How to survive the summer holidays

Daunted by how to fill your children's days during the long school summer holidays? We've put together some of Mumsnetters' best survival tips for family holiday fun and games, come rain or shine...

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Things to do outside

When the sun's shining

  • Acquire several supersoakers and water pistols from a pound shop and stand well back. cremolafoam
  • Install the biggest paddling pool you can reasonably fit in your garden. It'll get used rain or shine - and wear them out nicely. ChippyMinton
  • Even the tiniest of gardens can support a den - whether it's a teepee made from garden canes or a blanket slung over the washing line. filthymindedvixen
  • Do some survival training (good ole Ray Mears): get them to pretend they're shipwrecked and give them a few random items with which to make a bivvy. Barnical
  • Get them doing some 'proper' gardening for you, such as clearing a bed of weeds or cleaning a patio. It will be taken on with pleasure by younger kids or can be a way of earning spending money for older ones. Sophable
  • 'Challenge' them to wash the car. serin
  • Give your children a paint brush and a bucket of water and get them to 'paint' the outside of your house. McDreamy
  • Hand them some (craft) scissors and send them out into the garden to 'cut the grass'. Porpoise


When it's raining

  • Put on raincoats and wellies and do some puddle jumping. tortoise
  • If you're near a big city find out where the free museums are. In London, we're spoilt with the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, the V&A, the Horniman... TheMagnificent7
  • Go to the library. Most have loads on. Ihavelayers
  • Contact your council to see what events the local museums and sports centres are holding for kids - there's often lots on for free. ChippyMinton
  • Thrill them with a 'muddy walk'. Put on old clothes and waterproofs, jump in all the mud and get as dirty as possible. Hose down before entering the house if necessary. JackieNo
  • Check if you can visit your local fire station (always a favourite destination of mine!). foxythesnowfox
  • Just go for a ride on a local train or take a bus trip round town - smaller kids love it. tortoiseshell

Things to do inside

Child with painted fingers

  • Make life-size portraits. Use either a large piece of card or lining paper (joined together, if necessary). Draw around your children and let them cut up old clothes and cloths to dress their portraits. Barnical
  • Make slime. Get a pack of cornflour, mix it with water so it's gloopy but not runny and then add green food colouring. Ihavelayers
  • Spend a day making all those craft things that they get for birthdays but are currently languishing under the bed! tortoiseshell
  • Empty a bag of rice or lentils into a plastic/cardboard box to make an indoor sandbox for trucks. Keeps small children occupied for ages. UnderRated
  • Stick some blank paper on a wall somewhere and turn it into a 'graffiti wall'. McDreamy
  • Make forts and castles with furniture and sheets. PinkTulips
  • Let them do their own face paint (then take photos for perusal at 18th birthday parties). TheMagnificent7
  • Pretend to be writers. Staple about six pieces of A4 paper together into a 'book' for them to write and illustrate. tortoiseshell
  • Fill a bowl with soapy water, hand out straws and see who can blow the most bubbles. Micci25Chocolate cupcake with pink icing
  • Make and ice fairy cakes. Or just decorate plain biscuits with writing icing. Giraffeski
  • Invent 'fun' games that involve using Mummy's big vacuum cleaner or dusters. Micci25
  • Decorate (cheap) terracotta plant pots - or paint and varnish stones you collected on a sunny day. osmosisbanana
  • Use your camcorder to make a 'film' of a favourite book. Blu
  • Have theme days. We did an Eygyptian one, where we read some Horrible Histories stuff, did some hieroglyphic messages (code), made paper, cooked some vaguely themed recipe, and danced like idiots to Walk Like An Egyptian. filthymindedvixen
  • Get them to organise a play. Stock the dressing-up box with a load of silly hats and clothes from charity shops or Freecycle - the sparklier the better. If they are older, they can write the play themselves; little ones can act to you reading out a favourite book. cremolafoam


Sanity savers

alnwick castle

  • Plan the next day's activities the night before. If you leave it to the last minute, it's not as likely to happen. McDreamy
  • Have a picnic at the ready at all times, so, if the sun does come out, you can go and have a picnic somewhere pretty and fly a kite. cremolafoam
  • Get a family pass for one of your local attractions (theme park/farm/bowling/whatever), so that you can head there for an hour or two whenever you want. GrowlingTiger
  • Watch the weather forecasts. If a week of cool, rainy weather is forecast, phone round friends and arrange a few playdates. If there is a guest child or two in the house, rainy-day boredom is much less of an issue. Tigermoth
  • Only attempt painting/glueing/baking in the afternoons for an hour before tea, so you can dunk them in the bath straight after. cremolafoam
  • Don't over-schedule. Sometimes it's nice just to see where the day leads. yeahinaminute

Give yourself a break

  • Dispatch child to a summer scheme for at least one week of the hols. And get your partner to take them camping and fishing for one night on his own (ha, ha, ha). cremolafoam
  • Book in a 'lazy day' each week where they have to pretty much entertain themselves and you can get things done. PeachyHidingInTheShed
  • Introduce them all to some age-appropriate daily chores, such as sorting or pegging out the washing. PigletoDeckchair
  • Have a friend over at least once a week for each child. Chances are he or she will get an 'away day' playdate out of it in return. cremolafoam


And thankfully...

There's always Mumsnet Talk when you're running out of patience or inspiration.

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Last updated: about 3 years ago