Behind The Scenes at Half-term: A Parent's Survival Guide

It probably feels like they’ve only just gone back to school but half-term really is here already.

After having the kids at home for the whole of lockdown, followed by the summer holidays, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to keep them entertained this time round.

Here are some no-cost, low-cost suggestions to help you make this school holiday fun (and stress-free) for all the family.


Get back to nature

An autumnal walk round your local park or woodland is a great way to spend a few hours and get some exercise.

Whether it’s jumping into crisp piles of fallen leaves, playing conkers, making the most of the playground, or simply enjoying the fresh air, there’s something for everyone.

You can even send your brood on a mission to collect some twigs and leaves for our next idea...


Create a Halloween window display

Trick or treating might be off the cards this year, but that doesn’t mean Halloween has to be cancelled altogether.

Why not visit a local pumpkin patch to pick a family pumpkin or two, before heading home for a carving session? Using the bits and bobs they’ve collected in the woods, ask the kids to put their creative hats on to design a themed window display for all the neighbours to see. Use LED candles inside your pumpkins to complete the spooky vibe.

If they still can’t get enough, this guide from the BBC has loads of other scarily good ideas to help your family enjoy the festivities and stay safe.


Bake it right

With The Great British Bake Off back in full-swing, you’ve more than likely been busy making your own showstoppers as a family already. Baking is a brilliant activity for young children through to teens, but you might be worrying about all that sugar in those kitchen creations.

Fear not. There are loads of easy swaps you can make like cacao powder instead of chocolate, natural honey and fruits instead of refined sugar – you might even be able to sneak a few vegetables in there too!

Here’s a great selection of reduced-sugar recipes to get stuck into this half-term.


Do a school uniform stock take

Having had around seven weeks back at school (unless their bubble was told to self-isolate), chances are you haven’t seen all your child’s school uniform in one place at one time since the summer holidays.

Half-term is the perfect opportunity to do a ‘stock take’. Have they got everything they started with or have some items gone walkies? Does everything look okay or is that a permanent marker stain you’ve spotted? Have they got enough layers to keep them warm and dry as winter sets in?

You can get the kids involved too and make it into a fun game, asking them to get everything out and stack shirts, jumpers, trousers, socks (the list goes on) into piles and count, giving them a post-it note to place on top of each.


Don’t stress too much over screen time 

As reports begin to emerge about the amount of time children spent glued to screens during lockdown, remember – it’s understandable. Trying to balance working from home with school being closed and no outside childcare support means many parents had little choice but to switch on the TV or offer up the iPad.

Depending on local restrictions in your area and the likelihood of a few rainy days, it may be that you need to rely more on technology again this half-term.

If your kids are younger, why not build a den or a fort with blankets and sheets so they can snuggle up inside to watch a favourite film? If they’re older, consider agreeing some ground rules about when and for how long they can be on. The not-for-profit organisation, Internet Matters, has some handy tips and tricks for getting this balancing act right.