Updated: Jul 18, 2019
As I sit here writing this, the house is silent, the dog is curled up next to me and I'm cracking on with work uninterrupted bar the odd parcel being delivered and replenishing my tea. Roll forward to the summer holidays, and my days will be very different! This is the first year that I have been governed by the school holidays, and it's a challenge. A challenge that I'm going to rise to! Getting the balance right between family time and working (not to mention the house-work), doing my best to make sure everyone is happy.
This isn't a unique situation to me; every working parent has a juggling act in holiday times. Whether you're working from home or you go to work, the children need entertaining. My perspective is from the working from home Mum, so needing things to do for entertainment, but also things that will keep little minds busy without me being so hands on at times so that I can work too. It's all in the planning! My time will be planned to make the most of every moment, to make it work for everyone and, thinking optimistically, having just one or two moments to myself.
How am I going to do this?
I'm organising the heck out of the holidays... It starts with a big sheet of paper and post-it notes for each day of the holiday. We have a few things that are booked in, or continue over the holidays, so they are in there first. Now the fun bit! Looking for days out, things to do and arranging playdates; filling in those blank post-its. I've been researching for a few days, looking for local fun and interesting things to do. Sharing is caring, so I'm sharing my finds below with you, and hoping that some lives will be made easier. I like supporting local businesses and events so most things are based in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
- Milton Keynes Play Association are holding free summer play sessions - pop onto their Facebook Page for details.
- Ampthill Great Park have a family fun week of activities from Monday 26th to Sunday 31st August. They have a Facebook Page dedicated to these events.
- On 15th August Hazard Alley in Milton Keynes is opening its doors for an open day. Event details here.
- The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre has various events throughout the summer holidays.
- We're regulars at the Milton Keynes Museum - there are often different displays and events, and always plenty to look at. The communication room is lots of fun for the young ones, but, in a museum, seeing mobile phones that I used to own does start to make me feel old!
- Luton Town Community Trust are running football camps at various venues throughout the holiday. Great if you need a little time to get things done, and the children get to join in a team sport and wear themselves out. If you fancy tennis instead, you can book onto a tennis holiday camp run by Topspin Racquets at Flitwick and Ampthill Lawn Tennis Club.
- There are Xplorer activities on in Bedfordshire. Explore a park, find markers and complete the challenge. These are all free of charge, although there may be car parking charges to pay.
- The Chiltern Open Air Museum is holding a special event on 31st August to 1st September where you can learn about the legacy of the medieval archer. We've enjoyed going there and an added bonus is that dogs are allowed so you can enjoy a day with the complete family.
- There is a Summer of Sport taking place on the Dunstable Downs. Run by the National Trust, you can go along for free, no booking required, and try a selection of sports. Another place where dogs, on a lead, are welcome.
- It's perfect timing to visit Hitchin Lavender Farm with the purple colour being at its peak mid-July. Not only do you have the lavender fields, but there are play areas to keep the younger visitors happy.
- There is an Interactive Science Exhibition running through until September at Stockwood Discovery Centre.
- Jordans Mill has gardens to explore, a mill to tour and you can stop for a drink or a spot of lunch at the cafe.
- Poplars Garden Centre in Toddington is good for a mooch around if you have a spare couple of hours. You can visit The Works and stock up on craft bits for the kids, enjoy lunch in the cafe and let the little ones play in the outdoor activity area.
Milton Keynes Kids is a good Facebook page to follow to find out about parks, playgrounds and events in and around Milton Keynes.
We will also be going a little further afield for some excursions - the Space Centre and TwinLakes in Leicestershire, as well as a birthday surprise to Longleat and maybe popping up to London on the train to take in some museums or parks.
For us, it's not all about going out; we need to keep entertained at home whether that's because it's raining, we need chill out time or I need time to work. If you need this too, how about trying some of these crafts? Or if you want something less messy, you could work your way through the top 100 films for kids. We love making movie afternoons a bit of an event: cuddling up on the sofa and making some popcorn. Everyone needs some down time! If you have Netflix, check out the best films for children on there.
It's a long old holiday, and costs can mount up, but it doesn't have to break the bank. You can find discount vouchers online, redeem loyalty card points (Tesco's clubcard is great for days out and eating out cheaply) and you can take advantage of online cashback schemes. I use TopCashBack where you can claim cashback on online purchases for all manner of things.
This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, there's no mention of water parks for one! Please do pop a post with details in the comments of events and places to visit in Beds, Bucks, Herts and Northants.