Surviving school summer holidays with young children can be both magical and challenging, especially when on a budget.
One particular summer holiday my eldest Daughter was tasked by her primary school to send a postcard from her holiday destination to her friends back at school. Sadly we had no plans to holiday as there simply wasn’t the budget.
So necessity being the mother of all invention, we invented our own ‘Summer Magical Mystery Tour’ and 20 years later her younger brothers and I have continued this tradition.
Creating Your Summer Magical Mystery Tour
It’s beautifully simple, fun and the budget is controlled by you.
You fill a box or jar with all the possible ideas of days in and out you can do in the summer by adding some spin and imagination to ordinary every day adventures. Then on certain days you randomly select one and head off to enjoy together.
All you need is:
- a ‘magical’ box or jar
- coloured paper
- an ‘out of the box’ imagination
Before you begin, you set the budget for the summer and how many days out, treats or tours you can, want or are able to commit to.
Choose 3 or 4 different paper colours for your budget, 1 colour for each price range.
- Small Cost
- Medium Cost
- Special Treat (expensive or higher amount of planning)
Invite your children to come up with as many ideas of things they would like to do ranging from free to special. Turn ordinary walks, trips and visits to friends, family and add some spin, a theme, imagination. Ive added our favourite ideas below.
They write the idea on your colour that matches the budget, fold the paper and add it to the “Magical Mystery” box.
Each day, week or weekend or to fit in with your families reward scheme – whatever you decided – you announce it’s a Magical Mystery Tour today and let one of your children pick one random colour coded idea from the box.
Then off you go. It’s the same day trip you might have already had, but now it’s magical, it’s exciting and they picked it!
Some of my children’s favourite over the years have been:
Theming can turn an ordinary indoor-day into magic. The trick is to apply the theme to every ordinary thing you would normally do from playing to cooking. Join in on their level but let them lead the ideas.
- They choose a theme eg Harry Potter, Avengers, Fairies whatever their ‘thing’ is
- Together you transform a room into that universe for the day.
- make an indoor den
- decorate with crafts
- add theme music
- everyone dresses up
- watch the movie
- make the foods the characters eat or recipes
- create a quiz or board game
- or turn it into a sleep over.
Much like theme days you turn a trip to the park or woods into a Wild day with a dose of imagination.
We’ve been Bear Grylls and gone on Fairy and Bear Hunts. We’ve scouted for fossils, taken a second hand polaroid and pretended to be David Attenborough, wild swum, Pokemon go-ed, had nerf wars & treasure hunted.
Simply a midnight picnic. Make a den in the garden, let them stay up til after dark, grab a torch, telescope or free star map app and picnic and enjoy a few hours under the stars. You make this as fun or educational as works for your family.
An absolute favourite for mine when they were under 10. They make the most inventive thing they can with a Box, the bigger the better especially if they can hide in it. We’ve had tanks, castles, robots, rockets and my favourite the ‘Box-A-Saurus’ wearable cardboard dinosaur.
Great British Bake Off
Pit them against each other to create, make and bake for each other or friends, families and neighbours. Then they deliver the food whilst you get 20 minutes peace and quiet.
Perfectly timed this week. A day of healthy family competition racing against each other in a range of ‘Olympic sports’ including donkey riding, wheelbarrow racing, space hoppers, obstacles or whatever fun events your kids can come up with. Add trophies, healthy refreshments and score board. One year my kids even drew an entire audience on pieces of A4 paper and blue-tacked them to the wall to cheer us on.
Camping or Seaside Trips
This works anywhere, your garden, grandparents gardens, local or further afield campsites. These can be day or weekend trips if cost is a concern as Kids have very little sense of how far they’ve gone, nor for how long. Setting off at 4am adds a sense of adventure as they sleep in the car so their short trip feels longer! If they had fun and it was different they will remember it and toasting marshmallows on sticks, in the dark by torchlight is simple, affordable fun.
- CluedUp – App based city murder mystery Cluedo style game
- Geo-Caching – GPS based outdoor treasure hunting
- GoApe – outdoors, high ropes obstacles
- Camping – UK wide campsites
- Days out on the Farm – Find farm days near you
So our summers are always fun, whatever the weather and whether there was a budget as Imagination is both endless and free, and yes we managed the postcard to school that summer holiday without even leaving the country!
P.s this summer we’ve added our new game ‘Imagine Dragons’ Den.’