The Summer holidays are a magical time in everyone’s childhood, but for parents they can not only be a childcare headache but a time when you feel you are always putting your hand in your pocket. Obviously there are going to be days when it’s unavoidable to spend money on entry fees, lunch and petrol, but if you try and intersperse those days with some freebie fun days as well, it will make it all seem a bit more manageable. Here are some ideas for free things to do with children in and around the Bingley area this Summer:-
- Go for a bike ride – with the TDF sort of fresh in everyone’s minds it’s a great time to make the most of it and spend some time as a family on one of Bingley’s many cycle routes. With young children Myrtle Park is a good place to learn how to ride with or without stabilisers. Ride round the bandstand or up and down the various paths that wind their way around the park. For older children the canal is a great cycle way, stopping off for a picnic in Saltaire and having an explore in Salt’s Mill before turning round and coming back to Bingley.
- I often forget it’s there, but St Ives is a totally free family friendly environment with something for everyone. Park up by the adventure playground and spend an hour in the sandpit, on the zip wire and musical bridge. Have a chat with other parents on the many benches while your children burn off some energy. After a picnic lunch walk round the lake looking at the different plants and minibeasts in your path. There are further walks beyond there but we always find that to be enough. There’s plenty of space to kick a ball about as well.
- Shipley Glen is easily accessed by foot from Eldwick – just turn right after the war memorial – and although it’s not great for pushchair access, it’s fine for slightly older children. There are loads of birds of prey up there too so take a note pad to make a list of what you see, do drawings and inspire interest in the world around us.
- Not too far from Bingley are the wondrous Goit Stock water falls near Harden – it’s great for paddling on hot summer days and taking a cool walk through woods. Start from the Malt Shovel pub in Harden – full details can be found on http://www.bingleylife.co.uk/walk-goit-stock-wood-and-waterfall
- On a rainy day the National Media Museum in Bradford is a good option – though you’ll probably have to pay for parking, it’s only around £3 for half a day and there are picnic areas inside if you aren’t keen on paying for lunch out. There are various exhibitions going on over the Summer and even though the attractions inside don’t change very often it’s still well worth a visit every six months or so.
- Bingley Children’s Centre has plenty of events this Summer that are either free or very cheap. Click here for more details.
- Stay in your own back garden! Set up water play with bubbles, add water to cornflour in a bowl, put jelly in a bucket or make mud pies! Children just enjoy spending time with their parents and you can show that you are a “play expert” as well as everything else you do!
- Organise a mini sports day with the other families on your street/area. Make your own medals to award to winners, have a “mums race” (don’t get too competitive though!) do all the traditional things we used to do as children and finish it off with trestle tables and a community tea party! I guarantee the children will remember it forever!
- Den building is something that all children really enjoy – and adults too! Take yourself off to Prince of Wales Park at the top of Park Road – take a few old sheets, gather some sticks and get building! Tell stories in your den, and take a flask so you can enjoy a cool or hot drink. Make woodland trails and enjoy the scenery.
- Photography – my son is really into taking photos so I let him use my old iPhone so he can do his own photography projects. It’s really useful for developing a keen eye for detail as well as becoming more aware of the world around us. If you can, print the photos off and make into a scrap book – it’s also a good way to encourage reluctant writers as it makes sense to record underneath each photo what it is and where it was taken – giving a reason to write is half the battle!
Also don’t forget to make some time for yourself this Summer holiday – you don’t need to spend every moment entertaining the kids and if you do, you’ll soon get snappy and burnt out. Even if it’s just reading a book or having a cup of tea in peace and quiet for a few minutes twice a day, make sure that you do it as everyone will benefit in the long term.