12:12 24 July 2006
While most children have been counting the days to the start of the holidays, it's a fair bet their parents haven't been quite as excited.
The school break is just beginning and already the two words you dread the most are ringing in your ears - "I'm bored".
Here, we highlight 10 ways to ensure your family survive the holidays without tearing your hair out or going broke.
1. Don't let them get bored
The B-word is the great enemy of parents in the long holiday. So gather information early to repel boredom - leaflets, brochures, websites, those grinning family adverts in local papers.
You'll never read any of them, but it'll make everyone feel like it's going to be much less dull than last year... or the year before... or the year before that.
2. Take them to a museum
Museums are so popular that in the summer months they're more or less creches with display cases. Since entrance charges were scrapped, attendances have soared. And to their credit they lay on huge numbers of special child-friendly activities.
Just watch out for the struggling actors pretending to be medieval people or whatever. Over-acting and stick-on boils terrify the children.
3. Stock up on DVDs
Daytime television and a loop tape of DVDs? Come on, be honest. You might pretend that they've been on a summer camp with the Woodcraft Folk, but we know the truth.
It's been wall-to-wall Nick Jr and Disney Playhouse. They didn't learn all the words to the CBeebies bedtime song from a woodland discovery trail.
4. Plan a family theme day
Theme days can be a creative way of occupying the holiday hours. But you have to be canny about this. Pick something like pretending to be Victorians (they've all done it at primary school) and then get them living without electricity, doing chores, not speaking until they're spoken to.
And everyone has to be in bed by 1901 or else they, er, turn into an Edwardian.
5. Enrol them in a temporary course
Acting, dancing, arts and crafts, football skills, languages, sailing... the list of courses is endless. Children get self-confidence and a certificate, you get a day off and the bill.
6. Take long summer walks
Long walks can be a surprise holiday success. Children these days are so lazy that they're more or less born with casters where their feet should be.
So long walks have a number of benefits... they make children healthier, they fall asleep quicker, it costs nothing, and they might even like it.
7. Feed their creative impulses
Cardboard, scissors, boxes which can be turned into a Barbie dressing table... it's always a popular move when you get that Tony Hart vibe and start making things. This will consume industrial quantities of paint, paper and patience.
The downside is that you'll have to throw away your whole house at the end (quicker and cheaper than trying to clear up), but it'll have kept them busy for the day.
8. Take them to a theme park
Spend it in queues. Otherwise known as the "amusement park". The odd thing is that children have a much higher tolerance threshold for queuing than adults.
9. Arrange regular day trips
Day trips are a holiday highlight. Castles, stately homes, safari parks, the seaside. But you might have to use your PR skills. Disguise a duty call to the relatives as a magical mystery tour, they won't rumble you until it's too late.
10. Make them laugh
Hilarious? You betcha. How could they be bored with such a hilarious parent? So show them how funny you are with a top gag. Try this one when you're queuing up at the ice cream van.
You: We're lucky to still have ice cream vans round here after what happened.
Impressionable child: Why?
You: The last driver was found dead. His body was still in the van, covered in strawberry sauce and chocolate sprinkles.
Impressionable child: What happened?
You: Police think he must have topped himself.
Source: BBC, This Is Travel
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