It ain’t over ’til it’s over, right?
With a few more days left of the half-term break and Halloween still to come, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been doing, and have planned, to keep the kids entertained and screentime to a minimum…
This is one of our favourite places to visit in London, followed closely by the Science Museum, which conveniently is right next door! The museum is free and there is loads for kids to see and do, especially in school holidays when extra activities are laid on. No prizes for guessing which is our favourite area of the museum! Of course it’s the DINOSAURS! A trip to the Natural History Museum is one of those rare activities that I find entertains both the 9 year old and the toddler which makes it firm favourite and a winner all round.
I have been promising to take Oisin to see this since it came out so this half-term I was determined to make it happen. We went to the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square (love a date night a with my big boy!) and filled a tub with pick and mix before going in – a prerequisite to any good cinema trip I think. The film was AWESOME and I’m not sure who loved it more. The BFG was one of my favourite stories as a child and now Oisin is reading the Roald Dahl book himself which is really lovely.
Going to the cinema in central London meant there was lots more to see besides just the film. After we came out we got to see a performance artist dancing magically with a ball, which sounds bizarre but was absolutely mesmerising. We also went for a little ride on a rickshaw which was only the BEST THING EVER!! Totally recommend doing this if you are in London. Don’t know why I waited 30 years to do it.
Eating out with the kids
Whilst in London we went to Carluccio’s on Fulham Road where kids get a 3 course meal with drink for £1 during half-term. (Adults have to be eating from the main menu to qualify). This makes it a super reasonable way to eat out with the whole family and since the whole family are fans of pasta-based meals it was a win-win situation. I also know that kids eat for free at Jamie Oliver’s restaurants during half-term and I’m pretty sure others are offering similar deals so there’s sure to be something out there to whet your appetite.
Big Family Catch-Ups
I took the opportunity to visit my cousins whilst we were up in London; between the three of us we have 7 children – 6 boys and 1 girl (Poor Poppy!)! It’s mayhem as you can imagine but heartwarming to see a new generation playing together just as we did when we were kids. I think half-term holidays are a good opportunity to catch up with extended family that don’t live on your doorstep. Often it’s also an opportunity to visit a different part of the country!
Probably (or rather definitely) the highlight of the week so far! We have talked about going for so long that even Arlo regularly says “Pep. Pig. Wuld.’ I know the pig gets a lot of haters but I freaking LOVE Peppa. I’ve never actually watched a single episode in full but Arlo has probably watched every episode ten times over (I have two babies with a 15 month age gap and a business to run!). Peppa literally saves my life, or at least me from having a breakdown, on a daily basis and that’s without mentioning the joy she brings to the annual long haul south-of-France-and-back campervan journey. We have all the heart eyes for Peppa and George in this family.
Initially I thought a visit to the home of Peppa would just be for Arlo’s benefit and I couldn’t wait to see his little face when we arrived. He already borderline hyperventilates with excitement every time he spots any Peppa or George! However having been I can tell you that there is so much more to Peppa Pig World or Paultons theme park than I realised. Peppa Pig World is in fact just a tiny part of the park and your entry ticket gives you access to it all! We spent a whole day there but could easily have done another. We split our time between Peppa Pig World and Lost Kingdom (which is basically a dinosaur world) and we didn’t even manage to do all the rides in those two areas of the park.
Oisin loved the visit as much as Arlo which was unexpected. In fact the whole family did! Foxy went on some rides and squealed/grunted with excitement whilst flapping his fat little fists and James and I rode a rollercoaster with Oisin and screamed ourselves silly! (YES YOU SCREAMED TOO JAMES!). There really was something for all ages and we will most definitely be going back soon.
Long live the Pig!
Yes I got screwed in the gift shop and we now have a gigantic soft toy version of George.
This is perfect for those who would love to have a dog but can’t commit to actually owning one, which is basically us. If you’ve got a friend who is going away and needs their dog minding, you could save them putting their pup in a kennel and benefit from having the temporary loan of him/her.
We currently have a gorgeous beagle with us for 2 days called Molly. She is the dream! So good natured and docile with the kids. It’s amazing how they just know isn’t it?? She’s happy to jump up on James and I and play fight but she’s not once jumped on Arlo or Foxy. We’ve loved having cuddles and taking her for walks. Having her stay has forced us get out of the house and go for pretend Bear hunts (walks) in the woods. Autumn is my favourite time of year so I’ve loved being out in nature admiring all the incredible colours. Also it’s so cute how dogs like to be near people – Molly just follows us round the house and settles in whichever room we are in. It’s also nice for me to have another girl in the house! We’re definitely going to miss her when she goes home.
Dubbed ‘Devon’s friendliest day out’ (no idea how they measure that?!), Pennywell is without a doubt our favourite attraction to visit in the South West. I’m beyond excited about becoming a season ticket holder next year! Especially because in the Spring all the baby animals are born which makes it the best time to go in my opinion.
I could write an essay on why Pennywell is so amazing but essentially it’s a farm and every half hour the farmyard bell is rung to signal the start of a new activity; bottle-feeding lambs, milking goats, collecting eggs, pampering miniature piglets – we’ve done it all! The season runs until the 30th October so we plan on paying the farm one last visit tomorrow. Pennywell will then reopen again in February for the 2017 season although there are some special Christmas events, including a live nativity in the barn, scheduled before then. Check out the website for more details if you’ll be in Devon over the Christmas period.
Arty Crafty Activities
And then because you can’t be out and about all day every day, here’s a few ideas for some home-based and wholesome activities!
First up we’ve got Trunkaroo! What an invention!!!!! Trunkaroo is basically a box of educational (but fun!) craft activities for kids to do. Best of all the box contains absolutely everything you need to complete the activities, down to the child-friendly scissors. Perfect if you don’t have an organised and extensive crafts cupboard.
If you visit the website you can subscribe and that way you’ll be sent a new box every month (each one has a different theme and a number of activities included) or you can buy a one off special like I’ve got this half-term for Halloween.
Today because I’m in my office (ahhh I have an actual office and not just a bit of floor space!!!) with a load of work to do, it’s a perfect day to crack open the Trunkaroo. Although the website says Trunkaroo is for kids aged 3-8, my eldest is 9 and he’s still a big fan! It’s also suitable for much younger children although they may need some support in completing the activities.
Other crafty activities we plan on doing over the weekend include carving the obligatory pumpkin (although may try a pineapple as well this year!) and perfecting the Halloween costumes for Monday night’s annual trick or treating session. If you need some inspo for kids costumes check out these amazing ideas from the queen of craft; Emma over at Ladyland.
Cooking with the kids
Cooking with the kids is a great activity if you can face it because it enables you merge entertaining the children with making dinner, which has the potential to save time and leave you feeling very productive.
You may already know I’m a big fan of the folks at Little Dish who make the kid-friendly ready meals and sent me this amazing half term survival kit recently…
In all honesty I don’t think we’d have managed the recent house move / relocation without them, or at least not without our kids becoming malnourished. When you’re time-poor and need to dish something quick up, it’s nice to have an alternative to fish fingers that doesn’t feel totally awful. The ready meals might not be freshly made but the people at Little Dish are committed to making healthy meals for little people so although I’m no nutritional expert I feel ok with giving mine their stuff. They also make Go Go biscuits (see above) which are awesome.
Now the reason I’m mentioning them here is because they also have a cookbook which is full of recipes (101 to be precise) for meals that the whole family can enjoy but are made with little people in mind. So when it comes to cooking with the kids as an activity, I just let Oisin choose some meals from the book that take his fancy and we then attempt to make them. Also as an added bonus, you might find your children are more likely to eat their dinner when they’ve chosen it and have played a part in making in it. No guarantees though. You can also find loads of Little Dish recipes on their website.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve been up to with the kids so far this half-term and what we’ve got planned! There are still at least 3 days left before the kids go back to school so muster up that last scrap of energy Mamas, you’re at the final hurdle, you’ve almost made it!! GOOD LUCK!