Countdown to summer

The sun is shining, the weather is warm… it’s time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors this summer! Whether you’re planning on enjoying the weather with little ones, with friends or your partner or simply on your own, there are plenty of great ways in which you can enjoy the summer sun without necessarily having to spend a single penny.

As well as summer travel plans, theme park visits and other things to do that involve spending money, there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained without spending a penny. Head out to the park or the local woods, enjoy a picnic or go for a cycle – or spend time in the garden as a family instead.

If your garden’s looking a little unkempt after the winter and spring, then it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sun while you get it back into shape. Gardening is an activity that can keep kids entertained too, encouraging them to spend time outside rather than just watching television. Give them a little patch of the garden to call their own, where they can plant flowers or edible plants and nurture them as they grow. Don’t forget to look after any paving and garden furniture too – you can find some great tips to smarten up your garden for summer here.

Once you’re happy with the state of your garden, you’ll no doubt want to show it off… and that’s where summer entertaining comes in. Whether it’s a BBQ, a simple al fresco meal or a full on party, get the whole family involved with the planning and organisation to make it easier for you and more interesting for them.

Your newly spruced up garden will also give you a chance to enjoy a “holiday at home” with the kids, whether you have a summer holiday planned or not. Plan a day of garden-based activities: get the paddling pool on the go, play frisbee or football, build castles in a sandpit. When the day draws to a close, put up a tent and plan for a night of “garden camping” – either with your children, if they’re young, or leaving them to it. You could even include a small, contained fire over which you can all toast marshmallows as it gets dark, before the excitement of sleeping outdoors. Just make sure you’re prepared for any hay fever outbreaks or potential insect bites before the big night.

Finally, if the weather stays warm all summer, the most important thing is to look after the health of you and your family. Stay out of the sun in the middle of the day, when it is at its hottest, and invest in some sun cream that is suitable for the whole family’s skin. Don’t forget to moisturise – ideally with a moisturiser with built in SPF. By keeping your skin protected and staying hydrated, you’ll be able to make the most of the summer for even longer.