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Friday 9 June 2023 Dublin: 13°C
7 'child-friendly' activities that are a total nightmare in reality
Baking with a four-year-old seems like a great idea until you’re cleaning cake mix off the ceiling, writes Ciara McDonnell.

THE WEATHER IS growing colder and our ability to shove the children outdoors in search of fresh air and fun times may be somewhat curtailed over the coming months.

Time to move things indoors. I have almost eight years of mediocre parenting under my belt, and as such, have tried and tested many “family-friendly” activities over the years.

Some will lead to half an hour of sheer bliss. The children will laugh with abandon, you will be jokey and fancy-free, passing “game snacks” around the table as you exchange a look with your partner that says, “We did great, didn’t we? Look at what excellent parents and all round human beings we are.”

Others will have quite the opposite effect. One child will burrow underneath the couch, shrieking at the unfairness of it all, as another will rip their top off while doing a victory lap around the house. You will sweat as you exchange a look with your partner that says, “Why did we ever think this was a good idea? We are TERRIBLE parents and even worse human beings.”

Here are some of the worst offenders – the ones that I’d advise avoiding. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

1. Science experiments

The idea of building a volcano always seems like a brilliant idea – who doesn’t like exploding things, right? When faced with a giant bottle of brown vinegar and the same of fizzy drink exploding all over your house and leaving sticky, stinky tracks in its wake, I guarantee you, it’s not a positive move. 

2. Baking anything

Look, there’s no denying that teaching your children skills in the kitchen will pay dividends in the long run, but if you suffer from clean-freakery at all, then I advise against it. There will be blobs of cake mix on the counter, on the doors – on the ceiling. There will be crunches of egg-shell in the cake and tantrums when you won’t let them put the cake in the oven. You will cry, but they’ll absolutely love it.

shutterstock_1045963186 Shutterstock / Studio number 94 Shutterstock / Studio number 94 / Studio number 94

3. Large scale Lego structures

As the proud owners of a Titanic replica made entirely of coloured blocks that Santa brought us last year as a family gift (THANKS SANTA), I can confirm that the only way to get through a mega Lego set is with a child who knows what they are doing. Follow their lead, do not try to boss them around, and you might come out unscathed.

4. DIY-ing slime

While allowing my children to make gold slime recently, I discovered that the colouring agent does in fact stain surfaces. YAY! After realising, I sent the kids outside, where the gold slime left a glittering trail on the tarmac… that WILL NOT SCRUB OUT. 

shutterstock_753013171 Shutterstock / Ory Gonian Shutterstock / Ory Gonian / Ory Gonian

5. Playing card games as a family

We play a pretty competitive game of Go Fish in our house. If we are all not sufficiently fed and watered before and during the game, it inevitably descends into snotty tears and roaring – and that’s just the adults. Our youngest son will now only play Go Fish with us while hiding behind the couch, because he is convinced of our ultra-cheating abilities.

6. Or board games, for that matter

See above. If the parents are ultra competitive, it stands to reason that their offspring will be too. For us, that results in stand-up screaming rows over who cheated on Snakes and Ladders and when.  

shutterstock_1049035649 Shutterstock / StanislauV Shutterstock / StanislauV / StanislauV

7. Indoor ball games

No matter how ‘soft’ it appears to be, a ball booted by a small child is a danger to anything around it, be it the television, Granny’s glassware or an antique clock. Kids have a homing instinct when it comes to this kind of destruction, so best leave well alone. 

Want to win a brilliant day of book-filled family fun at Dubray StoryFest? Get your hands on one of two family passes here – and sign up for our Family Newsletter below!

More: 12 genius phrases to stop the kids squabbling in two seconds flat>

More: 9 annoying types of adult you’re guaranteed to meet at the local playground>

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