Mother of seven, Jen Hogan, offers advice on how to keep kids busy this summer, from old favourites to mini cine clubs.

The school holidays have arrived and, by this stage of the year, the break from the routine of lunch-making, uniform- sorting and school runs, not to mention torturous homework battles, is a welcome relief for most of us. A new challenge however, is on the horizon.

When the initial novelty of all this free time wears off, which unfortunately happens much sooner than we’d like, a new project of trying to find ways to occupy the kids, presents itself. As a mum of seven children, with a big age span to consider, finding something to keep everyone happy can prove quite the task.

Couple this with the typical Irish weather and the escape outdoors is not always an option. Taking this into account, here are a few suggestions of activities guaranteed to keep children of all ages happy over the long summer holidays, come rain or shine.

A step back in time

With a nostalgic reflection on our own childhoods, most of us remember playing games such as rounders, kick the can, bulldog, red rover hopscotch and skipping.

These were the sort of games that kept us occupied for hours, involved most of the children who lived nearby and made us almost too nervous to go back indoors, even to use the bathroom, for fear that our mothers would decide it was time to come in.

It’s definitely worth teaching your own children how to play these games too.

Not only is it wonderful exercise and something they can play together, it should also tire them out and guarantee a happily exhausted night’s sleep!

Cinema Kids Clubs:

Most cinemas, over the school holidays, run kids’ clubs particularly in the mornings, offering the chance to see a movie at a reduced price with popcorn and a drink possibly also on offer. A definite option for the rainy mornings and a little bit kinder on our pockets too!

Fota Wildlife Park

A favourite with everyone, Fota offers the opportunity to get much closer to the animals, see them being fed and also learn about the conservation role played by the park. With play areas, face painting, arts and crafts and coffee shops all on site, there is plenty to keep the entire family occupied for the whole day.

Home Baking

Even the domestically challenged goddesses among us (such as me), can manage some of the simpler creations.

Rice Krispie buns and fairy cakes always go down well here and kids are very willing helpers, or mess makers, take your pick.

Either way, they love to be involved in the creation process and the added bonus is the nice dessert that follows.

Croke Park

GAA enthusiasts are sure to love the Bord Gais Energy Legends Tour Series which takes place throughout the summer.

The tours give fans a chance to experience Croke Park from a different perspective, in the company of various GAA stars.

The tour involves a trip to the GAA museum where featured exhibitions include the original Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups.

Also to be experienced are the GAA hall of Fame and the Interactive Game Zone where everyone can test their football and hurling skills!

View this post on Instagram

Great view of #Howth from the #EtihadSkyline today! #Sunshine #whataview #LoveDublin @VisitDublin

A post shared by Croke Park Stadium (@crokepark_official) on

For more details, visit

Home-made Family Portraits

The perfect way to bring out your child’s artistic side. Encourage everyone in the house to draw a self portrait and make a collage with the pictures. An activity which includes everyone and a lovely momento.

Picnic on the beach

Most kids love the beach and even sand in their sandwiches won’t put the majority off. Wetsuits are a great way of getting around the fact that the weather here isn’t always tropical. They make the beach an option for most summer days.

Kilmainham Gaol

Especially for the year that’s in it. A trip to Kilmainham Gaol where the leaders of the Easter Rising were detained is bound to be of particular to interest to school-aged children.

Water fight

A messy one, but definitely one which crosses the age barrier. This can be as simple as a run around the back garden or involve more strategic planning, including dens, shelters, neighbours and hideouts.

Skellig Michael

If you have some budding Jedis on your hands, then Skellig Michael is one to consider. Renowned not only for its historic monastic settlement and a designated Unesco world heritage site, it’s also one of Ireland’s most important sites for breeding seabirds. As if all that wasn’t enough, it’s the ast location of Luke Skywalker and will feature in the next Star wars movie!

View this post on Instagram

Island on the edge of the world !

A post shared by Meghalika Panduru (@meghalika) on

May the force be with you.



Capturing the castle: Johnstown Castle in County Wexford is well worth checking out

How nature can work wonders for body and soul

Making Cents: Consumer guide to entering PcP car loan contracts

Podcast Corner: An introduction to podcasts

More From The Irish Examiner