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School hols, how fast they come around. Looking for some ideas that won’t break the bank?

Holidays can be a great time to bond with your children and maybe even let your own inner child come out to play. But it can also be a stressful time when kids can misbehave because of boredom. It’s best to put a little bit of advanced planning into the holidays and prepare yourself with an arsenal of activities to keep the little ones out of mischief.

School holidays are a great opportunity for kids to catch up with friends at the local park or go for a walk or ride during the day. A treasure hunt on the way can add interest - give them a list and get them to find things on the way.

Ōtaki has plenty of playgrounds, and a gorgeous beach and river, where kids can run free, leap about and burn some energy, weather permitting. Take a picnic with you even if it’s cold, just wrap up warm. Or Ōtaki Pool is a great choice when it’s too wet or cold to be outside. 

Head to Ōtaki Library for Lego Club on Thursday, July 16 between 3.30 and 4.30pm. The library supplies the Lego pieces, all you need is your ideas. Lego Club is monthly on Thursdays at the same time for the rest of the year: 20 Aug,  17 Sep, 15 Oct,  19 Nov, and 17 Dec. You can also find great books to explore a new sport, your favourite hobby, or just find a great read – the librarians will help you out – just ask.

Start reading your kids a novel – an hour’s special time with them can be a highlight of each day.

Do a jigsaw – always plenty at the op shops to choose from. This can have older kids absorbed for hours. We get a new one every year at Christmas (the kids are into dinosaurs!) and do a little every day until it’s finished.

Show them basic cooking skills (age dependent of course) – how to make a cup of coffee or pot of tea, how to boil an egg, cook toast, make their own sandwich. Invite a friend over so they can show off their new skills. Make homemade sweets. Hokey pokey is a fun choice, as is toffee (apples) or fudge. Baking cupcakes and icing and decorating them will fill in a few hours of delicious time.

While you’re at it, show them some life skills like making their bed, helping to hang clothes on the line, folding clothes and putting them away. Great skills to set them up with leaving the nest.

Create a treasure hunt in the house, give them 10 things they have to find.

Take your wee darlings on a train ride. Waikanae to Paekākāriki is a good distance and you can walk to the shops for an ice-cream, then catch the train home from the other platform.

When the kids are getting antzy ask them to let their imaginations run wild by inventing games to play around the house. Making a tent to hide and play in, or having afternoon tea under cover always goes down well at our house, especially when they come up with the idea themselves.

Play charades, cards, Monopoly – any game you have on hand to engage them for a while.

You can visit the Ōtaki Museum’s new exhibition about Main Street for a trip down memory lane for you and a chance to show the kids what Main Street used to be like. Treat them to a gingerbread man from one of the local cafes.

Ministry of Health recommends children aged 5 to 17 do one hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity spread over each day, as well as a variety of light physical activities for several hours a day. Kids also shouldn’t spend more than two hours on recreational screen time – good luck with that one!

And if all else fails, play the silence game. Our grandies love it! Practise every day to see who can be the quietest and last the longest.

Plenty to do in school holidays



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