With all the stress of modern existence, it’s easy to become bogged down in responsibility and timetables and find there just isn’t much time left for fun.
It doesn’t help that we’ve been sold the idea that to have fun, we need to go on expensive holidays (preferably in another country), visit expensive theme parks and do very costly ‘adventure activities’ involving large sums of money.
With the financial pressures many families are facing, expensive holidays are rapidly dropping off the menu, but it doesn’t mean the fun has to go with them.
Sustainable family fun at home
Most kids really enjoy doing things, especially with an attentive and encouraging adult. You don’t even have to leave home, although sometimes it can be nice to get a change of scenery and play on the beach, visit a local park, or go and visit friends or relatives in another city.
It doesn’t really matter all that much what you do, either, and it may be mostly a matter of sharing things you like doing with your kids and letting them have a go. You might like taking photos, or dressmaking, or embroidery, or carpentry, or creating gardens. Whatever it is that inspires you might just inspire your children as well.
If you play the guitar, or the drums, or the flute: try a few low-key lessons doing the absolute basics, and they might surprise you as well as having a good time.
If your passion is cake decorating, show them how to make and decorate cupcakes, or something similarly small and quick to do.
Most of these things are, of course, much more fun if you do them with a bunch of other people, so get your children to ask their friends round for a cooking party, or a gardening group, or a music session!
It’s surprising, although perhaps it shouldn’t be, how many children love gardening and cooking. In both cases, you’re going to get something edible and/or pretty at the end, and who isn’t going to have fun doing that?
Even if you live in an apartment, you’re likely to at least have a veranda or a balcony, so at the very worst, you can get a few plastic pots and some potting mix, and get some pleasure from growing some seedlings. One child might be the practical kind who likes lettuces and beans, while another might like nothing better than a pot full of scented freesias: let them choose and help them look after what they select.
If you’ve got the privilege of having your own back yard, the possibilities are much wider: you might be able to get some fruit trees (remember that stone fruit like peaches often grow true to type, so if you get a really nice peach, you might be able to sprout your own from the stone!); grow raspberries (wonderful things, they grow like weeds and produce glorious fruit that can be used in all sorts of ways); have a pumpkin patch; grow sweetcorn – the possibilities are endless. (Just please, don’t try to encourage them to grow spinach if they hate the stuff – that definitely isn’t fun!)
And with either the produce from the garden, or some stuff you’ve bought, you can always do some cooking.
If kids learn young that cooking is fun, they’ll keep on enjoying it as they grow up and eventually be able to feed themselves and their own friends and family cheaply and well.
You’re not just having fun with your family by cooking together; you’re handing on a huge skill. And if your kids want to make toffee, or biscuits, or something else you don’t entirely approve of, don’t put them off too much – if they make what they really enjoy now, their tastes will develop and before you know where you are, they’ll be making soups and casseroles and inventing recipes of their own.
Just for fun, you might like to try a couple of real basics: one sweet and one savoury, and both really easy!