Picture this – it’s a warm sunny day and you are in a blissful beer garden with a glass of something cool and refreshing. You may be with your partner, family or friends, or just in need of a sit down for half an hour and a packet of crisps in the sunshine. Small child does not like to sit down and enjoy the peace and quiet.
You could sedate your child with the iPad once she’s made a cursory go of colouring in.
Or you can have a handy list of things to keep your child busy while you feel a smug glow.
If you can manage to get them to do all ten things, you might even get to finish your drink, eat your crisps and find out all the details of what your friend’s other-half did wrong last night.
Ten ways to amuse your young child at the pub.
- Camera! A phone is great, a kids camera is even better because you don’t panic they will faceplant with it on the rockery. Send them off to take photos around the garden. I like to do a challenge of interesting things (find an eggshell, a feather, a cobweb) or Guess What This Is (usually close ups taken of a nostril).
2. Nature cards – The single best thing I did since having a kid. Draw them, or print them, laminate and keep in your pocket or handbag for All Time. Give the children a pack of the cards, and ask them to find each item. Works well with the camera unless you want sticky hands thrusting worms in your face. (Pro tip – if you need longer, throw in a wild card or two, like a conker or a holly berry in the middle of summer.)
3. Treasure hunt. Hide ten items around the beer garden, and give them clues to find them. The vaguer the clue, the longer you get to sit undisturbed. Remember there are no prizes, the proud sense of completing a task is the best reward. As if. Bribe with a lemonade.
4. Make a nest. Using moss, twigs and grass who can make the best nest?
5. Colour wheel – Another piece of DIY that yields ten minutes of free time if you’re lucky. Cut a circle out of card, and divide into sections of different colours. The younger the child, the fewer hues and gradients. The challenge is to find items that match the colour.
6. Stones – ah stones. The blessing of the British beer garden. Make a road to drive a toy car along. Build a tower. Colour them with metallic pens. Make a letter and guess it. Toddlers like filling plastic bottles with them and pouring them out again (excellent for fine motor skills) Draw a picture on them and turn them over for them to find.
7. Flower shop. Only using fallen petals, make a flower shop by sorting them into sections with twigs or stones and serve your customers. Good for counting money, learning flower names and language skills.
8. Wild flowers. The hunt is on for daisies, buttercups and dandelions. Dry them between beer mats, make a chain, take them home to wash and place in a jar of oil for a rub you can discard surreptitiously when it goes mouldy.
9. Caterpillar hunt. Find the leaves with the tell tale signs of the hungry caterpillars. Take photos of leaves with holes, search for eggs, caterpillars. chrysalids and butterflies. Identify them with expensive apps or look them up in a book later if you remember.
10. Herbs – lots of beer gardens have herb planters which can provide seconds of fun for the young child. Sniff, taste and blind test the herbs, as long as you know they’re definitely herbs.
Game over. By now your child will be tugging at your arm singing ‘mummy mummy mummy’ and stealing your chips.
Ten things pub landlords don’t like:
- Mud cakes
- Making puddles
- Drawing with pens or chalk on paths, walls or furniture
- Picking flowers from flower beds, plants and trees
- Eating all the herbs
- Annoying customers by taking photos of them
- Feeding animals
- Filling glasses with stones and other mixed media art.
- Leaving piles of moss, stones, sticks and flowers behind when you go.