Monday, July 16, 2012

Entertaining Bored Children For Under a Fiver.

Nothing to Disclose


Right. If you've got children on school holidays or just a low boredom threshold, then this is for you. I can guarantee that by Day 2 of school holidays here, my eldest has complained at least once that he's bored. It's not easy to have to tell your child that you can't bring them on day trips or to fancy child-oriented events because money is tight, so I thought I'd share a few ideas to combat the boredom and crap weather, and they cost little or nothing. No Dan TDM included.

1: Explore. 
Cost: Nothing.
Whether you live in a city, town, village, or back of beyonds, get out there and explore your local area. If it's raining, so what? Put a coat on and take an umbrella. Pack a lunch, bring your camera, and walk for a half an hour. See where you end up and take the time to appreciate your surroundings, be it fields and forests or streets and buildings. See if you can spot something new, then find somewhere to eat your lunch - a bench, a clearing, a playground. We went exploring last week and it was so much fun. I can't believe I've paid an entrance fee into a park before when I live in this area. Find out about local history, or if anything exciting ever happened near you, then go and see the place. There's an old abbey near us, a motte, a lake - Ireland is full of hidden treasures.

Top: Wellies, Wild Flowers
Bottom: Trying to skim stones, Swan & Babies

Top: Wild Roses, Nature's Coat Stand
Bottom: Bacon Rolls in the Forest, Wild Strawberries

2. Join Your Local Library.
Cost: Free.
I think this should be made compulsory in primary school. I think every child should be given a library card in Junior Infants and be encouraged to read as much as they can. I know that reading isn't for everyone, but a love of books is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child. You can never, ever be bored if you have a book. If you're not a big reader of novels (my other half can't understand why I'd want to read stories that aren't real) then pick something that interests you and go research it for an hour. Whether that be fashion, cars, football, whatever - pick one thing and see if there's anything new you can learn. It's free. Find your local library here: Why not have a story hour with your children? Sit them down, do the funny voices, and keep them entertained for an hour while it's raining. Dr. Seuss or Roald Dahl are both foolproof options for read-aloud stories that make children howl with laughter. Many libraries often hold special reading events or fun readalongs too.

Here's our library haul for this week:

The Dr. Seuss are for me, obvs.

3. Movie Night
Cost: Under €5.00
The cinema's expensive. The last time I went, I paid €1.70 for a child sized bottle of water. You can have movie fun with your children without spending a fortune! Pull the curtains, throw cushions or beanbags on the floor, and put on a film on Netflix or a DVD you haven't seen in ages. There are so many good family movies out there - you don't have to go and spend 20 quid on the latest Disney offering to have a fun movie night. look through your collection and see if there's a classic that you haven't shown your children yet. Mrs. Doubtfire, Look Who's Talking, Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Ghostbusters have all been huge hits in this house, and it's nice to show my son the movies I enjoyed when I was younger. 

Not new movies to us, but young children don't know that!

As for snacks, you can buy a 500g bag of Kelkin popping corn for under €2. Add a handful of seeds to a popcorn maker if you have one, otherwise put 2 tablespoons of vegetable/sunflower oil in a saucepan, add a handful of seeds and it'll pop enough corn for 2 or 3 people. I picked up my popcorn boxes in a Euro shop, but you can just put the popcorn into a big bowl and dig in. Added bonuses? You haven't gorged on pick-n-mix, and you haven't wasted a cent if they don't like the movie.

Those are my top three summer holiday (and all-year-round) lifesavers, but here are some more:

Club Lego
Do you have a lego fan in the house? If so, sign them up to Club Lego here and they'll receive a free two-year subscription to Club Lego magazine. The magazine arrives every 2 months by post, and let's face it - everyone loves to get post, especially little ones. The magazine is full of stories and ideas, and you can also build things and send photos of them into the magazine. My boy loves to try and recreate some of the creations sent in by other readers. Cost: Nothing.

Funny Face Collages/Paper Dolls
Get some magazines, a piece of A4 paper, some glue/sellotape/double-sided tape, and let your children make funny faces. You might want to spend a half hour some night cutting out various heads, bodies, eyes, lips etc for smaller children so that there are no accidents or 'I want that page, don't cut that page' arguments. As a former paper doll addict, I still enjoy anything that involves cutting magazines up. If you have slightly older children, paper dolls are a great idea - pick a person from a magazine, glue their head onto cereal box card, then draw them a body. Cut them out and let your children create outfits for them. Many a summer was spent doing this in our house! Cost: Nothing.

Cooking School
Teach your children how to cook a basic dish depending on their age. My boy is at the cupcake stage, so that goes down well with the under 7s. If they're a little older, teach them the basics - a simple boiled egg and soldiers or a spaghetti bolognese is a brilliant dish for any child to know and it'll help them in the long run. You could also try the tortilla pizzas, children love making and eating these. I posted a recipe a while back, you can find it HERE.  I knew a girl at college who could only make noodles and toast. Please don't let your daughter be that girl. And before you start with the "But I can't cook!" - if you can read and follow instructions, then you can. There are loads of child-friendly recipes at - they'll be serving you dinner in no time! Cost: Nothing (use what you have).

Pen Pals
Have you met people through blogging, facebook or twitter that have children of a similar age to yours? Why not get them to write letters to each other? I used to adore my pen pals when I was younger, and kept writing right up until I became moody & self-obsessed and full of loathing for fellow humans. (I've grown out of it, I promise. Mostly). There was Natalie, who I found through Bunty - we swapped letters, tapes, stickers. There was Emma - we shared a mutual love of nail polish. There was Kelly - we both loved Titanic and anything related to it. I had one in Japan, a couple in America - I think pen pals are a great way to gain an interest in the lives of others, and as I've mentioned before - who doesn't love getting post (that's not a bill)?! There are a number of pen pal websites but to be honest with you, I don't know anything about them and unfortunately in today's society (ugh, can you believe I just used that phrase) you could be introducing your children to anything, so I wouldn't go near the sites unless you know someone who's used them before. Cost: Price of a Stamp.

Make a Scene
Gather up as many raw materials as you can, and let the kids get creative. If you live in a rural town or village, you probably have an annual Agricultural Show. There are usually loads of categories for people to enter their arts/crafts/cooking/produce. Check your local newspaper, library, or information site here: I know it all looks very farmer-oriented, but I promise there is more to an Annual Show than weighing a bullock. Shows vary from place to place, but our local one has categories to showcase knitting, embroidery, jewellery, cooking, baking, card making, handwriting, and hundreds more non-animal things. This year, the children were given category details in school and one of the options was a tennis court scene in honour of Wimbledon - that's what my boy wanted to do, despite my pleading to decorate a pair of wellies:

The net from a multipack of Garlic and Essence Nail Tip Pen FTW!

I hope this has given you a few ideas, it's hard to think of things to do when you're under pressure and it's pouring rain outside.

S xx


  1. Great ideas missus, good for big kids too, ie my boyfriend and I:)

  2. Haha definitely! I think I enjoyed the exploring and popcorn more than he did to be honest :)

  3. Nice tips, I wouldn't have a clue how to entertain kids over the holidays. I will be using some of them on my hubby though, you never seem to do tourist things in your home town.

  4. Read this just in time - my nieces arrive this weekend! xo

  5. @Enigma So true. The only time we ever did things locally when I was little was when our cousins came over from England, we really don't make enough use of our local areas! @Emma Great! I hope you've found something here that they'll enjoy :) xx

  6. Great tips! I love them! Might try some out on my younger siblings


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