Millions of parents are worrying how to keep their children entertained this summer – as holiday clubs remain closed and youngsters struggle to find things to do after already spending months at home away from their friends.
A study of 2,000 mums and dads found 69 per cent feel this year’s summer holidays will be harder than usual as they juggle working from home with looking after their children, and their offspring are unable to go to friends’ houses due to social distancing restrictions.
41 per cent are feeling the heat to keep their children busy as the summer holidays get underway.
Parents are also wary of letting their children spend too much time engaging in energy-consuming activities such as watching TV, playing on a games console or using a mobile phone. As a result, four in 10 are planning to encourage a digital detox for their kids this summer in a bid to save money on their household energy bills, with 24 per cent worried about their energy consumption during the holidays.
It also emerged half of parents (50 per cent) notice an increase in their energy bills over the summer holidays due to having the kids at home.
To inspire and help families, Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the research, has worked with Helen Skelton and The Wild Network to create 42 sustainable things to do over the summer holidays, including energy-free activities – an activity for each day of the holidays.
Helen Skelton said: “As a mother of two young boys who have been at home for most of lockdown, I know how hard it is to keep them entertained and occupied over the summer months.
“As a family, we really try to have at least one hour a day of energy-free time, and while we are outside a lot and away from devices as much as possible, it can sometimes be tricky to think of new things to do.
“One thing I’ve learnt during this time is that I can help them start to understand the importance of how we use energy at home and turn it into a fun thing to do – for example using my smart meter to have a competition to see which day of the summer holidays was the lowest and why.”
The study also found it’s not just using gadgets and devices which add to an increase of household energy use.
Children typically forget to turn off the lights or the television when they’re at home with more than a quarter not powering down a laptop, according to the OnePoll survey.
However, a third of parents admitted they’re as much to blame for leaving electricals on standby.
It also emerged that Wi-Fi routers, TVs and mobile phone chargers were the items most commonly left plugged in or on standby in the home.
But figures from Energy Saving Trust estimate families could save £14 over the summer holidays alone – just by turning appliances off standby and switching off lights when not in use.
That’s enough for six tubs of ice cream to share out at family picnics, or enough to replace your light bulbs with a couple of energy saving ones.
If all the households in Britain turned off their appliances and lights when not in use or on standby over the summer holidays, the money saved would be the equivalent of the weekly food shop for 4.5 million families.
The study also found 54 per cent of parents admitted their family will be spending more time at home during the summer holidays than usual this year.
Fflur Lawton, head of public affairs at Smart Energy GB said: “As a mum myself, I know parents are facing a new and unique challenge this summer – and keeping kids entertained who are already used to being at home is no mean feat.
“With many families opting to stay at home while school is out, increased energy use during the holidays may mean an increase in energy bills.
“But a simple way to better manage your usage is to get a smart meter installed.
“What’s more, households with a smart prepay tariff can easily see how much credit remains and can top up remotely – even if you’re keeping the kids amused at the park.”
The study also found that watching TV together, cooking and baking as a family and playing in the garden were some of the top things children will be doing over the school holidays.
But concerns about energy usage means 54 per cent of parents are keen to keep their kids entertained by exploring the outdoors.
Nearly half (47 per cent) are considering new activities they haven’t tried previously, such as providing the children with cheap quads for kids to entice them to have fun outdoors, with almost a third interested in encouraging the family to take up sustainable pursuits this summer.
Fflur Lawton added: “The 42 sustainable things to do have been designed to give parents and guardians some inspiration on how to keep the kids occupied while having some energy-free time and saving a few pounds in the process.
“There are some other steps parents can take to save money as they prepare for another six weeks of keeping their children occupied at home.
“Contacting their energy supplier about getting a smart meter installed will help to monitor and manage their energy consumption, and even reduce energy use, as well as helping Britain become carbon neutral by 2050.”
Go to https://www.smartenergygb.org/ to download the activities and get more information on how to manage your energy with a smart meter.
SUSTAINABLE WAYS TO KEEP THE KIDS HAPPY DURING THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS:
1. 42-day time capsule. See if you can put something in it for every one of the 42 days ahead to create a memory box of an unforgettable summer.
2. Conduct a sunlight experiment. How will plants grow in darker spaces compared to sunlit places, like on a windowsill? Choose two different environments and track your progress over the rest of the summer holidays.
3. Make a temporary dam. If you have a stream nearby, collect twigs, branches and stones to stop the flow of water. Just remember to remove the dam afterwards. No stream? Improvise at home.
4. Send a Haiku postcard. A Japanese poem formed of 3 lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively. Send it to someone you are missing over the summer.
5. Become an energy waste detective. Organise a family scavenger hunt to find unused appliances in your home that can be unplugged to save on energy waste. You can also monitor how much energy different items in your house use with a smart meter. Ask your parents who their energy supplier is and encourage them to request an installation.
6. Make a domino rally. Use everyday objects to build it and start an epic chain reaction.
7. Be a street artist. Paint a stone and leave them for others to find.
8. Make a pinwheel wind farm. Put your craft skills to the test and build some paper windmills. All you need is paper, scissors, a stick and a pin.
9. Go foraging. Local woodlands are perfect for encouraging the inner forager – so go explore with an adult. If you can’t forage outside – play a foraging style scavenger hunt at home.
10. Learn some sign language. Learn how to introduce yourself – and then challenge a friend to do the same.