Following our Facebook post yesterday and the responses we received we have collated the Top 5 free things to do with kids. (Inherently subjective we know)
Modern life is full of stressful situations for adults as well as for children: A report needs to be in by Wednesday, the coursework in by Tuesday, the never ending ‘to do list’…. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sometimes it is hard to escape. Forest or woodland walks are a chance to switch off albeit temporarily and just take in the sounds of nature or as some would call it ‘silence’ (although nature is never really silent). Put your phone away and explore. (Thanks Alex Mark Barlow for your nomination of going on a nature trail). Look for bugs (thank you Terry Lochwood for that idea), search for animals, identify birds, trees and leaves. Or if at the right time of year go hunting for blackberries (Thanks Pauline Sutch). I can personally vouch for going off the beaten track. Get lost with your child as part of your exploration and then turn on google maps and your GPS to find your way back. It works and it means every walk is different.
Snuggling up watching a film on the sofa
On those lazy days or the days when it’s not stopping to rain, there is always the opportunity to find a film that everyone likes and snuggle down (under a blanket if desired) to watch it. It may be a film you already own or from a subscription service such as Netflix, which, for £7 per month, can give you access to thousands of films that you can watch over and over again. Watching films together can be a great way of bonding. With children it can be a chance to discuss ethical questions, to ask “What would you have done in that situation,” or maybe simply to laugh at something together, an act that psychologists are keen to point out strengthens relationships. (Thank you Amie McArdle for your nomination of sofa, snuggle and film)
Visiting free museums
If your child is curious or thirsty for knowledge a museum can be a great and fun way to stimulate their senses and increase their knowledge and experiences. But even for a child who may not be greatly engaged in learning, a Museum can really be a great way to awaken curiosity. (Naomi Ainscough-Durkin certainly believes so). Teaching children can be fun and of course they don’t always want to listen to what you have to share but in a place like a museum they may be much more inclined. In some museums, like London’s Science Museum, or the Transport Museum or The Natural History Museum they have a multitude of different interactive elements to get the children physically involved and interested. Throughout the day, it is a chance to talk share and bond.
Picnics at the beach
We are pretty certain that most people have some sort of childhood memories of the beach. Going to the beach for adults can be a chance to switch off and to gently meditate to the sound of the sea. Chances are your children have other ideas. Get down and dirty with them. If they are making a castle, make one too before the tide comes in, fly a kite (thanks Melissa Mensah) or kick around a ball. Even if you can’t afford a holiday, a day trip to the beach can feel like one. Did you know you cannot be any further than 75 miles away from the sea anywhere in the UK? And then comes the picnic. Who doesn’t remember the excitement of a picnic when they were young? Delving into the goody bag that was packed at home. Wondering what goodies Mum has brought with her (yes it may have been Dad too, I’m stereotyping that Dad was packing the kite and football because he did in my childhood). You can even get real sand in your sandwiches! Doesn’t get much better than that.
Baking / Cooking
Cooking can be fascinating for children. Most of the time we tell them to leave the kitchen or not to touch this and that, but do let them join you regularly. Cooking together is all about creating, making and eating. It’s a great way to build self esteem when you can say to a child ”You cooked that and it’s lovely”. Mixing and stirring, as simple as it may seem, is great fun for children and doing it together is a great way to bond. Some children will enjoy baking or cooking in small doses, but for some children you may be inspiring them for a lifetime of enjoyment, maybe one day putting your own cooking to shame. Who knows, this may even get you relieved from Christmas day cooking in future!