Saturday 3 May 2014

My Secret Seven: Fun free stuff to do with a threenager

It's another bank holiday weekend and if - like me - you dread having to occupy a toddler who would otherwise be going to nursery on a Monday then fear not, I may have some life-saving tips for you. Over time I have collected some ideas that I've found keep my boy happy - at least momentarily. He drives me up the wall with constant demands to do things and for me to participate, so I've had to devise a roster of things we can do that don't cost much and that are simple to do. Not least as the last bank holiday I had a tummy bug so I wasn't able to do much with him and Hubbie had to keep him occupied while I snoozed under a blanket on the sofa with the cat occasionally checking up on me.

So, in no particular order, here are some things that I find work to keep my boy happy and that are virtually free:
  • A Cocochino / Babychino at Wagamama / Pizza Express:  of course you may well have to pay out for a meal too, but honestly the delight our boy felt at his first frothy milk with a smattering of chocolate on top was worth the price of a bowl of noodles. 
It is in a espresso cup, but they assure me it's just milk
  • Wave at train drivers and tram drivers: My boy loves all public transport and we regularly get a beep beep from them as our boy enthusiastically waves from the train or tram platform - a safe distance from the edge of course. I like to think it makes the driver's day to know someone is pleased to see them and it delights my boy when they wave back. He's also got a friendship with the bin men as he loves the truck and they know him now so they wave back and beep to say hello. It makes his Tuesday morning. 
  • A walk in the woods: We're lucky we live very close to some woods so wellies on and we're off. If it's dry we take a bag for collecting 'treasure' and see how many different (small) things we can find to put in the bag. Acorns, leaves, a stick or an unusual stone all make for a fun tableau when we get home. If it's a wet day we're less inclined to pick stuff up off the floor, but still enjoy the muddy walking. 
  • Parks and playgrounds: Not my strong point I'm afraid. I have a very low boredom threshold so  while the boy wants to keep going on the slide and swings I look like a sullen teenager bunking off school so Hubbie does this one. Our boy loves to scooter there so it's double bubble in tiring him out and ensures a good night's sleep. 
Adventure playgrounds with a pub attached are perfect :)
  • 'Helping' with the shopping: Now you probably have to go shopping at some point even if it's just for a pint of milk because you've made your first tea of the day and there are bits floating on top (yep that was me yesterday). Give your threenager a pen and some paper and let them make a list too, if you use your own bags they can help get shopping bags ready too. Our boy doesn't sit in the trolley any more so he helps pick things from the shelves instead. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a great one especially if you have a local market where they can see lots of foods laid out beautifully instead of in plastic packaging. We let our boy choose one thing as a thank you for helping. Hubbie gets him a toy car, but if he goes with me I get him fruit. I know I'm not the fun one am I ? 
  • Family history: Go through some old baby photos and talk about what it was like when he was a baby. He really loves this and when we show him photos of us as babies too he is really captivated by them. It's such an easy thing to do and the whole family can join in as grandparents and aunties often have their own stash of photos and memories to share as well. A video of our boy as a baby babbling and being fascinated by his own hand has been a huge favourite this week and he's shown it to everyone who's visited us. 
  • Free museums: Ok admittedly these are London-centric, but the Science and Natural History Museums are my son's favourite. Mine is the V&A, but it's not his cup of tea, sadly. This one does involve travel costs, but our boy does love trains, buses and trams so that's all part of the adventure.  Once there my boy can spend hours wandering round the various exhibits and it's so much fun that he is exhausted by the time we are travelling home. 
The Museum of Childhood 
Do you have any fun and free ideas to keep kids busy ?

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