According to the oracle that is Peter Levy’s Twitter account, it’s going to rain this weekend. This means finding activities that entertain a one-year-old and a seven-year-old.
Play areas are generally packed and expensive. If you have more than one child, by the time you’ve paid admission, bought a coffee, the kids a drink each and then bribed them with an ice cream in order to get them in the car, you can find yourself £20-£30 out of pocket. This is a high price to pay for what always transpires to be a loud and stressful couple of hours.
With that in mind, I’ve prepared a list of inexpensive activities to while the weekend away. The list is designed for various age groups and I’ve tried to order it so that the ideas for younger ones are first and the list continues chronologically.
1. If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em
Take a leaf out of Peppa Pig’s book and get your wellies on. If it’s raining (or has been raining) there’s bound to be some puddles about. Wrap everyone up and get involved in some messy, free fun! Kids love getting filthy, so be prepared for a deep cleanse when you get back inside.
2. YouTube it
We have Virgin so we can get YouTube on our normal TV. If there’s a way for you to get your kids to see it (even on a tablet is fine) search for the cool bands that have written kids song specifically for Yo Gabba Gabba! My favourites are this one (above) by Chromeo and another about brushing your teeth by Of Montreal. There’s absolutely loads and you can probably kill about 40 minutes by having a mini dance party, my one-year-old gets really into it.
3. Go to a Child-Friendly Coffee Shop
As I mentioned in this post, I’m lucky enough to live in an area where there are such things as child-friendly coffee shops. If you can find one with an area for your little ones to potter and explore, you can buy yourself an hour to caffeinate and prepare for the wet weekend ahead.
4. A Trip Down Memory Lane
What was your favourite book or film as a child? Dig it out and share it with your little ones. Be cautious though, my favourite film as a child was Labyrinth and it initially really freaked my daughter out! Use your judgement, maybe rack your brains for the tamest of your favourites.
5. Plant Something
Basic plant pots are cheap enough and most bargain warehouses will sell a £1 little bag of compost. In my experience, sunflower seeds are easy enough to get hold of and tend to sprout quickly, providing you give them water and sunlight (perhaps a window ledge if it’s raining and you don’t want to get wet). Have a quick browse of Google search results to choose your preferred plant.
6. Bake Something
Baking can be expensive if you’re planning anything fancy. Rainy day baking, on the other hand, is just about killing time and having fun. If you don’t have the ingredients you need for sweet treats (I don’t always) then you could shift it to the savouries and get a (little) helping hand with the tea. Simple things like making a tortilla wrap into a pizza or even getting them to help you weigh and prepare potatoes for a cottage pie. Cooking is a vital skill and eating the fruits of your labour is always satisfying. Who knows, you may have a chef-in-the-making on your hands.
7. Use Your Imagination
Get your children’s creative juices flowing by asking them to write and illustrate a story, or make a small picture book for those who don’t have the hang of writing yet. It helps with concentration and practices their penmanship.
8. 3D Self Portrait
Remember papier mache? It was great wasn’t it? I know it’s pretty messy, but for an activity that spans the weekend (i.e. waiting for it to dry before you paint it) it can be pretty interesting and funny. Blow up a balloon for you and each of your kids, cover it in papier mache and all create self portaits, when you’re fully done, pop the balloon and keep your papier mache twin forever!
9. Learn to Crochet Together
Crochet hooks and basic yarn are cheap enough. I would recommend for a beginner, a 5mm hook and aran weight yarn, then search for ‘easy granny squares’ on Youtube. I’d buy 4 colours of yarn if there’s two of you, and you could quickly whip up a 6×4 granny square blanket in an afternoon. Search “mattress stitch granny square” on youtube to see how to stitch them together, you’ll need a big plastic tapestry needle for this.
10. Master Origami
Again, this is a Youtube search and you’ll probably need to buy special paper (or trim the paper you already have in). Flowers and cranes are the beginner thing to fold, so in order to avoid disappointment, don’t be too ambitious.
There you have it, your list of 10 activities. If you try one or all of these, then get in touch. I’d really like to be tweeted hundreds of papier mache self portraits please!