The summer holidays are over, the weather's changing and it’s the start of a new school year. But the pressure to keep the kids entertained at the weekends and during half terms is still enough to keep you awake at night.
Research has shown that almost two-thirds of parents struggle to find something the whole family likes doing1, while, over the summer months, parents will have already spent a staggering £1,500 keeping youngsters occupied.
Anna Yusuf, a coach and Nostalgia Games, Drama and Play instructor at ParkLives, which delivers a year-long programme of free activities, is an expert when it comes to having fun on a budget.
1. Make a to-do list
Get everyone in the family to make a list of activities they’d like to do and then share those lists with one another. Work out what will be possible to do together as family and vote for your favourite suggestions. A great way to find something that everyone wants to do.
2. Visit the great outdoors
Whatever the weather, getting everyone outside in the back garden or your local park is a sure fire winner. Getting active outdoors is proven to be good for body and mind alike, helping to reduce stress and improve wellbeing.
3. Try something new
Trying a new sport or activity for the first time helps to get the whole family interested, especially as you’ll all be learning together. For inspiration visit National Trust, ParkLives, National Parks and Love Parks, which all offer suggestions for free and fun activities to do.
4. Share your favourite game
We all had favourite games growing up but some of these games are being lost over time. In fact, our research showed that just a third (31%) of children play hopscotch today compared to three quarters (71%) of adults who played growing up. Similarly less than a third (32%) of children play rounders and only a quarter (24%) play ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ So try teaching your children one of your favourite games growing up.
5. Travel from A to B
Think about the journeys you’re due to make as a family and see if they can be made on foot, roller-skates, bikes or scooters - just be sure to check the weather forecast first! It could be as simple as a walk to the local shop or taking a bike ride to a friend’s house, but thinking of new ways to get from A to B is a good way to be more active, without even noticing!
6. Explore what’s on your doorstep
There can be a lot of pressure on parents to organise exciting trips and excursions, many of which take time to organise and aren’t cheap. Find out what’s on in your local area instead. Local Authority websites are a great source of information and list lots of free and fun activities taking place in the local area.
If you’ve got local green spaces nearby, then taking the family out to look for insects or on a treasure hunt to spot interesting items and landmarks can be a great way to get everyone out on a walk. ParkLives runs a number of sessions developed especially for families, with a range of activities on offer including hula hoops, skipping, nature trails and lots more.
7. Love your park
Nearly three quarters (72%) of parents told us being more active in their local park would make them happier. So what are you waiting for? Check out what events are happening in your area you can go along to.
8. Get everyone involved
Get a big group together at the park and have a game of football or rounders. Use it as an opportunity to bring together family, friends and neighbours and invite them down for some friendly competition. Share the load of the organising by asking everyone to bring a picnic item and make a day of it. You could even set up a family Olympics, with each family member competing in events like hula hooping and skipping.
1 Research commissioned by