We all have that classic idea of how our children should be spending the summer holidays: racing their bikes up and down the street, building a fort in the back garden, or splashing about on the beach. Of course, the reality is a little different. A survey on Mumsnet
back in 2019 found that 43% of parents were concerned about the amount of time their children were spending on screens, with almost half saying they found it difficult to persuade their children to put down their devices. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down holiday camps
and other outdoor activities for children, this year it’s even more vital that children have the space for meaningful, independent play at home. So how can you provide this? We’ve come up with a few ideas...
Get your children to help you with household tasks
As Mary Poppins once said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!” Whether you’re baking a cake, tidying up the garden or folding the laundry ask your children to give you a helping hand! Not only will it give them a sense of agency and a feeling of accomplishment when the task is done, but having another pair of hands will make the task much more enjoyable for you!
Make room for play
It might sound boring to think of play as something you schedule, but setting aside a time for children to play will help to create a sense of structure to those long summer days. It’ll also teach them the benefits of taking time out for ourselves - something we can all forget to do as we grow up! To avoid the temptation of screens, you can create a ‘no-screen zone’ in the house, and sign a Family Agreement where you promise to put devices down for a good part of each day.
The best way to get your children playing is to show them what play looks like! If they see you getting enjoyment out of sports, taking up hobbies or being creative, they’re more likely to want to put down their devices and start playing on their own! Playing with your kids will not only help strengthen your bond with your children, but the endorphins that your brain releases will help improve your sense of wellbeing.
Make the most of what you've already got at home
Restrictions can help creativity. Rather than overstimulating a child by giving them the latest toys and gadgets, encourage them to find playful ways to use the everyday things you have lying around at home. Turn those old cardboard boxes into a fort or a spaceship, or hang a blanket over a table to make a tent
Let your kids be bored!
There are two words that parents dread hearing during the summer holidays more than any other: “I’m bored
!” But instead of being a state to be avoided at all costs, we should think of boredom as the beginning of exploration
. When children are allowed to feel bored, their brains seek out meaningful activity, which can lead them to being more creative, or engaging with activities they wouldn’t otherwise think to try!