My kids are back to school this week after 12 weeks of me providing them with constant high-octane entertainment. *Not strictly true, there were some elements of delegation. **OK there was a lot of that. But hey, we did some shizzle people, as did most people. We went places, saw stuff, crossed continents, road-tripped, theme parked, steam rallied and beached.

But here’s the thing, not all of the things I think my kids are going to remember actually cost anything or much at all.

OK it’s a cliché. OK, I’m here saying the best things in life are free. OK, that’s easy when they also went to a Theme Park with a 50 quid entry price. But, who cares? I’m standing by this and putting forward my case to you via 6 little examples thus:

  1. Fishing in a creek

“I want to take your kids fishing in the creek behind our house,” said my friend Crystal. “OK,” said I. And so that happened. OK, this was free to me because Crystal provided rods, worms and an awesome cart to drag it all to the creek, but the point is, the kids were transfixed. It turned out they were pretty effective at catching fish – we were banking on more anticipation time, but still they loved it, were out in nature and were learning a skill that would be of use should they find themselves survivors of an apocalypse

(*Not a radiation one, gah… just watched Chernobyl… OMG).

C0AEE0AB-3EC3-4013-8C45-5EFF427B0F7F

  1. Having lots of kids over

There was one day this summer when without any specific pre-planning a large number of kids of varying ages seemed to end up at our house. With very little input from me there ended up being a dance recital, a pool picnic, running in aimless circles – OK my daughter decided to coat her entire hands in nail varnish – but hey, that was OK, my friend Quez was en route via Walgreens and she sorted that. (Nail varnish remover: cost incurred).

So, for any future school holidays, should anyone want to send me their kids, I think I’m up for it (bring acetone).

IMG_4617 2

3.  Picking fruit

Having seen a few Facebook posts of people doing this and combining it with my own lovely strawberry picking memories, I took my kids to “pick our own”. Oh my days, those strawberries. *We didn’t eat them while picking, oh no, nobody EVER does that. But, despite doing something that was effectively farm labour, my kids were completely happy and immersed. I reckon farms should start doing Combine Harvester rides, do I see a time when all farm work could be done by mild manipulation of under 10s.

PS.  4 punnets actually cost about 20 quid but that wasn’t part of it.

5AAB27A1-3F5E-4905-8C6A-5D464BDDB02A

4.  Playing in a water feature created by nature

Yes there are some great water parks and pools around with lockers, showers, and shops selling goggles. There are also stretches of water created entirely by nature, surrounded by nothing but grass, rocks and trees. I’m thinking I have proof that for kids up to 8 years old, the resulting happiness is equal.

887BD3C9-1735-47AB-96DD-F780A7071E01

  1. Just wandering around a city

One afternoon we arranged to meet up in London with some friends we hadn’t seen in a while. At one point our plan was to visit a number of tourist attractions, but hey, it was the Dads who were leading the planning arrangements, so we ended up with nothing planned but the train ride in. Dads for the win though, coz actually we didn’t need anything. We met at Borough market, walked past the Golden Hinde and back along the South Bank. The 4 kids managed to plan, rehearse and perform a show, outshone buskers outside the Tate Modern and formulate a spy level plan to crack into the toilets in the Globe theatre. Admission charges incurred: NONE.

409E5CEE-8876-47D2-A62C-397BF09E5A7B

6.  Playing with a hosepipe/washing a car

I’m realising here that much of this post is about things that are actually work.  Is this a grand epiphany?  All I know is that in the guise of trying to distract my son whilst I washed a car – HE actually washed it – and watered a garden full of plants and filled 2 bird baths and washed most things in his paths and rendered me ready for a very bad wet t shirt competition but still – if it works though?

4EB96E03-CA57-4EE9-99B3-A1D3640AD7D9

So, there you go. Thanks for the memories summer 2019, the free bits, the cheap bits, the good bits.  All of it.

The best things in life are the best things.  WORD.