Half term is just around the corner and it being October, we aren’t expecting the best weather. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who are off to sunnier climates but for the rest of us it’s potentially a long week of rainy days and sibling bickering, fuelled by the tiredness that comes from the long Autumn term. To help you survive, here some great half term hacks.
1. Budget & Plan
Before the week starts, set a budget for the most amount of money that you want to spend on any trips out. Once your budget is set then you can research online local attractions. Take note of any entry fee, whether there are any discounts available or days where cheaper entrance is offered.
Also make note of anywhere that does not permit bringing in your own food as this will also need to be budgeted for. Work out what you can afford and set days aside to do those activities. Then you can think about what you want to do on the rest of the days and plan accordingly.
Research local freebies in your area. Some museums offer free entry to children when accompanied by a paying adult. There might be a family fun day of some kind taking place in your area. In these social media days, most events are usually advertised on Facebook so have a search to see if there is anything taking place near you.
Make use of your local library and see if they are offering any story-telling sessions. Many libraries also have additional resources for children, such as colouring sheets and story bags. Make use of any memberships you might have, such as National Trust or English Heritage. Many of these places will be putting on special activities for half term.
3. Screen Time
It might keep your child quiet during the day but spending too much time on screens will just make your child less inclined to sleep later, which will then make them crabby the next day. Set a limit to screen time and stick with it. There are apps and parental settings you can use to enforce these limits.
You can also make screen time a more constructive use of time. Many schools have signed up to apps that children can use at home to enhance their learning, such as Times Tables Rock Stars and Education City. Or you could get creative and download a stop motion app and use your child’s toys, such as Lego or Playmobil figures, to create a mini movie.
4. Getting Outdoors
Spend time outdoors every day. Even if the weather is poor and you only manage 20 minutes, that’s still 20 minutes of fresh air and a chance for your child to burn off some energy. If your child needs a little motivation to get outside, then you could go geocaching or join the rock painting craze where painted pebbles are hidden for others to find and move on. A similar initiative is the Look For A Book project where books are hidden in public places for children. You can search on Facebook for book / rock hiding groups in your area.
5. Back Up Craft Activities
Have a couple of craft activities that you can do in short notice, with all the materials you need in a box waiting to be used. That way, if plans go awry, you have something you can do with the kids without having to think to much. October half term is around the same time as Halloween, so you could have some pumpkins ready to carve, or try some other Halloween inspired crafts.
If you’re not that imaginative when it comes to ingenious ways of using up your recycling, then Galt have some great little craft sets starting at just £5.99 and if you don’t want to reach for the glitter glue, then why not invest in a Hama Beads set, which will give your child hours of fun without lots of mess (other than the odd stray bead).
6. Play Date Swaps
If you’re friendly with the other school Mums, then try and arrange some play date swaps so that you take turns in hosting each other’s child. Children will generally entertain themselves when with their friends, which means that you can catch up on household admin whilst they play, and when it’s the other Mum’s turn to host, you can get some much needed quiet time.
With no school run to get up for, it’s tempting to lounge around each morning and still have the kids in their PJs by lunch time. Although this might be beneficial for one or two days, giving the kids a chance to relax after a long term, it will do you no favours to do this every week. The kids will get restless, and this will lead to tension amongst siblings. Plus, if you fall into that routine you will be less inclined to get up and go out, missing out on some fun opportunities, and getting back into a school run routine will be even harder when it’s time to do so.
Instead, set one day for lounging around and perhaps make it into its own “activity” with a late cooked breakfast and a film on the TV. For the rest of week, aim to have everyone up and dressed by 9.30am. That way, it won’t be a big shock when you need to leave the house at 8.30am again.
8. Boredom Fuels Creativity
You don’t have to fill every moment of your child’s half term with activities. In fact, it’s better if you don’t, as boredom can be a positive experience for your children. Research has shown that boredom can result in more creativity, as we strive for stimulation. You might have experienced this in the past when you have left the children in the lounge to go and cook dinner and come back to a giant sofa fort.
Tell your children that you are going to read a book for an hour and they have to entertain themselves. Remove any screens and leave them to it. You could leave out some paper and pens, as well as a snack to help fuel their creativity. Ignore any whines of boredom. You might end up with a bit of a mess (sofa fort) but hopefully they will find something fun to do themselves and they will get a chance to engage those creative brains.
Don’t leave homework until the last Sunday of the half term holiday. You might get a shock when you discover that your child has to create a replica of the Titanic using recycling and has a list of 20 spellings to do. Try and get it over and done with at the start of the holidays, or set an amount of time each day to do it in small chunks.
10. Batch Cooking
If you are short on activities for the kids, then get them involved in the kitchen and do some batch cooking. You could either make up some meals for the week, or if your child is having packed lunches at school you could get them to help cook some items, such as pizza wheels that can be frozen ready to put in a packed lunch each day.
If you live on a friendly street then why not get the kids to do a bake sale in the front garden. They could make cakes to sell and raise money for a charity of their choice.