With weather as uncertain as the political climate, planning for a British summer holiday can feel like an impossible task. But you know it's worth it. Come mid-August, on the third rainy day in a row, you'll be so glad you took five minutes to prepare.
Stress-free summer holidays start now, with you collecting ideas from around the web that save you money and time. Your kids will be entertained. Your pockets will not run dry. You will be so prepared you'll float through summer on a calming breeze. Your mouth may even twitch into a smug smile as you greet the cries of "we're bored" with yet another ingenious game.
For many years I worked as a primary school teacher. It made me an expert in all of these things - entertaining 30 children at once definitely requires planning. Today, I seek out quality gifts for kids aged 3 to 12. And here, I'm going to share with you some of my best ideas for having a stress-free summer with kids. Let's begin.
Into the wild - Pick Your Own
This summer seek out your nearest Pick Your Own fields and take the kids along. Weather dependent, it remains a great activity for kids and will cost around the same as fruit from a supermarket. It will get them outside and give them something to focus on. They'll learn about plants, fruit and see lots of insects too, and there's plenty of opportunity for quality conversations as you pick the fruits together in the quiet of the fields.
Continue the adventure by making home-made jams and desserts at home. Another educational activity for kids.
Rainy days - Scavenger Hunts at Home
With your kids setting the trail and writing the clues, this is fun way to stretch those reading, writing and thinking skills. You can choose the prizes, designate which rooms they can use and even give them a time limit.
If you've got good weather, take it out into the garden or park. If you've got good neighbours, let it run between your houses. This is an educational activity that will wear your kids out. Get involved and you're bound to bond.
Relaxing easy ideas - The Library
Put down the iPad and go to the library. Check online first (OK, pick up the iPad again) to see when they run Children's Hour - most libraries do this. Note it in your diary and get ready for an hour of educational excellence. You'll arrive, head to the children's area and seat your kids ready for story time. Then someone else will take over. A couple of options: stay and enjoy the moment or head to the grown-up section and find free books for you.
Kids of all ages can have fun in a library. Even if Children's Hour isn't on, they can have a grand ol' time sitting on beanbags, flicking through colourful books.
Take it up a notch with drawing time at home. Lining paper serves as an economical canvas. Cover the entire table with it and ask them to draw their favourite story book characters.
Over on my blog The Toy Hunter, I've listed my favourite games and toys for the summer holidays. Fab, affordable gifts for kids who have summer birthdays or for doting relatives who'd like to treat them this summer. Head there now for more ideas.