Instead I have been trying to find things that they can do at home and ways that they can occupy themselves. Some of these have involved buying them things to do and others involve them finding things to occupy themselves with.
Like kids across the country, my children have gotten into loom bands in a big way - these are colourful little rubber bands that are woven into bracelets. I thought the novelty would wear off soon and it would be one more toy that every house with children has stashed in the back of a cupboard or in the bin, but the ingenuity children show with these has surprised me.
Darling trying to help her sister
The boys have both made me bracelets, but it is Little Lady who is really hooked. She got the girls in her class to help make bracelets in the Palestinian colours to sell to raise money for Gaza (like the one she is wearing below) and they made quite a bit of money. In the holidays, she made some in the colours of the Pakistani flag to sell on Pakistani Independence Day (14th of August) which is celebrated locally by the Pakistani population by blocking all traffic, hanging around on the street waving flags and making a racket till 2am in the morning. She sold quite a few and made herself some pocket money (which she later partly spent at a boot fair).
Apart from bracelets, the children have been experimenting with making charms and 3D objects like the lollipop and strawberry below, which my neighbour showed her how to make.
Little Lady is clearly quite proud of her creations, because I found the images above and below on my phone.
Another activity that has kept us busy is scrap-booking. I had a big collection of lovely emel magazines which I haven't been able to part with. With another addition to our family imminent insh'Allah, I decided it was time to clear the shelf these lived on and move the children's Islamic books onto instead.
There are a couple of years worth, so we have been doing a few at a time as I cannot sit comfortably for long. The process involves me checking through from cover to cover to remove any Arabic text that is from the Quran or has the name of Allah (SWT) or our beloved Prophet (saw). This is put aside where it won't be treated disrespectfully. Then I get first dibs on images and artwork in the magazines. I've also been keeping some of the recipe pages to try later. Little Lady then works her way through and takes any images she would like ( mostly fashion, decor, landscapes, masjids from around the world and art) and sets asides pictures her brothers might want (mainly cars, animals, landscapes and more cars).
This is my stash of beautiful images which I have set aside for now to use for art journalling in my gratitude journal insh'Allah and for an old scrapbook I have that I use for inspiration (or maybe just eye candy)
I bought the boys cheap scrapbooks from Wilkinsons (80p) and glue sticks and Little Lady got a slightly better one from Rymans, same as the one I use. To compensate, I let the boys choose sketch books. Gorgeous has been neglecting his but Little Man has been trying out his watercolour pencils in his (you can tell he has been reading superhero comics from the captions in the picture below).
One of my life-savers this holiday has been books. Little Lady has always been an avid reader, but over the last year the boys have gotten hooked too, something I am immensely grateful and overjoyed about. All three joined the summer reading challenge at the local library and the limit of 12 books doesn't seem to be enough for the week, especially for Gorgeous who starts reading before we leave the library and finishes his pile by the end of the day.
Other things have included trying to establish a routine of salah for Little Man, hubby has been great and takes him to the masjid with him for some of the prayers each day. It's been a bit more challenging than for Little Lady whose Arabic teacher was very strict about the girls praying their five daily prayers and who just got on with it. This time there's been more work for me monitoring whether he has actually prayed when his dad isn't there or if he has done his wudhu (ablutions) properly (oh the joy of never ending tales about "muu-um, she/he has to do her wudhu again, I know he/she farted).
Generally they have been occupied with their crafts, reading, bikes and trips to the park. Every now and again I get a complaint of boredom, which I have been giving short thrift. I am very clear that it is not my job to entertain my children. They have to find things they like doing and do them. I believe if they learn to occupy themselves with their own interests, they will be set for life doing fun, fascinating and productive things. I can never understand adults who say they are bored when there aren't enough hours in the day to do fun or interesting things and I don't want my children to be like that.
Of course occupying themselves hasn't always meant productive, creative or learning things. Gorgeous borrowed my spray paints and decided to have fun in the garden , so there are silver and gold patches on the floor and table that sparkle in the sun. He also borrowed one of his dad's rubber stamps and got stamp-happy in various places around the house (reception carpet, kitchen wall, his white top). That doesn't include the various things I haven't found out about yet.
There has also been more than enough of this, although there's a bit of a thin line between when they are playing or actually angry with each other:
When Darling was tiny it used to upset her, but now she is in with the best of them, climbing over her brothers or trying to join in.