10 ways to keep the kids busy this Easter
Arlene Harris has some ideas for keeping the children busy over the holidays
The Easter holidays have arrived, and with two weeks of bored children stretching out in front of us, parents would be wise to have some sort of entertainment up their sleeves.
While many kids are happy playing with their friends in the garden, watching TV or staring at a computer screen, there is nothing like a nice family day out to build memories and take adults and children alike away from the humdrum of daily life.
With this in mind, we've put together a list of ideas to help you and yours spend some quality time together over the break.
The National Wax Museum, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Suitable for all ages, but the Chamber of Horror is not recommended for children under 16. €8 children over 8/ €12 adults/€35 family
This is a great museum with loads for kids to see and do. From the light-hearted exhibits of music and entertainment to the educational science and discovery and Kids World and on to the more grown-up sections of Irish writers, Time Vaults and the obligatory Chamber of Horror, it's for the whole family.
The scary part isn't suitable for young children, but pre-teens will probably enjoy its ghoulish theme while the smaller ones can unleash their hidden talents by making a music video in the Wax Factor. Put this one on your list for the next rainy day.
www.waxmuseumplus.ie 01 671 8373
Funtasia Waterpark Drogheda and Bettystown. Suitable for all ages. From €16.50
We all know that we can't rely on the weather, so indoor activities are always a good idea. Funtasia Drogheda is a great place for kids of all ages to let off steam in the pool, down the waterslides and playing with inflatables.
For those who want to stay dry there is also the option of playing bowling, crazy golf and even rock climbing, and at Bettystown they can enjoy a whole host of exhilarating rides.
www.funtasia.ie 041 9898000, 041 9828301
Airfield Farm, Dundrum, Dublin 14. Suitable for all ages. €5 children/€10 adults/family tickets available
Set up in 1974 by the Overend family, this 38-acre working farm is the perfect place to give city children a glimpse of rural life. Visitors can see the Jersey cows being milked or watch the eggs being collected each morning.
This beautiful place is a haven for wildlife and plants and children and adults alike will enjoy the tranquillity and lush surroundings of the woodlands, the ancient hedgerow and the wild pond. There are also hands-on exhibits and for any budding petrolheads, a trio of vintage cars. All in all a great day out.
The National Reptile Zoo, Gowran, Co Kilkenny. Suitable for all ages. €7.50 children over 2/€9.90 adults/€27 family
Set up by adventurer and herpetologist James Hennessy in 2006, this is Ireland's only reptile conservation zoo. Anyone with an interest in cold-blooded creatures will enjoy this day out as there are 50 unique species of reptiles and amphibians to be seen here, including snakes, lizards, crocodiles, alligators, scorpions, salamanders and tortoises.
The zoo employs a "conservation through education" ethos and visitors will leave the venue with a much greater understanding of these unusual and exotic creatures - and seeing them in the flesh may even cure some of us of our fear of scaly beasts.
www.reptilevillage.net 056 7726 757
Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum, Dublin 11. Suitable for most ages, but not the very young. Museum and cemetery tour €8
Taking your kids to a cemetery might seem like a strange thing to do, but Glasnevin is different. The final resting place of almost 1.5 million people, it holds so many secrets and stories of famous people and civilians from days gone by.
Every gravestone has a story to tell and visitors feel almost overawed by the history and life stories contained within its surrounds. There are three main areas - the City of the Dead, the Prospect Gallery and the Milestone Gallery, and while it may be a little macabre for younger visitors, schoolchildren will most likely enjoy the tour.
www.glasnevintrust.ie 01 882 6550
Rathwood Easter train, Rath, Tullow, Co Carlow. Suitable for all ages. €10 child/€6 adult
Head to Carlow to take a trip on the Easter express at Rathwood - with an egg hunt and a visit from the Easter bunny, this venue will really get you in the festive mood.
All children will receive a chocolate egg to take home, and if you want to get away from the crowds, head to the maze, the deer park or the woodlands falconry. And if none of this is your bag, you can grab a bite to eat in the Rathwood restaurant or even window shop for garden furniture.
www.rathwood.com 059 915 6285
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin. Suitable for all ages. €3 children /€7 adults/€17 family
This historic jail is a gateway to the past, and children of every age will be fascinated to hear of its famous inhabitants and the many historical events that took place inside the thick stone walls.
Most of us will have heard of Kilmainham but won't have taken the time to visit, so use the kids as an excuse to take a step back in time.
www.heritageireland.ie 01 453 5984
Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, Co Kildare. Suitable for all ages. €7 children/€9 adults/€28 family
For anyone worrying that the kids might be missing out on their schoolwork over the holidays, there are lots of educational aspects here, from the contrasts between John Doorly House (built for the bi-centenary of the Rebellion in 1998) and the mud-wall cottage to the Stone Age settlement and early Christian exhibition, it's a walk through time.
The park is also home to Ireland's first biodiversity trail which takes you through bog and lakelands to discover all manner of wildlife. There is also a Fairy Bush and space for children to let off steam, as well as an on-site cafe.
www.lullymoreheritagepark.com 045 870 238
Awesome Walls, Finglas, Dublin. Suitable for ages 6 and up. Taster session €20 children, €25 adult
If your children are driving you up the walls, why not send them up there instead? Awesome Walls is a great place for them to burn off energy under the watchful eye of the instructors.
Your kids can scale new heights and get fit at the same time. You can either harness up and join them or sit back and have a coffee.
www.awesomewalls.ie 01 880 0088
Sea Safari Tours, Dublin Port. Suitable for all over 8. €12.50 child/€20 adult
Anyone with sea legs will enjoy a tour of the Liffey and port area. As one of the world's busiest ports, all manner of vessels can be seen on this two-hour trip.
Kitted out with life jackets, passengers will need to hold on to their hats as they whizz about the bay checking out the marine activity.
www.seasafari.ie 01 668 9802
Having lost fun at home
If you can't get out and about this Easter, don't worry - there are plenty of activities you can do with your children at home. Child psychologist Peadar Maxwell has a few ideas:
l Easter is a great time to revisit old traditions or establish new activities for your family such as boiling and painting real eggs. I have done this for years with my three children and they still love it. Not only does your child of any age get to participate in a fun, creative activity of painting their unique design on an egg, but you can follow-up with hiding the eggs on Easter morning as a game and then use them to make devilled eggs for your Easter lunch.
l Any kind of craft can be fun, especially for younger children. You can make Easter decorations with egg cartons or bunny finger puppets with card paper. For older children this may mean helping the younger ones or it could mean planning and helping with the Easter meal.
l Parents sometimes struggle to come up with low-cost entertainment for their older child, and sometimes the solution is so simple that we either overlook
it or assume they won't be interested. Activities could include cooking
their favourite meal or dessert, playing cards,
planning a cinema night in with a film of your teen's choice and homemade popcorn. Or it could be a board games afternoon or making a big deal of a sporting event on TV.
l Older children and teens can earn some pocket money or a privilege for helping to clear up the winter mess in the garden. Or if your budget allows it, get the kids involved in a project like repainting a room or doing some repairs.
"Parents can either reward their children's housework over the school break with a takeaway or take the time to make homemade pizzas where your older child gets to be the family chef for the night and experience the joy and fulfilment of their family loving the feast," advises Maxwell.
"Either way, do think ahead about how your children can get bored over the school holidays and how this can lead to squabbling and trouble.
"Anticipate this as normal and plan alternatives that can be low-cost and don't involve screens."