THIS year, Britain basked in the most glorious summer since 1976’s famous heatwave. But while sunny skies are lovely to see, with the mercury regularly hitting 30 degrees, any parent of young children will have avoided the scorching sun. And when you’re huddled in the shade indoors, longing for fresh – and cool – air, how can you keep those kids entertained?
It’s not just a hot weather dilemma and the UK’s usual gloomy climate will mean many parents have to come up with imaginative indoor entertainment all year round. We all quickly learn that the kitchen is a veritable wonderland for small eyes, minds and hands – as long as they’re kept out of the way of sharp knives, dangerous liquids and hot objects.
How many hours have been spent by toddlers pouring and drinking imaginary cups of tea, cutting up pretend fruit or cooking up a feast? Spread out a real or imagined picnic on the playmat or cover it with a few pots and pans from the cupboard with a trusty wooden spoon to let them play. There are also some fantastic kitchen-related toys available to keep small children occupied. Some of our nursery favourites include the cutting vegetables from BigJigs and the musical rainbow tea party from Leapfrog.
If creativity is your thing, then you’ll love the flexible and beautiful toys produced by Grimms. They specialise in wooden toys and games painted in bright colours with non-toxic, water-based paint. Lying on the floor and helping your children to twist and turn a piece until it final clicks into place or build a teetering tower of bricks is fantastic to watch. All the while you’re honing their fine motor skills, while providing low-energy entertainment for all of you.
Then, there’s a good, old-fashioned sing-a-long. Which new parent hasn’t been transported down memory lane by relearning the nursery rhymes of their childhood when soothing their own offspring? Just try to get the lyrics right. Recently, I was happily row, row, rowing my boat gently down the road, only to hear my husband guffawing in the background. Road, stream, who cares? The children were happy enough. If you’re struggling for inspiration, we’ve found Nursery Rhymes 123 on Spotify has some great albums, which many sung by an English voice rather than American, if that’s your preference.
The point is there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors and you needn’t buy expensive toys and games to keep the children occupied. Never underestimate how rich their imaginations are. And getting down on the floor to roll around and play with them may open your eyes to the magic hidden in even the most boring corners of your home.