We live in Scotland so there can be times when we go days (sometimes weeks) without seeing any hint of sunshine☀️ The school holidays here start at the end of June and to be honest, I think it would be better if they started a couple of weeks later. It always seems to rain here for at least the first week in July! Yesterday it was slightly cloudy but at least it stayed dry and warm, meaning the kids could get back outside to play and burn of some of their endless energy! There’s little worse than a very active five year old with ASD and cabin fever.
Today the sun is out in full force and as soon as they got up, before they even got dressed, my boys headed off out into the garden. We are lucky to have a good-sized garden with lots of room for all of their toys and for them to run or roam around in. Parks and beaches become so crowded during the holidays when the weather is nice and it can be a bit overwhelming for J at times. Having the freedom to do what he wants; whilst still being able to paddle in water, swirl in sand or play on the swing; means we have more chance of having a good day and avoiding meltdowns or drama. It also means that when he needs changed, gets wet or wants food or drink, our home comforts are close at hand. Another bonus is not having to pack enough food, clothes etc. for a week’s holiday just to go out for the day!
My boys love to play outside and especially love all things water, splashing in the paddling pool, playing with the hose and generally getting soaking wet. These things have been my garden lifesavers to help keep them occupied and help to keep my sanity:
- Paddling pool – we used to have a blow-up pool which only came out when the sun was really in full swing. It wasn’t really up to the job, as the sides were too flexible and J likes to lean in from outside a lot of the time. This meant that as he reached over he would flatten the side and most of the water would come gushing out onto the grass. The solution to this was a hard plastic pool, shaped a bit like an apple. It comes in two parts which fit on top of each other and is designed to have sand in one half and water in the other. Once you empty the water out at the end of the day, you place that part over the sand to keep it protected. We got ours from Argos but I’m sure that there are other similar things available in other shops. (Blue Sand Water Pit – Argos)
- Gazebo – or ‘get the zebra out mummy’ as B says. We used to have two square gazebos which we used in the garden until one got broken (which was actually my fault!) Our remaining one is a godsend. Our garden is south-facing and gets the sun for most of the day. When the sun is strong, this helps to keep it off their heads. This is especially useful for J, as he won’t keep a hat on! I simply place it over the sand and water pits, as this is where they spend most of their time, and it helps to protect them and prevent sunstroke. Ours is easy to put up, you don’t need to build it and attach poles etc. it just pulls out. It was from B&M bargains, though it’s not on their website so I can’t share the link. I’m sure they still had them, or something similar in store though for around £30. There are many around and a quick search found some good prices. I also noticed some of the online deal sites offering larger ones at good prices.
- Swim shorts – I could not live without these with my boys. They have a few pairs each so that they can change if necessary. It means I don’t need to worry about them getting wet and they dry in minutes too. It saves them having to get changed too often as well, as the shorts don’t get heavy when they are wet. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you where to get swim shorts. The ones my boys use have their favourite characters on them and came from Sainsbury’s (which are great quality), Tesco and Primark. I had bought them a pair from George at Asda too but retuned them when I realised the drawstring wasn’t real, so they would just fall down. It’s important to check these things when you have one who wears a nappy and another who’s so skinny!
- Children’s Picnic Table – Ok this is not essential but it is very useful and it’s great for us because they always want to eat all of their meals outdoors when the weather is nice. Ours also doubles as a sand table they can sit at when you remove the top. I love a garden bargain and my husband its great at finding good deals by looking online. Ours came from ALDI (Picnic Bench) so we had to go to the shop to get it but I love it. There are times when J will sit there calmly playing in the sand. Before this and the sand/water pit he would just run around the garden like a headless chicken or spend much of his time bouncing on the trampoline.
- The trampoline – J loves to bounce and he’s actually very good at it. For someone who is less than co-ordinated he does really well with this. He gets into a rhythm and can bounce really high, turn around, sit down and bounce back up. He loves it and it certainly helps to burn off some of his bountiful energy reserves. Ours (Plum 8ft Trampoline) is coming to the end of it’s life at the moment and we’re looking to source a newer, bigger one. If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, please let me know. Remember that I love a bargain!
- Bouncy Castle – Ours was gifted from my aunt after her grandchildren had grown too big for it and I don’t think it’s still sold. This one is similar (Bouncy Castle) On ours the pump is quite noisy but the bouncy castle itself is great for younger kids. It’s really colourful and they get a great bounce. Lately my two have found the switch on the pump and seem to enjoy switching this on and off to watch it inflate and deflate rather than bouncing on it!
There are many more things they play with in the garden, including our swing, a scooter, windmills (admittedly not today, as there’s no breeze for a change) and a plastic bubble-blowing lawnmower. The list is not exhaustive.
For those of you with outdoorsy kids I would highly recommend the above list. These keep my kids entertained and they spend many hours in our garden being kids and making great memories, rather than indoors on a console, iPad or watching TV. There’s enough time for all of that when it’s pouring with rain (more often than not where we live!)
Please note that I bought all items discussed myself and have not been paid for mentioning them or received anything in return.