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5 ways to stay sane when the kids are at home

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A boy using paper and scissors to make a scrapbook

1. Start the day well

Children like to know what's happening in advance. This is why they often begin each day by jumping on your bed and demanding 'what are we doing today?' If your normal response is to snap 'nothing'/'who knows'/'I'm not made of money', the first row of the day will have just begun. So have a more reasonable reply ready. Even a trip to the park, a visit from a friend, or shopping for a pumpkin is better than informing them that a boring, endless day stretches ahead, with only a grumpy, tired mother for company.

2. Keep it simple

It's a sure bet that every local authority in the UK will have a number of free activities lined up for half term. All you have to do is find out about them. Start by going to www.directgov.co.uk.

Check out the local tourist spots on your doorstep that you've never bothered visiting before. Team up with other mums and school friends. Sharing ideas and planning a day out together is much more fun for all of you. Tip: Pack a bag filled with snacks and drinks before you head off. You'll save a fortune, and stop them whinging.

If you're going to spend a day at home, get out the arts and crafts, old cereal boxes and so on and do some junk modelling - or give these homemade skittles a go.

3. Let them work it out

If you can afford one 'treat' during half term, that's great. Tell older kids what your budget is, and let them figure out the best way to spend it. They may want to go to Disneyland Resort Paris, but bowling and a Happy Meal will probably have to do. This is good maths practice, it will help your kids learn to compromise, and could even help them understand the value of money.

4. Rainy days

Be realisic. A couple of hours watching TV or playing computer games is not likely to kill them. But try not to let two hours turn into six. Most children love cooking, and will be very happy helping you make biscuits, burgers or that night's dinner. Letting them 'be creative' doesn't have to involve your house getting wrecked with paint and play dough. Chose an activity you feel comfortable with ? and you may even enjoy yourself! Go to www.creativekidsathome.com or www.littlecraftybugs.co.uk

5. Boredom is good

If they say they're bored, and chances are at some point they will, explain that boredom is good because it encourages you to use your imagination. Then remind them of all the toys/paints/books/DVDs/computer games/Barbies that are gathering dust in their bedrooms.

If all else fails, remember how bored you were as a child and how few toys you had compared to them. It didn't do you any harm did it? Exactly.

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More help and advice

- What to do with the kids if it's raining
- Find things to do with our Days Out planner
- 40 ways to entertain your kids
- 75 ways to entertain your toddler

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