Helen Skelton: 10 Ways To Rekindle The Outdoor Fun And Freedom Kids Have Lost Due To Covid
Like most parents of young children, TV presenter Helen Skelton faces the prospect of a summer trying to entertain her children – after using many of her entertainment ideas for more than a year of pandemic restrictions. .
But luckily for other entertainment-exhausted parents, Skelton has some new ideas for keeping her sons Louis, four, and Ernie, six, happy in the outdoors, and she’s sharing them with other moms and dads.
She says, “Summer vacation is just around the corner, and everyone’s probably at this point where they’re thinking, ‘What are we going to do next? “because they’ve had a year of trying to find creative ways to keep everyone entertained.
“That’s why we’ve come up with these suggestions – the point is to offer easy, free outdoor ideas to rekindle the fun and freedom we’ve all lost over the past year.”
Skelton, 37, who has partnered with Soltan to suggest ideas, adds: “When you’re a parent you have so much to do, and sometimes you’re like ‘What should I do next?’ – but I hope this job is done for them.
The bubbly presenter insists that parents don’t need to put in a lot of effort to keep their kids busy, happy and safe during the summer, and emphasizes, “I completely sympathize with busy and tired parents – we all have a lot of difficulty. I work crazy hours and I’m here, there and everywhere, and sometimes when you come home you just want to flop. But my kids are behaving better, they sleep better, and they eat better if they’ve gone out and if they’ve done something and got some fresh air.
“I certainly find with my children that the busier they have been during the day, the more likely they are to sit up at night. It is 100% true that if you as a parent invest a little time on your children, you get a lot of time back for yourself. You reap what you sow, that’s for sure!
As an outdoorsy type herself – Skelton grew up on her parents’ farm in Cumbria and often hosts nature-related programs including the BBC’s Countryfile and Channel 5’s Summer on the Farm – he is no surprise that her sons, whom she shares with her rugby player husband Richie Myler, thrive outdoors. “My two are very busy and active, but I’m lucky they like to be outside,” she says.
“These are the kind of kids who climb on everything and that’s why I was so happy to get involved in this campaign. Anything that takes the stress and hassle out of parenthood is great. “
She is also happy that not only were her boys too young to realize what they might have been missing during the pandemic, but they were still at an age where they were happy to just play with her or have fun outside. .
“I’m lucky because my kids are so young that they didn’t realize what they were missing,” she says. “They didn’t care about going to school because they were only at reception, and they hadn’t done it for so long to make it a habit for them, and they were only asking not to see their mates because they weren’t the age they left for indie play dates anyway.
“I feel very lucky that during the toughest lockdown, they got to the age where they were happy enough to play with me and climb a tree and play with sticks and paddle by a stream. They are happier on the outside than on the inside, like me – hopefully this will last until their teenage years, but I’m not naive they are like all children and the allure of screens is inevitable, I guess.
“There’s no point in harassing kids into doing something they don’t want to do, so for me it’s about creating enough distractions and activities that they want to go out. And let it last a long time! “
And those mom-induced distractions will have to last all summer, as Skelton doesn’t think there are many prospects of an overseas vacation to turn things up a bit.
She says, “To be honest, I think we’re so spoiled in this country for everything that’s happening on our doorstep, I’m just going to explore things closer to home. We will be in the park and my parents are in Cumbria so I hope to spend a lot of time in the lakes. Like everyone else, I didn’t really see my parents – it was a trying time.
Helen Skelton’s 10 Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer
1. Become a ranger
Before you go outside, make a list of the creatures you would like to spot and see if you can find them all.
2. Make a natural obstacle course
Jump to the nearest tree and come back, crawl under the park bench, go up the hill and back down. Once you’ve planned your route, make it a game of timing how long it takes you to go around, or organize a race with your friends and family.
3. Create nature bracelets
Put a piece of duct tape around your wrist, sticky side out. Once outside, find pieces of nature to stick to the bracelet: twigs, grass, fallen petals. Remember – don’t pick anything that is still growing. Skelton says, “My kids always try to stick twigs on their wrists to be Power Rangers or something, but my friend’s little girl put a bunch of flowers on them to make a pretty elaborate piece of jewelry. “
4. Go on a rainbow hunt
Go for a walk with the family and find something all the colors of the rainbow to create your very own wildlife museum. It can be a pink petal, a yellow straw, or a green leaf. A painted egg carton makes a great showcase, or you can just take pictures.
5. Learn to find your way with a map
Map reading is a great hands-on skill, so learn as you explore a place you’ve never visited before. Find a map of the area and determine where you are now. Pick an end point and plan your route there – don’t forget to have the map in the right direction!
6. Enjoy watching the clouds
What unusual or unexpected things can you see in the clouds? Can you see a snake, a star, or a face? Find out who can come up with the funniest and craziest cloud creations.
7. Make natural art
Collect the fallen leaves, petals and sticks and use them to make a photo when you get home. You can use the objects like paintbrushes – dip them in colorful paint, then roll, brush, or dab them on paper to create patterns.
8. Build a raft of twigs
If you come across water like a river or lake, build a raft using items you find around you, like sticks and twigs for the base and long pieces of grass to tie up the all together. See how long it floats.
9. Go on a fossil hunt
Fossils can be found anywhere, but they are best spotted near the seashore on beaches, under rocks, or by rivers. Also look for wood and shellfish – you might find sea urchins, mussels, oysters and more.
10. Build a wildlife hotel
Collect fallen branches to build a wildlife den that small animals can use for shelter. Dry grass and leaves make good nesting material, and having a water source nearby is ideal for furry visitors.
Helen Skelton works with Soltan to give families advice on helping children look after the holidays.