Muuumm! I’m Booored!

My Top 10 (practically free) Must-Dos This Summer…

You can’t beat a message tied to a balloon…

Someone asked me to write this blog post and I reckon best to do it before the summer holidays unfold, because it’ll be full of promise rather than the halfway through holidays version which could be quite dark…

The week before school breaks up for summer, I’m split. Relieved that the onslaught of collection giving, school play watching, trip form-filling, spelling practising, times table badgering, party ferrying, reading-record scribbling, PE-bag packing is about to let up. Alarmed about what 7 weeks with a 9, 7 and 5 year-old, day in day out will do to me. And to them, poor sods.

For 7 weeks my job description will include event organiser, teacher, chef, driver, referee, cleaner, crafter, nurse, encyclopaedia, wildlife expert, geographer, astrologer, clown and resident mad witch. My work-work will be done, moonlighting, after 10pm when everything else is sorted. Last week I even made a spreadsheet to calm my nerves — highly out of character as I’m more of a scribble-on-the-back-of-my-hand type.

But I always start off excited. I have visions of carefree days peppered with enriching past times that school in London doesn’t provide for. They will learn to whittle sticks, tie reef knots and make a patchwork quilt. I will smugly celebrate my inner homespun mum. I will teach my children to be creators. To find themselves. To be free spirits.

I know, I know. But there’s something about the summer holidays. You’d think I grew up in the land of eternal summer. Every picture of my childhood seems to be me on a beach, a boat or a bike. I guess there there were a few winters but they were so grey and damp that no one bothered to photograph them.

Living in America as a child we’d spend months in a tiny beach shack on Long Island. My reading books featured kids selling lemonade on sweltering days and idyllic summer camps with names like Camp Beaver Creek. Later, memories of Long Island summers were replaced by ones of my desperate mother dragging 4 soaking, fighting children into a greasy spoon in Fort William for sausage, beans and chips, but not surprisingly those memories are foggier.

Mum even categorised our childhood by way of summers. She’d refer to the daddy long legs summer. The summer I learned to tie my shoelaces. The summer I learned to ride a bike. The summer I read a book (at bloody last). The L-plate summer. The post gap year dodgy wardrobe summer. The crazy hair Sun-In summer. And so on.

So there you have it. Of course they’ll end up fighting over every last chocolate finger and I’ll be one fish finger short of a breakdown. But for a brief moment I’m going to keep the rosy tinted specs firmly on and I’ve written a list of stuff to do when we’re at home and at war. Correction. I’ve written a list of stuff I want to do, Stuff when I’ve cycled, tennis-ed, swum them into submission. Stuff which I like doing or that helps me out. I don’t want to play Transformers Monopoly and I don’t want to go to Lego Land. So I won’t.

Top 10 ‘I’m bored’ Summer Holiday Projects

1. Make sea shell plaster casts. These were a big feature on those Long Island summers. All you need is a sandy beach and plaster of Paris. We used to buy tiny seagulls on pins and all sorts. You make a hole in the sand with the bottom of a bucket (or we used to use an industrial can of toxic-smelling fly repellent!), arrange your shells, driftwood etc upside down pressed into the sand, mix the plaster of Paris, pour it in, let it dry and presto!

2. Get kids to make their meals 2 days a week. I simply won’t enter the kitchen unless it’s to make myself a coffee. This website is good:

3. They flog their toys and keep the cash — kids can work out what toys they want to sell, clean them and sort them for sale. If they sell, they can share the proceeds. Useful anecdote later in life when they’re giving interviews about how they came to be great entrepreneurs…

4. Make papier-mache hot air balloons. Actually not sure we’ll get to the hot air balloon bit but the gooey papier-mache bit and painting it is the most fun anyway. True, this is mega messy but they can get a treat if they tidy up. Bribery — yes, do I care — no. This site shows how to do it like a pro (papier-mache not bribery):

5. Build an exploding volcano. We once did this and it got totally out of control with kids chucking a tub of bicarb, red food colouring, Alka-Seltzer etc but it is dramatic and if you can be arsed they can make a salt dough volcano first:

6. Get kids to put up a tent alone. Succeed and they can have VERY DELICIOUS ‘midnight’ feast in it. Fail and fight non-stop and they can’t!

7. The 9 year-old to teach me to how to play chess. Not sure it’s my game of choice and I’m waaay too impatient but I hate that when I was growing up it was sold as a man’s game so feel duty bound to know how to play.

8. Send the 7 year-old and 9 year-old to the corner shop on their own. If they get there safely they can buy a treat. If they don’t, then this was a bad plan, don’t try it.

9. Put a message in a bottle. Go the whole hog with stained tea paper and candle-burnt edges, include our contact details, seal it in an old whisky bottle and chuck it into the sea (when in Scotland — would have less impact in the Thames… It could reach Canada…

10. In the same vein, buy big juicy helium balloons from the party shop, attach messages (a cry for help?) with our contact details onto them and let them go. Remember when a biy did this and Cherie Blair found it and wrote back to him?

That’s about it. Goodbye and good luck.

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