I’ve heard parents complain about how expensive it can be to keep kids occupied during school holidays. They have all the time in the world and they want all kinds of entertainment.
They also eat a whole lot more than they typically do during the school term because of all that extra time on their hands.
I haven’t reached that stage yet but my time is definitely coming. For now, I’m hiding behind paying my daughter’s preschool a nominal fee for holiday club, where she is occupied every single day of the holiday because, unfortunately, I’m not on holiday when she is.
Not all parents have such services available to them and not all parents have the extra income to splurge on entertainment for their kids, so let’s chat about a few options for our varied pockets.
Start by choosing a handful of inexpensive activities that you know your kids enjoy and rotate them in a clever way. In fact, if you are able to list 10 different activities, you could do two each day. A little bit of spending might be required to secure a few items, but it need not be exorbitant.
You might need to purchase a swimming costume or trunks plus a swimming cap and goggles if your child requires them. If you have a pool at home, it’s a bonus, if not, a community pool or a friend’s pool is a great option.
Add a small ball for the kids to play with and you’re guaranteed they’ll be playing for hours. Just make sure there is adult supervision.
Taking a walk with your kids in the neighbourhood or walking to nearby shops can be a fun functional activity that doesn’t cost much.
Kids love kicking a ball around and scoring goals. Round up a few neighbourhood kids and create a three-of five-a-side soccer setup and trust me, the competitive instinct will kick in and keep them occupied for hours on end.
If you don’t have enough kids to play a soccer game, pair up with one other playmate and that can be enough to keep your child and other parents’ child busy.
A swingball set has been a firm favourite of mine for years and I already have my four-year-old attempting her hand at it. It’s a great outdoor game, one that can rev up serious competition amongst rivals. It can also be exhausting so you could be guaranteed nap time after hours of playing swingball.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s kids, including myself, were often outside, playing traditional games like jump rope, hopscotch, hide and seek, house-house, marbles, sling shot at birds, Chicago with a stack of empty tins and a rolled-up pair of old stockings. The list goes on.
Perhaps it might be time to educate millennials about a handful of these fun traditional games. If you, as a parent, play along, it may just add to the fun at first and once the kids get the hang of it, you can slowly moonwalk away and let them have fun with their friends.
Sign up for a 5km fun run with your kids on the weekend or, if your neighbourhood is one of the lucky ones with a Parkrun location, then do it with the kids because many parents do that nowadays. It’s a fun way for your kids to mingle with others while doing a little bit of exercise.
If your kids are lucky enough to own a bicycle, go out with them. If you don’t own a bike but they do, run beside them around the neighbourhood.
Putting together puzzles can be a challenging but fun activity that keep the kids busy for quite some time. From 20-piece puzzles for the little kids to 5 000-piece puzzles for the older kids.
You can even attach an incentive for the older kids if they finish their big puzzles. You’ll be guaranteed that they are occupied for hours.
Board games can be a fun way to entertain kids in groups or families. There are plenty of board games that are family friendly and can be played by both young and old members of the family. With most of them, you are guaranteed great laughter and fun debates.
Even though this is not physical activity in any form, it’s an activity that kids enjoy. A movie or two over the holidays with a bit of homemade popcorn won’t hurt.
These are simply a handful of inexpensive activities, there are many others that the kids can do over the holidays.
As mentioned earlier, kids’ appetites also sky-rocket over the holidays. Try and incorporate some form of protein in each meal or the snacks you provide from time to time, to help keep them feeling fuller for longer.