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Family Article

Keeping Kids Occupied

(On the Cheap)

by Gail Miller

Well, happy days. The summer holidays are upon us
again. But how do you prevent your kids from getting
too bored during those long summer months while
they are off school? What if money is tight; is it possible
to keep them occupied on a very small budget, or even
for free? Well I think the answer is yes. OK it will rule
out trips to expensive events and the like, but it can
be done. Here I bring some ideas for keeping those
little idle hands occupied.

If you live in a large town or city, there are a number
of places which can provide entertainment for free.
Apart from parks and valley gardens, which are the
obvious ones, have you thought of visiting a pet
store? The one in our town is on three levels and
stocks every animal you could imagine. Tropical
and marine fish in the basement, (which can keep
kids, and adults come to that, enthralled for hours) all
sorts of household pets on the first floor and unusual
animals on the ground. There you can see anything
from strange stick insects through to exotic birds,
reptiles and rare species. This pet shop takes at
least an hour browse round completely. They even
have a crocodile! (I still haven't worked out if it's real).

have your local parks any added attractions for free?
Ours has a large indoor carp pond AND a butterfly
house. All for free. In summer it is usually quite busy
as you might imagine, however a visit off peak would
be worth while. You will find out about amenities
such as these from your local council.

Do you have a local library? If so then you might
be surprised to find that things have changed in
recent years. Not only can you borrow books now,
but also tapes and CDs and even videos. Also, there
are usually lots of current issue magazines to browse
through. Our town library has a museum attached to
it, all about the town in the Victorian era. There is also
a section on pottery that used to be made here, as
our town is famous for this pottery.

Not exactly entertainment, but entertaining none
the less, is a supermarket sweep. When you are
out doing your shopping, shout out the items you
need and the kids can grab them off the shelves
and pop them in your basket. I can assure you, your
shopping will be completed in record time!

What about organising a street coffee morning.
Pop a postcard in your local shop window, calling
for mums down your street to bring their kiddies
to your house on a particular day. All the children
can play in the garden while the mums have a natter.
If it is sunny ask them to bring toys along too so all
the kids can have a go with different equipment

Organise a Krypton Factor in the garden. OK to you
and I, that's an obstacle course. Put together equipment
to jump over, slither under and through and climb on
top of. Offer a small prize to anyone who finishes.

Have a home cinema day. Before hand, video record
a couple of children's films off the TV. Disney Channel
shows some excellent ones. Stock up on masses of
cheap popcorn and make some juice lollies in lolly
moulds before hand. Pull the curtains. Lights,
Camera, Action!

To pass half an hour or so, why not play Memory
Master? This is where you place a number of
household objects on a tray and let the participants
look at them for 30 seconds. Cover the tray with a
cloth and then get them to try and remember as many
objects as possible.

At the end of the day, all it takes is a bit of imagination
and ingenuity. Look forward to the holidays, as they
are ideal for spending quality time with your kids. Time,
you just don't get to spend during term time.



Gail Miller is author of "WILD CHILD - A Mother,
A Son & ADHD" The true story of a mother
driven to despair by her unruly son, and her fight
with the authorities for recognition & treatment
for his condition. ISBN 1 872229 24 7 Patten Press
She also publishes "The ADD / ADHD Gazette" the
on - line ezine accenting the positive side of ADHD.


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