Guest Post by Lisa Bradburn
Another sunny weekend passes and we’re a week closer to our holidays. I can’t wait to get away this year. My business has reached an unprecedented high and as jubilant as I am, it’s left me breathless and I need a break!
My friends and family call me ‘the toy hunter’ – I hunt down unique gifts for children – and the title rings true even when I’m on holiday…or perhaps especially when I’m on holiday.
While work is never far from any business owner’s mind, when I’m on holiday I come face-to-face with the toys children play with and the activities they favour. As I’m always on the lookout for something new and original, taking a vacation to the beach or a campsite means children will be nearby and that inevitably throws up dozens of new ideas.
This year, I’m captivated by ‘pre-teens’. Like the ‘terrible twos’, pre-teens have been categorised by awkward emotions and demands for things (especially responsibilities) beyond their years.
Taking opportunity to chat to Anna, a friend’s 12 year old daughter ahead of our holidays, I asked her what she and her friends would take away with them. My aim was to enlighten myself and all parents, and to provide a packing list beyond the ordinary that caters to their imaginations, emotions and the latest trends.
Here’s what Anna and I came up with for both boys and girls. What would you add?
If you’ve been eclipsed by Loom Bands I congratulate you. They’re everywhere – and they get everywhere. Every parent I speak to complains about the tiny, multicoloured Loom Bands littering their homes.
But Anna reassured me jewellery kits are a great holiday idea for pre-teen girls. They require concentration, creativity and practice which means your girls will be occupied for hours.
No school means painted nails are finally permissible. With stickers as well as polish available and space-saving kits that take up no room in the suitcase, this is a clever addition to the packing list. If nail polish is a no-no during term time in your household, as it is in mine, this is a really special holiday treat.
Both educational and relaxing, you can’t beat a good holiday read. Books can also be a great bonding opportunity. The Harry Potter series is technically for teenagers but I couldn’t put them down! Some of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy-themed books offer thrilling storylines for teenagers and adults alike. Just make sure you have enough book marks for everyone who’s trying to read the same book!
Football and tennis were high on the agenda for Anna and her friends, too. Swimming kits and trainers were an essential part of the fun. This makes me think it would be great to add water bombs to the suitcase for a fun-filled poolside afternoon in sunnier climes.
Eek! The awkward subject of screen time! Unstructured and unlimited, screen time can be damaging for all – and that goes for parents as well as pre-teens. But there’s no doubt that focused time in front of a screen (be it the TV, computer or indeed a Nintendo or PSP) can be a good way to switch off. I love an amble through Pinterest at the weekend. With dozens of activities available during the holidays, packing a computer game might not be such a bad idea. How do you handle screen-time when you’re away?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this list – what would you add to ensure your pre-teens remain entertained?
*Lisa Bradburn is the managing director of what2buy4kids – a place to find quality, unusual gifts for kids. Lisa built her business out of first-hand frustration at the lack of interesting and available gift ideas for children. Now, she hunts them down so you don’t have to and provides endless entertainment inspiration for children of all ages*
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