20/09/2016 11:38 BST | Updated 21/09/2017 06:12 BST

Failsafe Kids' Activities For Time-Starved Parents

When work is hectic and home life its usual mix of chaos, absurdity and laughter, finding new activity ideas for kids is the last thing on my mind. Inspiration alludes me.

It doesn't help that media pressure makes us hyper-aware of the need for every activity to be educational, inclusive, affordable and easy to do wonder the iPad is a tempting not-so-last resort after a long week at work.

But, I'm also a teacher-turned-toy-hunter. It is my job to seek out the very best activities for kids, and I have lots of advice to share with other parents in need of new, neat ideas.

Sharing is caring

I think sharing is one of the best things we can do, to help us all get a fresh injection activity inspiration for kids.

Do you share activity ideas with other parents? We do it with teething, potty training and tantrums. Do we do enough of this around activities ideas?

I'm a big advocate for sharing ideas and challenges for three main reasons:

  1. If someone has 'been there done that' you get instant insight into what works and what doesn't (because they're going to tell you about their experiences!).
  2. It builds a sense of comradery and connection - a supportive community you can call on time and again.
  3. It helps you seek out potential play mates and intrepid parents who might be up for trying something new.

Next time you're at the school gate or in the park, start a conversation about a new playtime idea and see if anyone has anything to add to the adventure.

Here are a few of my favourite tried and tested activities for a little instant inspiration. These are activities I've come back to time and again, both at home and in the classroom.

Pebble painting - Next time you're out for a stroll, set your kids on a mission to find a collection of paint-perfect pebbles: small to medium in size and relatively flat. Then, head home, crack open the craft cupboard and get creating! Turn those pebbles into weird and wonderful creatures and pop them in the garden to keep the creepy crawlies company.

Sow and grow competitions - Setting a sow and grow competition is a fun and easy way to instil responsibility into kids at an early age. Demonstrate what happens when you take care of something - it grows and grows and grows! Simply pop some sunflower seeds into a pot of soil, water regularly and you're off. Easy and fun.

Scrapbooking - recalling memories and connecting events is key to brain development in children. Scrapbooking not only helps kids remember a great day out, it's also clever way to do something with all those mementos (ticket stubs, postcards and pictures) from recent adventures. A big book, a glue stick, and maybe one or two extra stickers and crafty bits, and you're off. A calming activity, this is a lovely choice for Sunday afternoons.

On my blog, The Toy Hunter, I share more favourite activities and my thoughts on why activities with kids are so important. I also recommend a number of gifts you can buy to bring these activity ideas to life. Head there now to read more.