Do we need to entertain our kids all the time?

Half-term’s finally over. Whew. The last week has been tough. It was my first time juggling having the kids at home with working from home. If not for the Younger’s nursery staying open, it would have been utter torture.

I had my first taste of what was to come last Sunday, when I took the kids to the South Bank Centre. The Imagine Children’s Festival was on and there were tons of activities. The one we wanted was the David Shrigley’s workshop at 12.30pm. We got there about an hour early and stumbled on an arts and crafts activity.

When it was time for David Shrigley, a long queue had already formed. Younger, being 2, of course would have none of it. Older was grumbling. It was nearly lunch time and the kids turn into monsters when low sugar levels hit.

Two lessons I learned that Sunday.

1) Never ever sign up for an activity starting around lunchtime. If I do, then always feed the kids first.

2) Majority of London’s kids is also on half-term. Expect anywhere with any kind of kids’ activity to be crowded. Especially when it’s free.

Then I wondered, why did I have to fill my children’s schedule with activities every single day? Why did they have to be ‘entertained’? My holidays as a child meant freedom. Free of adults, free to do whatever I wanted. I still can recall the excitement at the beginning of every holiday.

A new tact was necessary. Apart from Monday and Wednesday, where we had already made plans, I was going to leave my 7 year old, just to be. TV and computer were banned. He had to learn creative independent play.

There was Lego involved, drawing, some reading and several tantrums.

I survived the week. So did my son. In fact, I think be broadly enjoyed it. Because on the first day back to school, he said, “I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay home.”

There’s a bird at the bottom of the garden

Instead of making Stressy Mummy’s salted dough this afternoon, I decided to brave the grey skies and head for the local garden. Never mind that it was drizzling and wet, my two children skipped all the way. (Salt dough has been postponed to tomorrow afternoon instead.)

Our local garden is the wonderful Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. The lovely Marie has typically planned a week of fun for the kids this half-term. Today’s workshop was themed Fantastic Feasts for Birds.

The kids made cupcakes for the birds, made up of bird seeds, oats, currants and stale bread crumbs mixed in melted lard. The pliable mixture of cooled lard was scooped into paper doilies – or any grease-proofed paper will do. A short piece of twine strung through the cupcake and then left to dry. Before hanging up the cupcakes on the trees, the doilies were removed. The nutritious cupcake feed was important for birds over the winter season, we were told.

The Garden has lots of kids-tastic fun throughout the week. All you need to do is round up the kids and pop in.

Tuesday 14 February 2-4pm: Fabulous Fabrics
Learn how to design and print funky textiles with textile designers Emamoke Ukeleghe and Yemi Awosile, which will be used for dressing up the Eastern Curve scarecrows in Friday’s Scarecrow Catwalk workshop.

Wednesday 15 February 2-4pm: Magpie Mobiles
Gather natural treasures from around the garden to hang from twig and wire mobiles, led by artist Nicola Plant.

Thursday 16 February 2-4pm: Giant City Bird Feeders
Design skyscraper feeders with recycled packaging with artist Nicola Plant.

Friday 17 February 2-4pm: Dalston Scarecrow Catwalk
Using printed fabrics from Tuesday’s workshop, sew them on to T-shirts, skirts and trousers for the scarecrows.