Yay for the summer holidays!  On some days you will detect sarcasm in my voice when saying those words, and on others you will hear genuine excitement.  We’re a few weeks into the summer holiday stretch, and so far it’s been pretty good, but there are already hints of the struggle that may begin to appear over the next month!

The Weather

What is going on?  Did August not get the summer weather memo?  Does this month not realise that there are children and parents all over the country itching to get outside.  No, not to jump in muddy puddles and wear jumpers (I kid you not, Lylah was in a knitted jumper whilst on a walk recently!), but to play on a sandy beach, visit the outdoor pool and play in the garden!  This weather even makes the walk from the front door to the car hard work!  Clothes freshly on become drenched and covered in splashy mud patches, and mummy’s hair expands in an instant!  The rain leads to puddles and we all know kids just love jumping in a puddle.  Which I don’t mind when they’re in wellies and waterproofs, but not when they’re sporting their newest pair of Clarks!

Rain also leads to indoor activities.  Who can tell me what the most stressful indoor activity for children of all time is?  Bowling?  No.  Cinema?  Far from it.  Softplay?  Yep, that’s the one.

Softplay

I don’t understand why soft play centres have coffee shops in them, I have yet to fully take advantage of them.  We get to a soft play centre and immediately the 2 year old runs right into the centre of it, coats and shoes still on.  I then try and extract him whilst he tantrums a bit, and the 4 year old disappears into the mass of children, chatting mums, shoes, socks and dangerously placed toys.  We find a table (rarely), and unload the mound of bags we’ve brought with us.  The kids get released into the wild of the soft play land, and I try to relax.  But I can’t!  Who can truly relax when you can’t see your child because they’re buried in the ballpit?  For me, every soft play trip comes with at least one moment where I get the dreaded panic in the pit of my stomach when I can’t find my children.  They always pop up out of somewhere, they’ve normally been wedged in a  tunnel or stuck in the netting, but those few seconds aren’t fun.  I normally take food to avoid soft play prices, only to be met with disappointment because actually they would rather have a soft play lunchbox.  This, by the way, contains exactly the same food items I’ve packed for us, only I don’t have the Happy Meal style box, therefore mine’s not as good.  A couple of hours at soft play is normally enough and I’m ready to leave, but dragging those kids out isn’t easy!  So at least when the sun’s out, soft play doesn’t enter your mind.

Finding activities

I have spent an awful lot of time so far finding things on the internet for us to do.  Googling local children’s activities at National Trust and the like, planning days out and desperately looking for things to entertain the little ones to avoid too much DVD watching and the dreaded aforementioned softplay!

Planning

The summer holidays requires some planning.  I have had playdate requests, dates to meet up and days out for the diary thrown at me by lots of people, and it took me a few days to digest it all and actually work out when we are going to fit it all in.  I sat down with my calendar and phone, and  went through the entire 6 weeks, putting everything I could possibly plan ahead in so we all know what’s going on.  The scary thing is, only a couple of weeks in, we are running out of free dates!  I had visions back in June of a long drawn out summer, playing on the bikes and doing spontaneous activities when the mood takes us, but in fact it’s quite the military operation.

The Cost

I have come to realise that the older the children get, they like doing things that cost a bit more money.  I’m pretty lucky as I can still just about get away with free walks and making the most out of our National Trust membership, but I feel for the parents taking trips to Theme parks, paying for regular cinema and bowling outings, and having to pay much more for it as their children aren’t under 3 anymore.  The attractions know how to make their money out of the summer holidays, and the desperate parents looking for things to do to fill the days, don’t mind spending it.

Fighting the boredom

Unfortunately, when the weather is as bad as it has been, you tend to stay at home, which can lead to boredom for everyone involved.  The children may be surrounded by the entire contents of the Argos catalogue, but those toys just aren’t interesting enough to actually play with.   So far, we’ve done painting, magnet making, cooking, and my favourite, helping mummy tidy the house!  I’m planning pizza making, biscuit baking, den building…the list goes on, all with the aim of not putting the TV on too much when we’re at home!

I’ll update you at the end of the holidays with how its gone, let’s keep our fingers crossed the weather improves, and we can all enjoy a great summer with the kids!

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