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“You’ve got your hands full”. – Everyone.
Something we’ve heard so much over the years, we grew from 1 kid to 3 instantly and then to 4 less than a year later. So, keeping kids amused, making fun things for them to do so I can get a hot cup of tea or make sure I get everything I need during the food shop has just become second nature to us.
Our kids LOVE being out and about in town (actually anywhere). It can sometimes be hectic with all 4 in a busy city centre, Edinburgh is always bustling with tourists, but we do have a few wee tricks up our sleeves for such occasions. Sometimes I have stuff for work I need (or would just really like) to shoot so we are always prepared for a bit of a day out.
So, here’s the trick to how I get at least one hot cup of tea a day and keep the kids amused in a busy city.
The magical pencil case:
I can’t drive, so we get the bus, but more often the train, it gets us right to the city centre in 22 minutes. But that can feel like hours with bored kids so this is where the magical pencil case comes in. This pencil case has a little bit of everything in it, it has tiny notebooks, pencils, sticky notes, stickers, story cubes & lolly pops in it. Everything they need to make a little journey fun. We make up stories with the story cubes then everyone draws pictures to go along with it. Its brilliant for cafe stops too, when they have wolfed down their cake and you still want to enjoy that coffee in the warmth, get out the magical pencil case!
It’s a great little ‘busy’ kit and it’s always in my bag wherever we go and you can pop in so many different tiny treats!
Scavenger hunt cards: I buy blank A5 postcards, like the flash cards you used for revising for exams. We have a little box of them, white ones and rainbow colour. Once we know where we are going, I doodle things I think the kids might find along the way. A trip up the Royal Mile is filled with colours and easy things to spot like coloured doors, hearts, tartan, clocks and fun hats on tourists. 3 easy spots and one obscure thing to get them to really look is always fun.
*For an extra 10 minutes, at home before you go or a cafe stop you can let them colour in their own cards of things they’ll spot, this is also a great one for the train journey there too!*
The last few trips we’ve had the kids have drawn their very own cards. So sweet to see what they think they will spot on the way to town!
Camera scavenger hunt: One of my favourites. We have a small list of 3 or 4 items for them to photograph, a red bus, a yellow door, a cute dog… and we’ll add others to the list as we walk, which always includes a unicorn! (Which is easier than you think here in Edinburgh as its Scotlands national animal and can be found on plaques around the city.
The kids all have their own mini digital cameras and take great pride in the photographs they take during our walks. The girls both have this camera. And Harry has this little Lego style one.
Eye spy but with colours: Have you ever spent 20 minutes with a frustrated kid trying to guess what on earth starts with C and turns out it was See-Saw? Playing with colours makes the game so much easier and is playable from age 2 onwards.
Pick a colour: Really similar to Eye spy but each person picks a colour, then counts how many things they can spot that day in their colour, dogs, hats, doors, buses. Everyone loses counts but its always fun and gets everyone excited when we pass a street of rainbow doors.
Hot chocolate in a flask: ‘Just a little further…. and we can stop for hot chocolate!’
Not only is it fun to stop in the woods, or the beach but this one is a good way to save a few pennies. Taking 4 kids for a hot chocolate can tally up to anything from £10 to £25 depending on the place, and with 3-4 outings a week it can get a little bit pricey. And how cool is it to pitch up in the middle of no where and warm up with a hot chocolate in your own tumbler?
Natures Sticks: Lolly pop sticks, some double sided tape and off you go. Collecting leaves, petals, moss, anything they find pretty. Also works with a loo roll tube as a bracelet and they can wear their creations too. They turn into a mini little work of art that they can pop on their wall for a while when they get home and it’s always lovely to see the patterns and how delicately they make designs on the stick.
Magic wands: Collect sticks to decorate at home. Think Harry Potter… the weirder the stick the better. No two are the same and kids can spend a really long time finding the perfect one to match their magic personalities and usually cures the ‘my legs are too heavy to walk’ whines when they want to be carried when you are 10 minutes into a lovely country walk.
I didn’t even realise some of these were ‘hacks’ they were just part of our day and things the kids love doing and really wanted to share them with you. Theres highlights of all the activities we do on my instagram highlight here: Kids Hacks.
Tag and share yours too! I LOVE seeing everyone out and about and always share my favourites!