Summer is but a distant memory, Christmas is twinkling enticingly in the distance and the intense childcare opportunity that is half term is rolling into town. All of which makes now the perfect time to step back and appreciate the simple (also handily free!) pleasures of autumn before the present-sourcing, nativity mayhem begins. Get our list of child-friendly autumnal pleasures ticked off before the temperature drops to freezing.
Have a conker fight
The World Conker Championships takes place this weekend but even if you’re not playing for prizes, there’s fun to be had gathering, stringing and swinging a carefully chosen nut at your opponent in a park near you now.
Carve a pumpkin
You’ve seen those exquisite templates on Pinterest, right? I mean, how hard can it be? From our experience: very. But that’s the joy of children. They’ll be just as thrilled with a hacked out zig-zag mouth as they would be with an intricately illuminated graveyard scene. Go straight for the former and, if you’re feeling ambitious, scoop the insides out to make soup.
Sneak out to the park after tea
Swapping bath time for climbing frames is the stuff of childhood dreams. Bundle them up after tea and up your perfect parent points to maximum. Just get this one in before the clocks go back – and the evenings get darker – on 29 October.
Fly a kite
Make the most of the weather change with a trip to the beach, park or nearest hilltop for a spot of kite-flying. The run, launch, run again situation will get your heart beating faster while the wind makes rosy-cheeked cherubs out of even the most pallid screen-obsessed child. Bail out for hot chocolates the second someone let’s go of the string.
Hunt for pinecones
Hit Christmas craft season running with a pre-emptive collection of cones – now is the best time to find them. Then all you have to do is chuck some red stickers, googly eyes and a bit of string* in the direction of your progeny come December and, hey presto, you’re mother of the year. *That’s a Rudolph decoration, OBVIOUSLY.
Go apple picking
They definitely taste better when you pick them yourself. Check out your local PYO farm/orchard or ransack a neighbour’s tree. Apple crumble for pudding, anyone?
Go for a walk in the countryside
Soon it’ll be so cold the kids won’t want to set foot outside and so wet you won’t want to deal with the mud-splattered aftermath – it’s now or never for a truly pleasing stomp in the great outdoors. Check out our run-down of walks with kid appeal here.
Feed the birds
Still stalling on getting that family cat/rabbit/chinchilla? Distract them with a spot of back garden bird feeding and if it sparks an interest, get them to sign up for the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch in January.
Forage for blackberries
Parks, hedgerows, that dodgy looking alley round the back of the garages, there are few places these tasty wild berries don’t grow and few kids who don’t enjoy picking them. Keep your eyes peeled for a bumper crop and get in there before anyone else does. Best eaten on the spot or – if you’re feeling fancy – after a brief rinse under the tap back at home.
Eat a toffee apple
‘Tis the season to break your teeth on this traditional confection which, you know, contains apple…Ergo, one of their five a day.
Watch a film under a blanket with hot chocolate
Turn a weekend lie down on the sofa into an event with the addition of blankets, hot chocolate and marshmallows. Quick snooze? Don’t mind if we do.
Take a torch walk
Crush Friday night cabin fever with an evening stroll around the block by torchlight. They can shine lights on puddles and ominous detritus at the side of the road while you peer over the hedge to check out your neighbour’s new fireplace. Everyone’s happy.