Do half terms and school holidays fill you with dread of over spending in terms of both money and energy? Read on for my top tips on how to make it work for you.
My first tip is to make a list of all the free local places to visit, and all the crafts/activities that you already have at home. Chances are you'll have a forgotten kit in the cupboard that was gifted at a birthday or Christmas that you just haven't managed to get round to doing yet. Dig them out, dust them off - now is their time to shine! Cut your list up and stick each activity onto a window or wall. Each day one of your kids gets to choose two things: one (free) outing and one home activity. Children love to choose - and by allowing each child a day of choice they feel special, empowered and excited! You could also do this in a lucky dip style (pictured below) if your children are a bit older and more resilient, but beware sometimes this can cause disappointment and big feelings - choose the option that suits your family and the stage you're at, the best.
My second tip is to take on a project together, having a joint focus that can be split into a small task each day to add up to a final result is both satisfying and encouraging collaborative skills. Perhaps you could bake and decorate a cake, or hold an afternoon tea party for a neighbour or friend (your children could design and make invitations, decorations, menus and of course make the cake and sandwiches). You may like to use the time to rearrange the furniture in a particular room, talk together, make a plan to find out the pain points of the current lay out and get stuck in.
My third and final tip is to remember that great things come out of boredom. It's not necessary to fill up every hour of each day with activities and trips, and it's not sustainable to do so! Allowing your child long chunks of undirected time allows them to explore their imagination, develop their resourcefulness and develop some autonomy over their day. So give yourself a break and on days where you have no plans, know that you are provided your kids with a wonderful opportunity.