Keeping the grandkids busy during school holidays

Have you ever been looking for activities so you can entertain your grandchildren for a period of days, or over the school holidays? My grandchildren came over for a long weekend recently, and for the first time in ages, I had to plan what we were going to do over the four day visit. I recently moved into a three bedroom unit in a gated community and there is absolutely no room for entertaining children other than the television and cooking. I have been trying to think of activities where I can keep an 11 and 9-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy busy over a weekend, without spending too much money, but keeping things exciting.

One of the first activities that came to mind was fishing. I do have quite an amount of fishing gear and know that I have bought all three of them a rod at some time in their lives. There is an absolutely perfect spot on the side of the river where they can fish to their hearts’ content. I have four rods ready and have purchased a number of different types of bait for activity. Often fishing is undertaken in small spans of concentration so a back up plan is often necessary.

A number of my younger friends with children recommended different places to go fishing, but the best one was a park by the river where you could fish and include the playground with a flying fox and barbecues. This was a prime opportunity to meet with some friends and have a barbecue and combine activities and grandchildren with no boredom. It seems that flying foxes are popular for the over 6-year-olds and there were even younger children using it during the day. The barbecue kept them satisfied and the drinks flowed when needed.

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The second activity I came up with was strawberry picking. A few kilometres away is a rather large strawberry farm where you can pick your own strawberries or just eat the most wonderful home made ice cream with fresh strawberries. I thought if I took the kids strawberry picking it may keep them busy for a few hours. A lot of farms give you a container to fill and put you in a particular field where they allow customers to pick strawberries. The strawberries you pick however, may not be as good quality as the premium strawberries offered if you buy from them over the counter.

I had also considered taking them on a bushwalk to the local waterfalls or some healthy walking down the beach in the winter sun. There are some lovely walks up in the hinterland with many native animals to be pointed out. A spelling bee on the way would start with the word “ornithorhynchus”. Now all of my grandkids are learning how to spell ornithorhynchus and can never seem to get it right. Commonly known as a platypus, it is a great introduction when heading to platypus territory. This conversation kept them busy while we drove up the mountains, and we picked out a number of Australian tree names to see if they could identify them. They had not known what a Casuarina was and it took some time to identify if it was an animal, plant or insect or what!

I am lucky to have the beach down the other end of the street and this does open up many more activities, such as a good game of cricket with the family, or a game of volleyball or shuttlecock. Often many of the families passing by will join in or have some young people that wish to be included. An assortment of games of this type can also help to keep them busy, or just play tunnel ball or tag.

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We also planned to build some sandcastles on the beach, but got the children to do a design of the castle before they left home and then suggested they go and build it. My grandson built a car in the sand that he could sit in and pretend to drive and the girls had more grandeur ideas on houses with moats and animals in the sand. At the end of the morning they had had achieved exceptional designs and we had a wonderful display of dinosaurs…and then wanted to do something else.   

So what sort of activities do you do with your grandchildren when they come to visit? Rather than go to the local zoo, SeaWorld or Movie World, what can you suggest that brings back memories of some of the activities you did in your childhood? Are you going to take the time to think up something different to the commercial norm and get out there and participate yourself?