"I SIGH with relief when
the holidays start," said a friend. "Now we don't have that awful rush to get to school in the mornings. By the end of the holidays, however, I'm beginning to wonder whether the morning . scramble isn't better than trying to cope with bored kids. Thinking of things to do with them is such a headache."
Unlike parents in many other countries we can't pack them off to summer camps, though Scouts' and Guides' associations can provide a useful outlet for parents as well as children. Even if we actually take the kids on holiday it is unlikely to be much longer than a fortnight.
With a family of very young children the chances of getting away anywhere are pretty remote unless you have the stamina to camp or caravan or amiable grandparents willing to lend you their house or permit you to disturb their summer peace.
Holidays at home are the lot of very many families, but there are ways and means of doing things to make a homeholiday, not just relatively painless but even positively enjoyable.
The first essential for very young children is a paddling pool and you don't even need a garden for this provided you have at least a back yard. One of those cheap blow-up ones from Woolworth's has survived our depredations for three years now and is every bit as popular with six-year-olds as it is with toddlers.
The next essential is sand, whether in a pit or not. Silver sand from a garden shop is the best and cleanest answer, though washed builder's sand is a lot cheaper and almost as good. You have to remember, however, to keep the sand supply covered otherwise the neighbourhood cats, not to mention the insects, have a "ball" in it.
Let the kiddies take their clothes off, equip them with spades and buckets and pretend they are at the seaside. If they are young enough they'll believe you and not keep whining at you to take them out.
Taking them out, however, is a sure way of preventing boredom and taking them on picnics is what small children love. If, like us, you try to have the picnic in a place like Kew Gardens or the new garden centre at Syon House, you should enjoy it every bit as much as the children.
The same goes for film shows like the famous Red Balloon, which our five-yearold saw recently at the Arts Theatre in. London. As a result we've now made her a member of the Unicorn Theatre for Young People which puts on all kinds of films and shows at the Arts Theatre throughout the holidays. I also had never seen the Red Balloon and enjoyed it immensely.
Now I am planning to take her to Pollocks, the delightful toy museum and shop near Leicester Square and to the Bethnal Green Museum not far from our home which houses one of the best and loveliest collections of dolls, dolls' houses and dolls' clothes.
She will love it, 1 know, and so will I. And, after all, it's no good taking children to see things you have no desire to see yourself. You get bored and want to drag them away long before they've had a chance to enjoy it.
The places I've mentioned are in London because we live there, but there are many things going on all over the country which both parents and children can enjoy throughout the summer holidays.
A list of events appeared in the Sunday Times on June 30 (Is. from the Backdates Department, Thomson House, Grays Inn Road, W.C.1). This newspaper also sends out a free leaflet called Holidays in London. which includes all the more offbeat museums and places of interest and also a number of day outings for children without their parents. Send a stamped addressed foolscap envelope if you would like a copy to the same department.