Half term holidays: survival tactics for weary, outdoor loving parents October 26, 2016 16:48

Half way through the autumn half term holiday...How are you doing? Surviving? Been to every park in a ten mile radius yet? Yep, me too. Just a few days left to reconnect with your little wildlings and remind them that your virtues extend beyond the taxi / catering / housekeeping service they have come to expect and demand. You are a human! You are interesting! And we are going to have fun together. Yes. We. Are. 

Where to grow your insect army

The first thing I do on the eve of the school holidays is scan the weather reports. I find that my sanity is seriously under threat if half term happens to coincide with a ‘band of rain’ lurking over our part of the UK. However, this week, my luck is in.

My boys and I get on so much better if we can enjoy a little outdoor freedom and space together. Stuck within the confines of our own four walls, little spats and quarrels fizz and bubble around the place, threatening to explode into something far messier. 

Outside we are explorers & companions on a journey through a ‘gruffalo’ wood or on the search for dinosaur teeth (tough gig in Kent, but still). 

Here are our top outdoor activities we are underway with this week while the sunshines…

  • Make a bug hotel: The boys and I had a stab at this over the weekend. Those beautiful creations on Pinterest? Hmm, not for us (although we've put together a selection of some seriously inspirational bug hotels on a pinterest board for you to enjoy, including this gorgeous one to the right of your screen!). Ours was a hotpotch of wood, nailed together with chicken wire mesh fastened either side of the wooden frame with string. In between the chicken wire ‘walls’ we stuffed pine cones, twigs, leaves and wood to provide a warm, dry shelter for creepy crawlies. The boys have been making signs for the bugs ever since to point the way to the hotel. Because, erm, unfortunately not one single creepy crawly has decided to take up the delights this new establishment has to offer. Yet. However the boys have been entertained and I like to think that it is good for them to see their mother wielding a hammer. Even if the result was pretty ropey. 
  • Build a camp: So many parks and National Trust gardens are brimming with camp building opportunities. Emmetts Garden near Sevenoaks has a lovely woodland area where kids can literally spend hours building and rebuilding camps with long sticks and branches scavenged from the woodland floor. They love it. Take a picnic, flask of hot chocolate and give Bear Gryls a run for his money.   
  • Kite-flying at the Coast: Or a hill if you are too inland (or plain shattered) to head to the seaside. Kite flying is big in this house. Nothing wears out a pair of little legs faster than trotting about after a plastic bin liner attached to two bamboo canes and some fishing wire. Lovely.
  • Dig for Victory: I used to love my Dad pushing me along the road in his wheelbarrow on the way up to the allotment. However the minute I was there, I wanted to go home. For me, it was all about the journey and not the destination. The familiar cry of ‘I want a wee wee’ could be heard for miles and refusing point blank to head discreetly to a nearby hedge, my poor, unsuspecting Dad would simply sigh, put me back in the wheelbarrow and take me home. No such luck for our kids. The veg plot is outside the front door. And there is some serious maintenance to do. Having harvested the pumpkins, the remaining runners and debris needs pulling out and adding to the compost heap. I’ve got a few late onion sets to sow. Garlic to go in. Last of the tomatoes to come out. And I really want to sow some more wildflower seeds in and around the garden which means I need to prep an area and sow now… Time to join the circle of life boys. Your turn to sit in the wheelbarrow. Bathroom breaks, optional.