Kid activities on a Self Catering holiday

So, you’re running on fumes after months of hard work, fatigued from the inevitable stresses and boredoms of travelling to your destination, desperate for some rest and relaxation and, finally, you’re here, on day one of your holiday. But what about the little hunny-bunches you’ve brought with you? If children today have grown up in a world of digital entertainment and hi-tech computer technology unprecedented in human history, they are not so different in one respect from earlier generations: unless there are fun things to do – and plenty of them – expect outbreaks of grizzling, bickering and, at times, open hand-to-hand combat between them.


You mean colouring in isn’t good enough to keep you entertained???

If you want to prevent the onset of whingeing, pushing, shoving, and occasional outbursts of wrestling head-locks – those ‘activities’ that can so easily convert a family vacation into one, long fingernail scratch along the blackboard – it would be wise to give a little thought before you arrive on what alternative activities you can devise to keep the kids from engaging in open warfare. If you’re planning a self-catering holiday any time soon, here are five ideas which might help protect your well-deserved wish for a relaxing good time from turning into a fractious, quarrelsome family nightmare.


We’re a family!

1. Avoid subjecting your teenager to social network ‘cold turkey.’ If you’ve got teenaged youngsters, you’re probably familiar with the subtle and not so subtle signs they betray that they consider you a bit passé, unable to comprehend the complex world of adolescent friendship and gossip. If you’re lucky enough to be going somewhere with an internet connection, they may need to check in to their favourite social network site, if only to complain to their friends about how bored they are. If there’s a Wi-Fi facility, just bring the lap-top along and let them tune in. Agree beforehand, of course, that they will not be able to spend unlimited hours in those fascinating exchanges which, to our ignorant adult minds, seem fatuous and vacuous in equal measure. But expecting them to go cold turkey for the extent of the holiday will be a bit like expecting a forty-a-day man to give up fags overnight without a flicker of withdrawal. It can also be a useful negotiating and bargaining tool, keeping your teenager in tolerant good spirits simply at the prospect of a daily twitter or two.


Take the laptop, ween them off it!

2. With younger children, bug hunts, rock-pooling and cycle rides in the great outdoors can be great boredom-beaters; take a few magnifying glasses and small fishing nets with you (a lot depends on where you’re staying of course). Children often have a fear of creepy crawlies which is matched by an intense fascination and curiosity with them. If you’re taking the bicycle ride option, make sure that you’ve got food ready to put on the table without delay when you get back to your apartment – good exercise builds up a healthy appetite, and if it’s not dealt with promptly, a healthy appetite becomes a hungry and increasingly ill-tempered child.


Rockpool hunting is always fun…

3. Sport involving the whole family is almost always a great way of releasing energy (the kids, that is – I’m assuming that, like me, you haven’t really got any to spare by the time you’re on vacation) as well as generating laughter and good spirits. This means activity on the part of parents who may be convinced that they just don’t have the oomph to do it; my experience is that this is a ‘back to front’ assumption. You don’t need energy in order to get stuck into a sporting activity; on the contrary, you do the sporting activity in order to get the energy, and you’ll feel incredibly better for it. With heart-rates (safely) raised on a regular basis, all manner of impurities and toxins are pumped out of your system. People who exercise regularly are far less prone to low mood and minor illnesses like colds and sore throats, partly because they’re purging their bodies of the toxic, stress-related cortisols which otherwise accumulate in the blood. You’ll sleep better, feel better and cure yourself of any sluggish or slight ‘down in the dumps’ feelings – sport is a terrific natural anti-depressant. So, get yourself out on the tennis court if there is one, go swimming, take some racquets to the beach and knock a ball or shuttle around, or chase after a frisbee. The kids (including ‘bored’ teens) are guaranteed to love it.


Get the whole family to play Rounders! It’s fun and keeps you young.

4. If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourselves confined to quarters for a day or two due to the contingencies of weather, you’re going to need to find a way of preventing the arrival of that unwelcome holiday guest, boredom. Boredom can easily transform generally well-behaved children into mischievous little devils or, at worst, snarling cage fighters. If you’ve got the facility, bringing some DVD’s to watch may help, but again, collective activities such as board games or card games can be a real god-send. If you have one and if there’s room to pack it, taking the Play Station or (especially) the Wii Console along can bring peace and harmony (you can even play virtual tennis, bowling or go for a virtual run in the living room with the Wii). Computer games are fun – and if we’re truthful, if we’d had them in our day we’d as addicted to them as our kids are today!

5. If your budget can extend to it and there’s an amusement park within reach, spend at least one of your vacation days there with the kids; most of the big ones cater for children of all ages but my advice is to bring your own candy, food and thirst quenchers. The eateries on site have a tendency to be overpriced and the food you’ll get will be nothing to write home about.

It might be going a bit too far to suggest that the price of family relaxation is eternal activity – but thinking ahead about indoor and outdoor pursuits (and the ages of your children) will spare you many a stress headache and will get you the relaxation you long for. Happy holidaying!

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