Remember the summers when you were child in the 70s and 80s? The sun always seemed to shine, I had my bike, the playground, and my friends on the estate to play with. I'd go out in the morning, pop back for lunch, and then my mother wouldn't see me until teatime when I came home with a couple of scraped knees, mud all over me, a few hundred more freckles and a big grin on my face. No mobile phones, no panic, no boredom. We made our own fun because we had to, and kids today seem to struggle with that.
As I got older I was allowed to walk into town with my friends to go window shopping, or to the cinema or swimming. We made our own fun, because we had nothing else to do.
I really am starting to think that the more choice they have, the harder the choice is. My kids have got Facebook, Skype, iPods, iPhones, Blackberrys, Spotify, iTunes, Wiis, Nintendos, iPlayer, and hundreds of TV channels available 24 hours a day. But they're bored.
On your bike
I was determined to get my brood out of the house this summer and managed quite well - despite the awful weather we've been having. I got the bike carrier out of the shed and pencilled in some dairy dates - dependent on a sunny day - to get us all off on a few cycling trips to some of our favourite places. I have to say the 'Bradley Wiggins phenomenon' has helped with the enthusiasm for cycling again and it had revived a very welcome past-time in our house.
I've sorted out a 'Teen Bus Pass' for child number one, which has given him unlimited and cheap freedom to meet friends, go swimming, visit the skate park in town and generally enjoy a bit of freedom and independence without mum. It saves on my time and petrol bill too.
The matchbox challenge
I love doing this even now. It's a wonderful way to keep smaller children busy, and they could learn something too if they do this outdoors in a garden or a park. Give each child a matchbox and tell them to find and put as many tiny things in it as they can. Offer a prize for the winner. You can play this game outdoors or in the house. You'll be amazed at what you can fit into a matchbox. A paperclip, strand of hair, a rice crispie, or a leaf, petal or an ant.
Garden camping sleepover
Another old favourite is to let them have a 'camp out' in the garden. It's a bit of an adventure for them, they're not far from you, and the loo and snack cupboard are within easy reach. Get the tent up, friends can bring their sleeping bags, you can do a burger and hotdog supper and give them a stash of sweets and snacks for a 'midnight feast'. Make sure they have enough to keep them warm - it gets cold in the early hours - and torches with new batteries. It may help to have a talk with them about night time creatures that may creep around outside the tent - and the moths they could attract with their torches. You don't want to frighten them off but it's better to let them know what to expect rather than have them wake the neighbours with their screams when a hedgehog rustles by.
The best part about having a garden camp sleepover is that they're so shattered in the morning from lack of sleep that you can have a lie in yourself!
The key is to get them outside and with their friends instead of letting them spend every day of their free time slouching on the sofa.