Staying Sane on the Weekend


Weekends for me are all about family-and when I say family I mean my parents, my brothers, their wives and kids, my husband’s parents, their kids and often a couple of uncles, aunts and cousins. As you can imagine, I have little control over my kids in such situations. When I say I have little control, I mean none, zero, zilch! Chocolate? Plenty of it for everyone. TV? Hey, my kids would have to watch violence and scantily clad cartoon characters eventually. Bumps and scratches? I don’t even bat an eyelid anymore when I hear my kids screaming.

Ok so I’m making it out to be worse than it really is-but, seriously, there is a bit more mayhem than I’m used to during these weekly visits. That’s why I have decided to come up with some structured/planned play ideas for my kids and their cousins during our weekend family fun days.

Snap: the kids love this game, and there are snap cards in almost any kids store. Even when kids are too young to understand the concept they still love to put cards down! I got mine at the kids section in Marks and Spencer. FYI, they have plenty more board games that also do the trick.

BlockBusters: We use window markers and create a 5 by 5 chart on a big window. We then distribute the alphabet randomly in the chart, leaving out some of the more difficult letters (like x). We choose a theme, such as food or animals, and create a list of words beginning with each letter of the alphabet. We then create clues for each word. The kids get distributed into two teams and must create a straight (across, down or diagonally) line of 5 blocks by answering the clue correctly.

Simon says: get the kids to stand in a line and begin by saying “Simon says jump in the air” and all the kids have to jump in the air. Follow with “Simon says twirl around.” Next, give them an order without saying “Simon says.” Any kids who do what you said are out of the game. The point is they should only do what you ask when you begin with “Simon says…”

Story time: create a book club with your kids and their cousins. This will require some pre-planning and some parent involvement. I plan to write more about this in the future so stay posted.

Water play: Get a big inflatable pool, and fill it with pans, wooden spoons, plastic cups, and a couple of water bottles filled with water. Stick a couple of kids in there at a time. It will keep them busy for at least 30 minutes.

Garden play: releasing the kids into the garden without some kind of plan could result in:

  • The kids lighting the grass on fire (yes, my brothers and I did this) 
  • An emergency trip to the hospital for 6 stitches (yes, all of my brothers) 
  • A broken limb (yup, that was me!) 

We had fun as kids, but I don’t know how my parents didn’t die of hear attacks! I can’t handle the stress, that’s why my kids play with the turtles (supervised), feed the fish (supervised), and play on their scooters (supervised).

The Big Box of Arts and Crafts: get a big box, and I mean BIG! Stuff all kinds of arts and crafts stuff in it, including felt, scissors, glue, beads (for 3+), different kinds of paper, costumes and anything else from around the house including water bottles and caps, old t-shirts, shoe boxes, foil and plastic wrap etc. You might even consider purchasing a couple of activity books from the bookshop (try Magrudy’s). Let the kids do what they want. Last week my daughter (4) and nephew (5) made a silver robot using old shoe boxes, foil and buttons. They were busy doing it for an hour at least and besides being busy they were extremely proud of themselves. Can I also mention they did this completely on their own with absolutely zero help or inspiration from anyone in the house!

What do you do to keep the kids busy?

Manal Hamid

Manal Hamid

Partner & COO at Moms Guide Abu Dhabi
aka, Emirati Mom
A 30-something mom of two kids making everything happen all at once! SAHM who recently made the leap back to working full-time.
Manal Hamid

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