10th August 2023
Why do the school holidays always come around so quickly? It’s time for us to juggle working from home with keeping our little ones entertained…
Whether your little ones have feet or paws, we’ve created five days’ worth of cost-effective, sustainable activities for children and pets to enjoy from home.
To help with the task of entertaining children and pets during the holidays, Catrin George, mum of one and Animal Welfare Specialist at Animal Friends Pet Insurance, shares her ideas for keeping all family members, furry or otherwise, engaged during the school break!
1 – Develop pet ownership responsibility skills
Without the stresses associated with the school-run, the holidays can be a perfect time to help teach your children how to be responsible pet parents.
Catrin says: “There are so many responsibilities that come with having a pet, and it’s really important to make sure your children understand how to look after them properly.
While your children have time off school, it can be a good idea to ease them into taking ownership of some of the tasks that come with owning a pet. Whether it’s planning the daily dog walk route, letting your cat outside (if they’re the outdoors type), or creating a meal-time schedule and ensuring the pets are fed and watered, every pet care task gives them a chance to learn important life skills.
You could always give your child an incentive for completing certain tasks, such as time to spend on video games or a treat from the ice cream van, for a successful week of pet-parenting.”
2 – Set up scent games for pets
Providing your pet with lots of enrichment can help keep them entertained all day!
The key to keeping our furry friends happy (and hopefully keep mischief-makers out of trouble) is mental stimulation – especially for breeds who are a bit more excitable.
Catrin says: “Finding or making appropriate games can be really entertaining for your pets and it’s great to get the kids involved too. Sniffing is great for our dogs but also for cats, and using scent to enrich their environment offers inexpensive, effective, and fun ways to keep your pets happy, stress-free, and healthy.
Find a reward that your pet loves, whether that be food or toys, and hide them throughout the house or garden. You could ask younger family members to hide the reward, create a map, and then help your pet sniff them out.
You could even have a go at making some other forms of fun and rewarding challenges that encourage your pet to work for their treats. Why not take a shoebox and fill it with toilet roll tubes and ripped up paper with tasty goodies hidden throughout, and let them hunt through to find them? This is a great mentally enriching activity using a variety of senses and can help keep the kids busy, too.”
3 – Get baking for a pet tea party
Finding an activity that can be enjoyed by both children and pets can be a challenge. Luckily, there are some great pet and child-friendly activities you can set up at home!
Catrin says: “Why not include the whole family, animal and human, in a tea party? Start the day by baking some home-made treats; there are plenty of simple and cheap recipes for both cats and dogs online. When the treats are ready, set up a space at home where your family can share their snacks, or even watch a movie together, allowing for some much-needed bonding and snuggling time.
Just make sure you don’t mix up human and pet treats – especially if the human treats include chocolate, which can be dangerous for pets.”
4 – Paw print arts and crafts
Did you know arts and crafts activities can include your furry family members, too?
Catrin says: “Getting the entire family involved in something creative is a great way to spend time together. With a simple recipe, you can make ornament paw and handprints to keep forever:
Step 1 – Simply mix 290g of flour with the same amount of salt and add water until you have enough to knead and make into a ball.
Step 2 – Cover the dough with some baking paper and press your pet’s foot or child’s hand into it. You can also put a small hole through the dough at the top, so once it’s baked, you can add some string and hang it on display as a decoration!
Step 3 – To bake the pressing, put it onto some non-stick paper and place in the oven at about 100 degrees centigrade for 2-3 hours.
If you want to go one step further (and buy yourself a bit more quiet time!), why not encourage the kids to paint the moulds too? Inspire them to create a lovely memento for your family to treasure.”
5 – Enjoy a pet picnic
As you’re winding down for the weekend, make the most of quality time together.
Catrin says: “Now might be the perfect time to head to a nearby park, or into the garden, and have a picnic with all the family. This can also be done indoors as a carpet picnic, if your cat cannot be outside. Grab a blanket, some of your favourite human and pet-friendly food, drinks, and games, and spend some time bonding.
If you’re heading outdoors as a family, it’s best to pick a spot that’s suitable for your pet. Make sure it's quiet and animal-friendly with plenty of shade, and always check that the snacks you pack are safe for everyone to consume.”