Nearly a month into the UAE summer break and, if you are anything like us, your enthusiasm for entertaining your small people is waning somewhat. The iPad is being handed over a little too often and the idea of hitting up yet another soft play makes you feel like climbing the walls yourself.
If you are on the same road, we are here to help! Here are our top 20 ideas (10 at home, 10 out and about) for keeping under 5’s happy in the scorching heat. Wherever possible we have made our choices as wallet friendly as possible… You are welcome!
Whatever you do, be it at home or not, we recommend you plan a gentle schedule for each day. Whilst flexibility is important when (ahem), wrangling your under 5’s – having a plan of action makes you feel in control. And let’s face it, kids can sniff out when you are not under control and the results are not generally pretty.
Part 1 – Summer survival in your own home
We recommend leaving baking with toddlers to mummy bloggers and passionate Instagram posters. Whilst it can be fun, your little one’s interest and involvement is like to last around 20 minutes maximum. Ask yourself if the mess and brick like muffins are really worth it.
Here are some fun activities which will leave you and your house slightly less traumatised.
1. Colouring book fabric
Ikea stock a fantastically detailed colouring book style fabric which is cheap and washable. Buy a piece large enough to cover your table, tie down the corners and let your little ones run wild with washable pens and crayons. Run it through a hot wash and it will be ready to use again.
2. Dens and obstacle courses
OK, so this IS a little messy, but somewhat easier to repair than cleaning flour and egg from the ceiling tiles. Break out the sofa cushions, old cardboard boxes and blankets and go wherever your child’s imagination takes them. Our favourites are beaches and ice caves! If it’s an obstacle course you create, a little treat or medal at the end will go down well.
3. “Writing” to family members
Making pictures with a purpose. Ask you little ones to create works of art for family overseas, then take a trip to the post office to send them. Yes, an actual letter! Bonus points for grandparents who write back.
4. Geli baff
A bath additive that turns bath water to a super squishy sensory goo. Yes, it’s gross but kids LOVE it. Often seen in sensory trays and dishes in nurseries, we recommend actually putting it in the bath and sitting your toddler in it to contain the mess at home. Hide a few plastic animals, insects or dinosaurs for extra fun. Available from most supermarkets.
5. Green fingers
Have your kids shop for, plant and tend to an indoor herb garden. Older kids can document the growth (or not!) of the plants in pictures, photos or a scrapbook.
6. Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of everyday objects your kids need to find. A whisk, a pen, a treat for the dog, a ball – for non-readers just draw your list. Prizes for the first to collect everything and extra points for kindness and teamwork! For a little academic learning, add colour collection or counting into your hunt.
Have your babies be bendy! Whilst we hesitate to recommend the screen, there are several excellent youtube channels dedicated to yoga for kids. A great way to get them off the sofa and moving. Just don’t let them switch to Power Rangers when you’re not looking
8. Balloon tennis
A basket full of balloons and a couple of fly swats is all you need to safely recreate Wimbledon at home. Clear a little space for this one if you can.
9. Pizza making
Whilst we’re not huge fans of messy cooking activities for young children, a few ready-made pizza bases, some sauce, cheese and bowls of pre chopped toppings will allow little ones to be in control of their own lunch. They might even eat it!
10. Masking tape floor games
Create hopscotch, a tight rope walk, a maze, giant noughts and crosses or a base for tag using masking tape on the floor. Just test your chosen tape on a small section of floor to ensure it comes away easily.
>> Part 2 - Getting out and about... Next page!