everything up in different areas and treat the house like a craft centre they can move around from area to area.
I’ve been buying the blank stretched canvases you can pick up quite cheaply now and having them create a ‘work of art’ on those. They will then hang them in their bedroom (as opposed to the million and one pieces of art stuck to the wall in the utility room) and so they take AGES pouring over it, perfecting it, tinkering with it with loving attention.

THURSDAY
The Movie Show

My kids love movies, no two ways about it.
And the preparation is almost as good as the actual watching.
Choosing the films (Dan likes action, Mia likes anything with Aslan in, I refuse to watch anything with a failed 80s star in), choosing the snack of choice (err hello? It’s the movies, you HAVE to have popcorn surely?).
Then we close the blinds so it’s dark like the cinema, cuddle up under a blanket (not so much like the cinema) and . . . silence.
Any suggestions for good family movies on DVD this half term?

FRIDAY
The Discovery Channel

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This family has a great love of the outdoors.
We joined the National Trust last year and it was money well spent. But you don’t have to spend money to enjoy the great outdoors.
Just go outside. Go walking, discover fields, forests, hills, build dens and just walk.
Jump in puddles, discover interesting leaves, listen out for animals, race up hills, play hide and seek . . .
My latest plan is to have them keep a Nature Journal. Write down what they see, what they find: stick leaves, bits of bark, interesting finds in there: draw trees they see, statues, the view.
Really, just like the kitchen, the outdoors can be such a fabulous extension of the classroom.

SATURDAY
If I say today is a free day, Dan and Mia will pick one of three things to do.
1. Build a den from duvets, pillows, chairs, blankets and the clothes airer.
2. Wrestle (as in I’m the ‘baddie’ and have to pile drive them on to the bed while growling and snarling – really I look quite attractive when doing this). Throwing them around on the bed, calling them names and, ultimately, getting jumped on, pounded and pinned down is also part of the deal.
3. Build an assault course, using stools, cushions, the sofa, chairs, old boxes and, complete the course in the style of an army recruit. Alarmingly, they once used my make up as camouflage paint . . .

SUNDAY
The Board Room

I don’t know where it began but Sunday has always been ‘games’ day for us.
I’m talking board games, games you play at the kitchen table. Games you play as a family.
And while we’ve been bought an array of interesting new fangled games over the years, we always, always come back to our old favourites.
Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble, Chess, Snakes & Ladders, Frustration.
We’ve even rediscovered the joy of just a pencil and a piece of paper and play old favourites like Hangman, Noughts & Crosses and the one where you write a long word at the top of the page and have to create as many new words from it as you can in 1 minutes.
You know what they say: A family that plays together, stays together – except of course when hubby cheats and tries to tell us he didn’t see Mrs Peacock in the Library with the candlestick . . .

SUNDAY NIGHT
Collapse. Drink pints of tea. Eat my own body weight in chocolate. SLEEEEEEP.

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