Summer is here, meaning sunny days, picnics and having fun enjoying the fresh air, right?
Wrong, if the British weather has anything to do with it!
But don’t let storms keep you inside. The long days are an ideal time to get out with your children, giving them new skills and experiences and making for some lifelong memories.
Life under canvas
Camping can teach children about the world outside without leaving your back garden.
You don’t need a big tent, just a quick pop-up one – the kind you would take to a festival (remember them?). Failing that, sling a big sheet over patio chairs.
Don’t risk cooking, instead, fill a flask with warm milk to add to cereal for an exciting under-canvas meal.
Then, make a list of all the different birds you can hear and read a story from a favourite book. If it isn’t too cold, spend the night outside for an experience they will never forget.
But while the fresh air will ensure a great night’s sleep, make sure you have a few toys and books to hand to help you fill the internet-empty hours!
Summer means the seaside, but candy floss and donkey rides are no fun when it’s cold and wet. However, a rainy day means the beach will be empty, making it an ideal blank canvas. Coasts are breezy, so coats are a must, as are wellies – and don’t forget your best dad socks for yourself too!
Make sure everyone has a big plastic spade or strong stick. Once you hit the beach the plan is to get drawing – teach your kids to write their name in the sand, draw daft faces, create massive maps and make-believe cities, then watch as the tide wipes it clean so you can start again.
While they love the sea air and splashing in the shallows, babies and sand don’t mix. Prams are hard to manoeuvre on a beach, so take the Baby Carrier along to keep little hands away from sand, and to prevent you getting bogged down.
Have a boat race
This is a great one to do when it is really wet. Grab some thin cardboard and make boats – fold the edges up, use a straw for a mast and a tissue for a sail. Colour them in and don’t forget to give each one a name.
Then put your anoraks on and head for the nearest steam. Live in an urban area? Then find a sloping traffic-free gutter which the rain is gushing down.
Line the boats up and let them go, cheering them on if they spin around or get stuck.
Some will capsize and disappear, but one or two will make it to the end. Scoop up the winner and dry it off ready for the next downpour.
Rain is no obstacle
Which race did we all love the best at school sports day? The obstacle race!
This summer, recreate it in your garden or park. Set it up with balls to dribble, old t-shirts to put on, some sort of low wall or bench to clamber over and a long piece of ribbon as a tightrope.
Even tiny children can join in as long as they have a ball to kick and something to crawl over. All the exercise will keep you warm, and the winner gets an ice cream/hot chocolate.
Summer conjures up thoughts of sunshine and swimming, but this is hard to achieve if it’s wet and cold, so going to the local pool is a perfect compromise.
Babies feel at home in the water, and older children are in their element splashing around or playing with a woggle.
Swimming is a vital life skill that could, one day, literally save your child’s life. It also helps all of you stay fit and healthy. It is also one of the few exercises that makes you hungry and sleepy, so pack snacks and look forward to an early night!
Keep a weather diary
This is a way of creating something you can keep forever as well as teaching a whole host of skills. It’s the sort of memories that all those new dad books tried to teach too.
Set up a weather station outside – basically a plastic cup with centimetres marked on the side, a fir cone and some wind-chimes.
Twice a day, record in a big book how much rain has fallen, whether the fir cone is open and how loud the chimes are jangling. Then draw a picture of the clouds and stick in leaves and flowers. Get a weather app and make a note of the temperature too.
Hey presto! You are a team of meteorologists making scientific observations. Come September, you will have a great record of the summer you had so much fun together, no matter how bad the weather was.
Han-Son runs DaddiLife – a parenting website for dads, with tips, stories and advice for the modern day dad covering things to do, health, lifestyle and more. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram.