Love them or loathe them (or something in between), the school holidays are on the horizon once again. If your feelings lean more towards the loathe variety, or if you’re just stuck on how to entertain the kiddos this time around, then never fear – we’ve come up with some ideas to inspire you in keeping your beloveds happy these holidays. Pop them in your toolkit and you’ll be ready to smash these school holidays out of the park. After a few coffees of course!
Rural experience at Trickle Creek (6 Hillcroft Road, Horokiwi, Wellington)
Hidden away in the hills of Horokiwi, Trickle Creek (pictured at top) offers a range of farm experiences aimed at the 2 to 6 year old age group. Activities range from animal care, to cooking with farm fresh produce, to good old-fashioned outdoor exploring. At $10 per hour per child, it’s in the pricier range of options, but is perhaps something that can be looked forward to as a very special treat. And with the abundance of evidence available on the benefits for children of getting back to nature, it’s sure to be worth the dollars and cents. The best way to book is to contact the owners Louise and Natasha directly and they’ll tailor your experience to your child/children’s interests, creating a truly bespoke, breath-of-fresh-air experience.
Love it or loathe it? The price may put a few off and it mightn’t appeal so much to those wary of animals (or mud!), but this is a great way to get kids off the couch and in touch with the outdoors.
Monster shakes at Shake (5/22 Herd Street, Wellington)
Monster shakes are the latest craze in overindulgent sweet treats (Zombie Freakshake pictured above). As well as being conveniently located at the home base of the iconic Croc Bikes activity on Wellington’s waterfront, Shake offers an eye-popping range of crazy shakes such as the $12 “Freakshake”, to more kid-friendly flavours like milo choc or orange chip ($7). They also have ice-cream sandwiches, sundaes and smoothies on the menu ($4-$8). Now, every parent knows that it’s imperative for young ones to burn off those sugar-highs, so if you haven’t already done so, hire one of the Croc Bikes and take it for a spin along the stunning Wellington waterfront. There’s both half-hour and hour-long options available, ranging from $16.50-$44, depending on the size of the bike. Or for a free option, there’s the Waitangi Park or Frank Kitts Park playgrounds dotted along the waterfront.
Love it or loathe it? What’s not to love about an ice-cream treat? Though this could easily fall into the loathe category if melted ice creams turn into meltdowns…
De-clutter and Donate
We all know how difficult it can be to get anything constructive done around the house when the school holidays gift you a few hangers-on. Here is a sneaky way of turning housework into a rainy day activity. Encourage the kids to help declutter by choosing 4-5 toys (or less depending on age group) that have made their way to the bottom of the toy box, to donate to a local charity such as The Salvation Army. Box them up and make the trip to drop them off. This can also be an opportunity to emphasise values like gratitude, empathy and giving to others. If this is too difficult for your wee poppet, you can always sweeten the deal by exchanging one new toy for a few old ones. For older children, get creative and turn that pile of artwork, certificates and keepsakes into a custom-made scrapbook or wall display. You could see what crafty items you’ve got lying around the house to do this, or pop into Kmart or Warehouse Stationery to pick up some affordable supplies.
Love it or loathe it? Clearly this is a win for Mum if it means the house gets a clear-out, and it will certainly be low cost. It may not be so popular with those doing the donating however, so incentives are key to this receiving an all-round thumbs up.
Custom Scavenger Hunt
Strap your thinking cap on and design a scavenger hunt for your little explorers to inspire them to get out into the great outdoors. This is another affordable DIY option that can be quite spontaneous and a lot of fun. As an example, you could head to one of the many beaches in the Wellington area and set them the task of collecting or spotting a set number of items. A shell, a feather, a dog going for a walk, the Interislander ferry, etc. Get everyone working as a team and if the target number of points is achieved, perhaps the prize could be a pyjama party replete with popcorn and movies?
Love it or loathe it? An easy-on-the-pocket option that encourages physical activity and team work. If you’re not feeling the creative vibes, then there are lots of templates online to help you design your hunt.
Local Library Programmes
Every school holidays, local libraries run fantastic, free school holiday programmes that are definitely worth checking out. They’re easily accessible and are aimed at a wide range of age groups. Past themes have focused on Star Wars, bugs, literary festivals and storyland adventures. It pays to find out the details in advance and book ahead if needs be, as some activities may have limited numbers. Others may be suitable for certain ages only, and a handful may have a small charge (usually for materials).
Love it or loathe it? Love, love, love it. What a great way of encouraging families to make use of their local library. It’s also a cheap and easy option to have in the back of your mind as there are activities to choose from every day of the holidays.
There you have it! Five ideas that will help you master the upcoming school holidays and enjoy spending precious quality time with your family – which is what it’s all about!
Deborah Montague is a full-time stay at home mum to her three children (Oscar, 5, Isaac, 2 and Olive, 2) and lives in Upper Hutt with her husband Sam. Deborah spends the hours between school runs playing at her local Playcentre and doing laundry. She’s also trying to finish off her business degree, but can usually be found procrastibaking or watching property shows on the Living Channel.
Images: Trickle Creek/Shake