I used to measure the success of school breaks based on the number of trips made to A&E. One year I had to deal with a 2-year-old who lost her fingernail in a slammed door AND a 3-year-old who broke her arm whilst climbing out of her cot.
We've moved on since then, and so has the economy.
The credit crunch means that many people may opt to stay local this half term, rather than the usual trip to France and Euro Disney.
Here are some ideas in preparation for when you wake up on Monday morning and the children ask "what are we doing today mummy?"
- Go see High School Musical 3 Senior Year. In theatres starting 22 October.
- Visit Harry Potter film locations
- Throw a Halloween Party!
- Take the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Tour. The Pott's home is the Ibstone windmill. You can park at the bottom of the hill in Turville and then hike up. There's a nice pub to have lunch. Duck Pond, where Truly drove into the water, is just beyond the Five Horseshoes Pub, and Hambleden is the quaint village in the film. Of course there is a nice pub there too. Please note, in no way are we suggesting that you drink to get through half term!
- Go to the cinema. Don't like High School Musical? See if anything else strikes your fancy ...
- Better yet, create your own home cinema. Shut the curtains in the middle of the day, make popcorn, buy a box of maltesers and watch Annie on repeat. Here's a list of some family favourites.
- Thrill them with an IMAX film. Bugs at 250,000 their normal size? Deep Sea 3D. Trip to the moon anyone?
- Go to the theatre in London. Grease. The Sound of Music. Children 8 and above can try the Les Miz Kids Club. See if there is anything on lastminute.com.
- Check out some rainy day activities. This is England, and it will rain, so you may as well be prepared.
- Plan your next birthday party. Someone's must be coming up. This only works for little girls, they can talk about parties and whom they are going to invite, for hours.
- Have a pretend party. Wrap old toys in blankets, bring out the tea set and decorate the house.
- Start baking. Here are some sites to check out: Cookery Club, Baking Mad, BBC Cooking with the Family.
- Have a craft day.
- Print out some colouring pages from the web. Let the kids pick a theme.
- Play card games.
- Pretend I'm going camping and I'm going to take...
- Visit friends and relatives that you rarely see.
- Have a playdate. One at yours, one at theirs. Perfect.
- Get lost in a maze.
- Pick your own fruit and vegetables. This month expect to find strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears, pumpkins, squash, cabbage and carrots.
- Take a boat trip down the Thames. Hobbs of Henley.
- Take the train somewhere ... the next town, Oxford, Bath, Windsor, anywhere. Kids love trains.
- Go ice skating.
- Try rock climbing.
- Learn to ski. Camps for 8 and above.
- Have a go at waterskiing.
- Ride a horse.
- Tire them out swimming.
- Take them go karting.
- Go ten-pin bowling.
- Fly a kite. The wide open fields in Maidensgrove (made famous by Ian McEwan) are perfect for this, and there is nice pub nearby.
- Go cycling. Try Dinton Pastures.
- Put them in camp -- football, tennis, rugby, etc. Check your local leisure centre.
- Visit a London Museum. The best day to visit London of course if on Sunday -- parking is free and there is no congestion charge. If you aim to get to the museums by opening time -- you can usually find free parking nearby.
- Visit Modern Art Oxford. They have a modern art trolly from 1 - 5 on Saturdays and Sundays. Entrance: Free until January.
- Go to Legoland. Haven't had the pleasure this year? You still have time, they're open until 2nd November.
- Visit Windsor Castle. The ticket is pricey, but you can use it all year.
- Take a step back in time at Cogges Manor Farm.
- Hang out at the Henley River and Rowing Museum.
- Visit your local library.
- See the animals at Odds Farms Park.
- Go to the zoo. Try London, buy don't expect to see any elephants!
- Get high on the London Eye.
- Live some history on the HMS Belfast.
- Visit Westminister Abbey and do some brass rubbings.
- See the towns and gowns in Oxford, Cambridge and Eton.
- Show the kids local produce at a farmer's market.
- Go to Shakespeare-land.
- Go to your local play park, or for variety, go to the playpark in a neighboring town. Get an ice cream. The kids won't care if it's cold and raining.
- Talk to your kids. How about just chilling out and getting to know your children better. Enjoy them -- they are only little for a short while.
What are your favourite half term activities? Please leave a comment below and let us know.
Thanks to Charlene, Lucy, Anelisa and Cass who all shared their ideas for this article.
This post was written by Susanna, an Expat Mums Blog founding contributor. You can read more at her blog, A Modern Mother.
Photo credit: florriebassingbourn