EMMA HOLLINGWORTH: Lots of days out are the key to prevent picking up after little monsters

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TODAY is the last day where I can feel slightly like I once did – when I was childless, young and carefree.

But after today I will be rammed up to the gills with children as my eldest breaks up from school. She has two inset days and then a whole week off.

Afraid she was going to get bored, I seem to have managed to book a whole host of things for her to do - which when I look at it now leaves me with a sense of dread.

Firstly I have invited the whole family from down South to come and visit us – so not only will I be inundated with my three small children, but I will also have their other two – equally small – cousins running amok round the house.

Not only that, I seem to have foolishly agreed to have my five-year-old niece stay with us for a night – “What a good idea”, I remember saying to my sister-in-law a few weeks back. “The girls will get on famously and it will keep them occupied.”

Famous last words I fear.

I am quite sure I will end up having to prise them apart and put them in separate bedrooms in the wee small hours as they chat and giggle endlessly to each other. Six-years-old is perhaps too young for a sleepover, I now think in hindsight.

But not only have I agreed to a number of small children which are related to me (albeit by marriage) coming to stay, I also seem to have asked all the people I know with the most kids in the world over to lunch next week. This was done in the vain hope it would keep my children entertained instead of whining round my feet saying “I’m bored”. But I fear this may back fire on me as I find my lovely home under siege from small monsters. I find it hard enough to pick up and put away after my own three small monsters, let alone hordes of them.

I need to think quickly and carefully about a plan B. This I think involves lots of days out – what ever the weather!

Luckily Sheffield City Council has had the fore-sight to think there may well be parents like me who are tearing their hair out wondering what to do with the offspring during the holiday time. Marvellously they have come up with a winning list of half term fun things for kids of all ages to do. This includes den building to making plant pot monsters.

They are numerous activities planned by Sheffield City Council’s Parks and Countryside Ranger Service right across the city.

Whether the preference is for more energetic activities, such as den building, cycling and walking, or perhaps studying wildlife, making bird boxes, spoon carving, sculpturing willow, bag painting, making plant pot monsters and even the Madame Zucchini children’s show - there’s something for everyone.

Naturally not everyone has the same interests, so the Council has provided a really wide variety of things to do in a park near you.

Better still - all the activities are free of charge unless otherwise stated, although some are subject to weather conditions and everyone is recommended to wear appropriate clothing.

Some of the activities are so popular that booking is essential to be sure of a place, but for most of them you can just turn up on the day and get stuck in. Full details of the activities available can be found by visiting http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/rangers or phone 0114 250 0500.