Being an expat in one of the hottest parts of the world means it’s next to impossible to spend our entire summer here in Qatar. There are a few reasons for that apart from the obvious:
- It’s just way too hot (I know I said that already)
- No one, I mean next to no one is around, meaning we’d have no friends to visit (I will have to be with the kids 24/7!)
- Being as hot as it is (goes up to/sometimes over 50 degrees Celsius!!) the kids most definitely can not play outside. And that in itself is almost a crime!!
It is so difficult keeping kids from playing outside. That is one place where they can be free and wild and as expressive as they like. So it only makes sense to be able to spend our time somewhere I can provide that environment for them. The best part is they get to be around family too!
Since we’ve moved to the Middle East, the biggest part of our holidays get spent in the UK. Here’s a few regular things we like to do when there:
My parents live in the suburbs in Surrey. The house is situated with a huge garden in the front followed by Oaks park continuing past the wooden fence. Acres and acres of trees spread out past dog parks, golf courses and horse stables. The kids love it, I love it! Our usual day involves going outdoors at least 4/5 times or rather being mainly outdoors only returning indoors for food or naps. We spend hours looking for bugs, collecting turtle food (for our pet turtles), people watching, dog watching, berry picking (endless blackberry bushes everywhere), collecting sticks, stones, pine cones. Even took our boomerang that our neighbours brought back from their travels to the outback, and gave it a go!
The year Jana was born, they constructed a small playground just minutes walk from the house for residents. It’s the best place to walk to. Jana has officially made a friend she meets only in the summer, in that playground. This was the second year running and they both recognised each other! There’s a small treehouse where we picnic almost everyday. Best outdoor activity. Ever.
Duck Pond // Squirrel Park
I’ve got to be honest, I used this card one too many times but I’m not ashamed! I loveeeee this park myself. So I was happy to make the daily trips here, in Carshalton, to feed the ducks and squirrels, nuts and seeds. This park also has a sizeable playground with a zip line etc bonus!!
Animal farm // Strawberry Farm
Both my girls are at an age where animals are life! Haya is absolutely bonkers over any animal that has fur. So you can imagine their delight when my mum surprised them with a trip to Deen’s City Farm & Riding School, a local farm run partly on donations from visitors. It couldn’t get much better than this. Everything was at their eye level and within reach, there was a small machine that dispensed animal food pellets for 50p (which, by the way, lasted us a good 20minutes before needing another round) and they were able to stroke, tap, touch all sorts of farm animals. Goats, pygmy goats, cows, sheep, a very curious alpaca and some wild pigs that were running manic in their pens, so were harder to reach. This farm was local which meant we didn’t have to drive far out to get somewhere worth going. I am always in search of small, family/community run businesses to invest my time and money in and have found my kids have a better time when there’s smaller ground to cover. As young children do, they like to take their time to explore all aspects and I’m happy with going at their pace!
One of the best strawberry (& veggie) picking farm, hands down, was Garson’s in Esher. It’s quite close to my sisters place, who lives in Kingston. It’s also different to the ones we’ve been to in the past. In the root vegetable section, they’d provided pitch forks to help yourself to dig out carrots and potatoes (these were chained into place so had a small diameter you could use them in). You could drive around to the different sections, which was handy with younger kids as we didn’t have to tug all our goodies along with us. At the end, you paid before exiting the area. The cafe was divine! My sister and I shared the best tea and sandwich with plenty of options for the kiddos too!
This is something my dad loves spending time doing everyday, so my girls got a real kick when they got to join grand-dad outside and help him water the plants, mow the lawn, clean the garden furniture. These things sound quite straight forward and something the kids might not do normally, but I found they just wanted to help in any way they could so we made the best use of them! On another note, they had so much wildlife in the garden to stop and admire too! Busy hands, busy minds.
These are some of the simplest forms of keeping busy, in summer break, that I am happy doing with the kids, and very frankly, my favourites! It keeps them grounded, keeps them outdoors with nature, with grandparents. It’s all about trying to get some mindful family time in. The kind of education and learning you do at home doesn’t compare to any other institute worldwide, in my opinion. Obviously, in most cases, as is my case, you don’t realise it until you’re living a thousand miles away..