Fun school holiday activities for tweens
As we head into the summer school holiday period, many of us start wondering what we're actually going to be doing after the excitement of Christmas wanes.
And as a mum of tween girls, I know how hard it can be to get them off their devices and into the real world!
Here are a few ideas for things that tween girls will love to do over the holidays.
Theme park / adventure park
Not the most novel idea out there (and certainly not the cheapest) but a visit to a park such as Wet n Wild, Luna Park or whatever theme park you have in your area will be something they'll talk about for months (or years) to come.
Adventure parks (zip lining and tree courses) are also a popular idea and usually a lot cheaper than a theme park (but just as fun!).
Pack a picnic so you don't end up spending hundreds on food and drinks and make a day of it.
Ninja warrior course
Ninja warrior courses, both indoor and outdoor, are popular with this age group. Check before you go that its age appropriate - no point going to an adult sized course which might be too tricky for younger tweens.
Many councils are installing free outdoor obstacle courses so check in with your local Facebook group to find one near you.
Alternatively, indoor rock climbing or a trampoline centre are great ways to burn some energy and try something new.
Many of us in Australia are lucky enough to live close (or at most, within an hour) of some beautiful national parks and bushwalks.
Don't feel like you need to stay too close to home - find somewhere you've never been before and it will make a refreshing change for everyone.
Ask on your local Facebook group for recommendations, or check out a site like Aussie Bushwalking for ideas. You never know what you might find in your own backyard!
While I'm not generally one to advocate shopping as a hobby, my girls do get pretty excited to have some money of their own to spend and hit the shops.
Whether they received gift vouchers for Christmas or have earned some pocket money by doing some chores at home, hit the shops while everything's on sale and let them pick a couple of things they've had their eye on.
If they've outgrown a lot of their clothes you could have them go through them before your shopping day, work out what should be donated to charity, passed on to friends or thrown away, and then let them pick out a few things to replace what no longer fits.
A spa day can be a relaxing way to spend some down time with your girls, and can be done very cost effectively at home.
Start off with a shower or bath, pop on some robes and choose a few little treats for the spa - hair treatment masks, face masks, foot massages. Some girls might even like to spend time beforehand creating a "spa menu".
Add in some little snacks and some music of their choice and it should keep them busy for an hour or so.
Lemonade stand / second hand stall / art & craft stall
We usually spend a few weeks at our holiday house and fortunately there is a lemon tree there which has been neglected and is abundant with lemons - perfect for making homemade lemonade and running a lemonade stand.
If you don't have access to a lemon tree (and don't want to spend a small fortune on shop lemons), your girls might like to sell off some of their unwanted toys, books or clothes in a mini garage sale, or if they're creative they could set up a stall selling jewellery, drawings, paintings or other crafty creations to passers by.
Cooking something together is a great way to bond, and gives your kids something to eat instead of hassling you for snacks all day.
Younger girls might be able to manage simple recipes (or at least packet mix cakes) on their own if you're only able to offer minimal supervision.
You could also look into kids baking kits (try Hey Baker) which come with everything pre-measured and ready to go.
Other easy options are DIY sundaes, or they could decorate cookies or cupcakes that you've pre-made for them.
A trip to the movies is hardly a new idea, but it's a good one when it's raining and the park or beach is out of the question.
A different idea could be doing a movie day at home by turning a room into a home cinema - block out the light, grab a bunch of mattresses, pillows and blankets, and get a lot of yummy snacks ready to watch their favourite movie (or three).
Again, not the most original idea - but something my girls love to do is go to a new park they've never been to before.
Sure, it might entail a bit of a drive, but visiting a new park often provides much more entertainment than visiting your usual haunts.
Make it fun for you too by picking one that's near a cafe or restaurant you've always wanted to try for some after-play refuelling.
Even if you're not a camping family, there's still plenty of fun to be had camping in your own backyard.
My girls could quite happily spend an hour two doing all the planning for what they'll need for their big night camping, carting it all outside and enjoying marshmallows over the fire pit before settling in for the night (who am I kidding - they're usually back in their beds not long after marshmallows but it keeps them busy for a while!)
Discover your own city
You don't need to limit yourself to tourist attractions - visit a suburb or town you haven't been to in a while (or ever) and play tourist for the day.
If you live in the inner city, your kids might enjoy a day trip the the outskirts of the city; if you live in the suburbs a day wondering around the CBD might be just what they need.
It's all about mixing it up and discovering new places to explore and get to know a bit better.
For a special treat, your tweens might enjoy a trip out for high tea and all the finger sandwiches and cupcakes they can handle! For a lower cost alternative, they can try setting one up at home for themselves, or invite friends or family around.
Keep them busy creating menus and decorating the table before the special event.
Free cultural events
Find out if your local council, art gallery or museum is running any activities over the holidays - many will have free or low cost options that will buy you a few hours to yourself.
Finding a new activity to master
As girls enter their teens, they have longer attention spans and have a stronger idea about what it is they like to do. Have them pick one skill they want to master by the end of the holidays - skateboarding, roller skating, painting a portrait, learning to code, learning how to cook a cake from scratch, learning another language - and see what you can do to help them achieve it.
Whatever it is they want to learn, there's bound to be a million YouTube tutorials on it - have them set a goal to spend a set amount of time each day or week learning how to master a new skill.
Arts & Craft
Choose a fun arts & craft activity - tie dye, shibori and marbling are popular with my girls - and spend the day creating something that they can use, wear or giveaway.
There are so many kits available, many of which will be available with your Creative Kids vouchers if you haven't used them yet this year.
Use some inexpensive pots or a square patch of your garden and let your kids loose!
You can pick up some seeds or seedlings at your local nursery and have your kids do some research on the kind of care the plants they have selected will require.
Bonus points if they can create a functional herb garden for you to use over and over again!