After many years of half- terms we seem to have fallen into a ‘formula’of activites to relax with my two girls. I have to admit it has been a learning curve over the years…
In the early days we used to attempt a week away in the UK for the February half-term . This often meant battling with extremely inclement weather. Sub-zero temperatures on a Devon beach as the children attempted to build sandcastles in gale force winds or torrential rain in somewhere like Dinosaur World on the Isle of Wight. We soon gave this up!
The most we attempt now is a day at the coast, only going if the forecast is good.
Our favourite is the beautiful West Wittering. Great off-season as less crowded and no traffic queues.
I also fell into the trap of trying to catch up with all our family and friends who we could not see in term time. As well as combining this with numerous visits to museums, galleries, farms, etc.
We all ended up exhausted from a week of social engagements and cultural activities!
We seem to be permanently running against the clock during term-time with all the school and extra curricular activities as well as the numerous play dates. I found I was repeating this during the holidays.
So, after much trial and error, my recommendations for this February would be as follows:
1/ Catch up with some family and friends but NOT all, you will only wear yourself out.
2/ Pyjama days are essential. DO NOT look at a clock all day long! Let the kids indulge in wall to wall TV for the day and then they get sick of it and can’t wait to go out.
3/ Combine play dates with a day out. The kids love it and amuse each other endlessly. Go with another mummy and you can gossip and catch up as the kids play.
4/ We are members of Wisley and Kew Gardens, and this half term I have booked the girls and their friends to the butterflies in the glasshouse at Wisley.
There are also great arts and craft activities offered at Kew during holiday time.
5/ Pencil in some gentle activities with just yourselves giving you all time to chat and catch up with the kids. And remember, switch off your mobile phone.
6/ My eldest greets a visit to a gallery or museum with unbridled joy… my youngest does not! Non-the less I always try something new with the old adage that if ‘you don’t try you never know’! Inevitably my youngest has a great time and does not want to leave.
This half term we are booked to the bejewelled exhibition at the V&A on the basis that all girls can’t resist diamonds!
I am constantly impressed with how adept the museums and galleries are at providing activities and exhibitions that enthral younger visitors. We have had fabulous family activity days at the British museum where we watched ‘Ancient Romans’ doing their make-up and hair. The curators bring out ancient objects that children are allowed to handle and guess their uses. Thank goodness the days of children touring and museums in silence and not touching are long gone.
Another favourite is the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill – their Dinosaur Monster Families exhibition will have opened on the 13th of February just in time for the half term break.
7/ Hampton Court palace is another great option. Over the years my children have tried Tudor dancing and watched Tudor cooks at work in the palace kitchens. They also love the actors who dress as Royalty and roam around bringing the history to life.
8/ Day out combinations with our friends who have children of different sexes and ages can be a little more challenging. We are heading bowling, as this is a crowd pleaser for everyone.
We also find Clip and Climb in Chleasea brillant for boys and girls of all ages.
9/ Why not try a winter swim in Hampton outdoor pool. Our kids and their friends love the novelty of an outdoor dip in February!
10/ For days out that please mummies and children I would certainly recommend the Chelsea physic Gardens.
Interesting and educational for the kids with day courses such things as chocolate or lotions and potions and lovely lunches with a good glass of wine for the mummies! Very civilised!