With the June-July holiday that has just kicked off, here is an alphabet full of budget-friendly activities to do with your kids that will not only keep them busy, but also allow you to spend some quality time together. In fact, you might even get to know each other a little better! (Since our kids are aged 5 and 3, most of these activities are suitable for them and kids who are a little older).
Act out your kids’ favourite series or movies. Play Frozen’s Elsa and Anna; be a pup and save the day like the pups and Rider in Paw Patrol; dance like the characters in the animation, Riverdance. Let the kids’ imaginations run wild – soon you won’t even be needed in the game anymore and they will do it all on their own!
Bake flapjacks. There is nothing like flapjacks for lunch. Pop some bacon in the pan and use half of the flapjack mixture for choc-chip flapjacks. The kids will go crazy for it. While I love preparing everything from scratch, there is not always time and therefore an EasyMix from Snowflake always helps. (I always keep one or two of these mixes in the pantry to ensure that I am prepared for the unexpected kids’ cravings).
Drive to a fun spot out of town. We like going to Kleine Rijke for brunch. Or, closer to home, Rietvlei is always a great option which allows the kids to see some wild animals. We also enjoy going through to one of the many markets in and around Pretoria over weekends – from the Busstop 7 Market to the Boeremark and more. Of course, PLTFRM at Wolwespruit is also a lovely place to escape to and here you can even treat the kids with the making of something special at their on-site Clay Café.
Erect a tower with anything and everything you can find at home. While Lego is a great start, it’s always fun to add other things to the tower too. Start by building the Lego tower on a chair. Then, add additional things like boxes, sticks, pieces of wood, plastic bottles and more and see how high you can go.
Freeze! Play musical chairs or just freeze when the music stops. It’s not only a fun game, but it also teaches the kids some listening skills at the same time. They also learn to resolve arguments peacefully, to deal with disappointment and to practice patience, which can go a long way in life!
Grow something. Head on over to your nearest nursery and buy some seeds. Whether it’s flowers or veggies, kids love to see how things develop and grow. You might be surprised at how many seeds you can find in the garden without even going to the shops! Planting and growing things teach kids to look after their environment. At the same time, they also learn that food doesn’t come from Woolies, but from the ground and with a lot of tender, loving care.
Hide and seek. This is one of the greatest games of all time and can keep the kids busy for ages. If your kids are still small, consider showing them a few clever hiding spots before they start playing.
Identify something in the kids’ rooms that they would like to change. Depending on what they want to change, let them go shopping with you and take part in the transition of their rooms. Often, it’s the process that proves more valuable than the result.
Jump on the trampoline. If you don’t have a trampoline, let the kids have a bag race in the back yard. You can use reusable shopping bags for them to jump with. Or, set up a gym session and do a couple of Jumping Jacks and other fun exercises to get rid of all that extra energy.
Kind gestures go a long way. Make up some kindness packages and hand it out to someone who really needs it. Just on our 2km route to school, we spot at least three homeless people along the way. Kids might be born kind, but they need to be taught to use that kindness.
Listen to the sounds of your surrounds. Spread out the biggest blanket you can find and then lie down next to each other, looking up at the sky. Quietly listen to all the sounds around you and ask the kids to identify what they hear. The fluttering of a pigeon in flight; the swoosh of a car passing by; the bark of a dog.
Make a drawing of something you saw or experienced during the holiday thus far. Use a large piece of paper and fix it to the floor with masking tape. Have the kids draw their experiences and add yours too. It might just end up being quite the masterpiece! Use all kinds of materials to draw with – from pencils and crayons, to chalk and even ink with sticks from the garden.
Nestle yourselves in for a cosy family movie. Netflix has got a whole range of options to choose from this holiday. TCL’s Google TV range has an easy-to-use interface accessible from anywhere in the room with a simple voice command. You can access content from streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV and more from one interface. Plus, you can manage the content your kids watch. Google TV’s Kids profile function allows parents to monitor what content they watch, as well as how long they have screen time. You can lock or unlock certain apps, manage which apps are accessible to kids and share already purchased movies and TV shows through Google Play Family Library.
Organise a picnic – even if it’s just for your little family. There are many lovely parks in the various cities across South Africa.
Paint a picture. Invest in some water colour paint and let the kids paint whatever they want. Archneer in Pretoria has everything you might need, from miniature easels and paint to paintbrushes and more.
Quit cell phones and all other technology for a day and just spend time together. (This one is aimed at the parents specifically. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes when there are no phones around).
Revisit one of your family’s favourite spots in town. For us, it’s either Aroma for their delicious ice creams and sorbets, Parrot’s at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre for its jungle gym (which will soon not be as much fun anymore as the kids are growing out of it too fast), or The Fun Room, where the kids can play their hearts out while hubby and I can actually have a drink (and a conversation).
Sing. Whether it’s your favourite songs from the 90s or the kids’ favourite bedtime songs, pump up the volume and sing!
Try something new. We might take the kids horse riding, give BOUNCE at Menlyn Maine a try, take them on their first proper 2km hike or opt for an educational trip like visiting a farm where they can learn about sheep and cows. Anything that will get them out of the house and out of their comfort zones.
Use what you have at home and make dinner together as a family. Whether it’s eggs and toast for dinner, or last night’s leftover steak for breakfast, have the kids make suggestions on how to make magic on a plate with what you’ve got at home.
Visit a museum. This is something I think none of us do often enough. While it teaches us about our country and our people’s history, it also teaches our children about the value of preserving things in a proper and professional way. This could open a whole new world for your child.
Write down your family’s collective dreams, wishes, hopes and plans. This is a good way to see where everyone is at and it might even help you understand why some family members are acting in certain ways. Our daughter dreams of becoming a performer, which is good to know, since we can guide her accordingly. Wikus and I dream of travelling the world, which is also good to know, since we need to try to include that in our annual budget.
X-ray play. Our kids love seeing what their little bodies look like on the inside. Whether it’s the ear, the heart or their toes. Even just showing them pictures from Pinterest get them all fired up. Now, imagine being a little more creative and showing them how X-rays work! My sister gave our son her doctors’ play set recently, which instantly ignited his curiosity about how the body works. We love the questions he comes up with and will continue to encourage it through X-ray play!
You do you, I do me. Have the kids draw themselves as they see themselves. Then, ask them the following ten questions and then answer those same questions yourself:
- What is your full name?
- What is your favourite colour?
- What makes you very, very happy?
- What makes you feel special?
- What makes you feel sad?
- What makes you mad?
- What is your favourite food?
- What is your favourite animal?
- What do you really, really want to do?
- If you wanted to make everyone on the planet smile, how would you do it?
Zigzag kind of day. Take a map of the city and draw a zigzag from one point to another and another, until it forms a zigzag route for you to take. Do something fun at every stop.