Warning this is long - but there is a useful free download near the bottom so persevere!
Almost as soon as the Summer Holiday begins, I start hearing a terrifying moan; 'I'm Bored!'.
Without the strict and predicatable routine of school, my children, suddenly oppressed by the choices available to them, do NOT know what to do with themselves. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and spending time with them, but all three of them, all day? For 6 weeks?! Some days they don't get on with each other, and some days they don't get on with me, but then, some days we all love each other and rainbows come out. Also, on those days, bluebirds do my dishes.
If you have a teenager, or small someone with very keen ideas about what they what to do, that is GREAT. Pour a Pimms and watch them go about their business. Mine, on the other hand, hang around in my peripheral vision making weeping noises, waiting for me to switch on an interactive whiteboard. Of course, this summer, you hopefully will manage to leave the house on a few days out, and if you are very lucky, relatives will take the children for some of the time (!). Then there's the possible week/fortnight family holiday. That still leaves a looooong time to occupy them.
It isn't going to be pretty, unless you roll up those sleeves and tackle the issue head on. They do need some guidance about what to do, and some freedom to play like children are meant to. You know your own child. I have both the lovely 'reads all day' kind, and the less lovely 'take your eye off me I want to unleash hell' kind, so I have been playing about with some ideas that enable me to suggest and support activities that also encourage creativity and free play.
I have found that a small amount of preparation and planning at the beginning of the holiday can go a long way. Make sure that the games, play equitment and toys get a good sort out so you all know what there is. My favoured early holiday activity is a trawl for the charity shop box and ritual throwing out of broken toys and old drawings/work. Our problem is we like to keep all our old pictures! If you do this clear out the kids are bound to have a better idea of what there actually is to do.
Sign Up for to your local library. This year The Reading Agency is offering a great reading challenge called Spooky House for all school kids via the library service. It is free and the artwork is all done by the excellent Chris Riddell. Check out the website, there's also a writing competition and lots more.
But! There will still be plenty of dull moments where you are trying to pull washing out of the machine whilst being gnawed by a toddler when your hollow eyed tweenager appears in the door way and you hear the wail 'I am bored Mum!'. Don't PANIC. Just whip out the Emergency Toolkit bag and (breathe) suggest an activity.
My Emergency Tool kit is:
A small bag of preprepared cards, which you are welcome to download if you want
Any supplies I will need to fulfill the promises on the cards I have made. If you use my cards you will need playdough, a bag of collected junk such as you might be planning to recycle (boxes etc), a few extra baking supplies, paints, glue, blankets, a ball, dressing up stuff, plastic dinosaurs.
AND a 'bonus' box with a small item in it. You can replace the item each time the box is opened. I might alternate between unexpected snack foods, drinks, vouchers for 'read a story/play a game' with mummy, or little toys like a bouncy ball etc. Doesn't need to be something you spend money on.
I hope you find my attempts of use, or at least, consolation. I hope you have a fantastico summer. Don't be surprised if I hardly blog over the next few weeks, but I will be back!
In case of problems: Here's the link to my Boredom Cards again on Google Docs. Sorry about the duff formatting I am NOT a whizz at Publishing!