Forget the thrills, just laze about

Hyperactive holidays are the rage, but kids may prefer indolence, says Adrian Mourby

When I was young, school holidays were about being a slob in my bedroom. At the end of term, I retired with my Airfix kits and Action Man and only emerged when my mother called me down for meals.

This was a world of torpor and of imagination broken only by my father pointing out from time to time that the strange smell outside was fresh air, should I be interested in sticking my nose out for a sniff. Rarely did I venture out, but by the end of the holiday I had surfeited on indolence and was keen to get back to school and to be doing things again.

Nowadays, school holidays are as hyperactive as children's television. Everything has to be cheers and thrills. Here in Cardiff, local authorities have laid on playcare schemes where your child can run egg-races, paint Easter eggs, build an Easter Bunny hutch with Uncle Mike and make shapeless things out of coloured cardboard.

We'll also be having street theatre, tree-planting and face-painting, plus fire-eaters and jugglers and a man walking around on stilts shaking hands with the kiddies. The local arts centre is running courses in making shapeless things out of coloured cardboard .

We've got two Fun Factories, where in between the courses and the street entertainment, your children can roll over and over inside a brightly coloured cage doing unspeakable things to each other with bits of padded foam rubber.

If you go into the library for a quiet sit-down, a man in clown costume is likely to jump out at you and shout "Hi kids! Aren't books fun!"

The fact of the matter is, it is all too much. Last half-term, my seven- year-old daughter was ferried from event to event the way film stars are hustled around when promoting a new release. By the end of the holiday, Miranda was dreadfully over-excited and within two days of going back to school, she was off with a temperature.

All of this has set me wondering, as Easter approaches, if there is anything we can do to rein in this bacchanalia. Whatever happened to the good, old-fashioned "God, I'm bored" holidays of my youth?

The answer is, of course, that working parents is what happened. My mother was always at home when I was young, so there was no need to fix me up with compulsory raffia classes. There was no need to arrange a relay team of hard-pressed mums and dads to deliver piles of children to fun-time events all around the city.

In our house, it's particularly difficult. Katherine and I work from home, so we really can't have our children treating the place as if they live here, except after six and at weekends. Sadly, we not untypical.

My suggestion is that instead of trying to cram the 12 most exciting events your child can possibly imagine into one hyperactive holiday, working parents should get together and nominate one house for multiple child occupation each day. In this one kitchen, children can moon around and ask if there's anything to eat. In this bedroom, they can lock themselves away and refuse to come down when it's lunch time. They can even sit in the front room gazing out the window and complain from time to time about having nothing to do.

There would be, of course, a different venue each day to allow each set of parents to get on with their lives.

Try it this Easter. See if it works.

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