So the summer is a mixed blessing. The weather might be nicer but you have to spend a lot of the time being inundated with photos of other peoples’ summers on social media. On beaches. Having fun at festivals. It’s easy to feel like summer is a party where everyone else is having fun and you’re sat in the corner drinking a glass of flat Coca Cola. The other issue is that the summer holidays can prove EXPENSIVE. Just about every attraction costs LOADS.
And be honest- do you really want to spend your family time in Peppa Pig World? Would your parents have done the same? (we never actually ate in a restaurant until I was fifteen – it was a Beefeater – so I seriously doubt it). Here are some tips on how to keep it nice and simple this summer.
1. Go to the park
Yeah dwongo, I hear you say. OBVS! But really – parks are underrated right? We live on a street with a park,which is both a blessing and a curse but when you think about it a park is CHEAP and EASY! Take a thermos (with tea or even a little snifter). A sandwich. A picnic blanket. I even see some parents READING BOOKS (and I want to go up to them and ask them how that’s EVEN possible).
2. Go for a walk round the block
Walks on your own don’t take very long but walks with a small person take FOREVER. We have a little routine three times a week, after tea, and we go for ‘walk round the block’. Sometimes this walk takes in the local pub, sometimes it doesn’t. The thing is it’s a good way of burning off the last bit of tea time energy and injecting some frisson into the day.
3. Put your swimsuit on and get in the paddling pool
We’ve had a few days of heatwave recently and my hair has been permanently stuck to the back of my neck. It felt like the only thing I could say to anyone I ran into was how hot it was, what was going on with this heatwave, how sweaty I felt, how it was impossible to wear anything and not feel uncomfortable. Then one afternoon I dug my shabby Boden swimsuit out (the bum is slightly transparent and I possibly wouldn’t wear it out and about), and collapsed in the paddling pool. There were a few bugs on the surface and it wasn’t quite Croatia but I was happy (and cool).
4. Walk to the Costcutter to get an ice cream
I know, this isn’t a revolutionary idea but it’s a goodie. You can walk nice and slowly and treat yourself to an ice cream too. Just make sure you set the parameters right up front. No magazines. No sherbet lollies or foot long candied jellies. Just an ice cream.
5. Make a jelly
I made jelly with my Mum. Mum made jelly with her Mum. The tradition of making jelly goes back millions of years. The great thing about jelly is a) it’s tasty b) you can eat it whilst you make it c) you open the packet and pour hot water on it.
6. Do a ‘film night’
I often find if I have a hangover I do a nice ‘film night’. Basically this is exactly that but you can throw in some popcorn. The only tricky thing is finding a film that you both like. My daughter wasn’t too keen on ‘Legally Blonde’ (neither am I but I thought it was an okay option for the two of us). I’m now trying my old fave- E.T., The Goonies, The Breakfast Club (is this appropriate?). If there is a male lead in there that is bit of eye candy then win win (which is why THE BREAKFAST CLUB is top trumps).
7. Go to the pub
I’ve touched on this already but if there’s a pub and it has a garden then what’s not to like? Doesn’t need to be pricey as long as you s order Kids Menu for kids and adults (like tapas really).
8. Go in the garden to look for the cats
We are lucky enough to have 2 cats. The cats like to hide. This eats up at least twenty minutes.
9. Befriend an older child to entertain your child
This sounds weird but recently my daughter made friends with a little girl who is five years older than her. Now when we go to the park, this lovely girl plays with Rae whilst I sit on the bench thinking about the big issues in life (or more likely adding emoji’s onto my Instagram comments). I actually enquired when she’d be ready to babysit. Her Mum said it would be a few years. No I don’t feel guilty. Why would my daughter want to play with an old woman like me when she can have someone nearer her own age?
10. Go to Lidl
I know. Going to Lidl is a mare with children but is it really? What if it’s an alternative to going to Peppa Pig World? At least once a week we make a beeline to this iconic retail environment to soak up the kayaks, ice cube makers, novelty Crocs and yoga blocks. I usually come away with a packet of biscuits and a plant (do you know they sell those succulents and you can put them in nice pots and they look proper spendy?)
Summer doesn’t need to be complicated. Forget Mandarin tuition, the theatre, Chessington…just keep it nice and simple and it’ll fly by in no time at all (and I’m the Mum on the park bench trying to wrestle a book out of my bag with a slightly suspect thermos).