Leona O'Neill: Boredom is a blight on the holidays
Just two weeks into the school summer holidays, keeping her kids entertained is already proving to be an expensive business for Leona O'Neill. However, she has a plan to stem the relentless haemorrhaging of cash
IF YOU’VE got school age kids, beware – hide under the stairs, or in a soundproof room if you are lucky enough have one fitted in your home.
According to research, boredom levels among children will peak today, fourteen days into the summer school holidays.
My children first complained about boredom an hour into the school holidays and the level of complaining has increased steadily in the two weeks since. I am genuinely fearful of what today might bring.
I expect advanced irritability, increased levels of tension, a higher than normal volume of complaints and many long and laboured sighs, as well as much eye rolling and informing people that "they don’t understand" and that there is "absolutely nothing to do".
At this stage, two weeks in, many parents would pay good money for someone to entertain their children and stop the relentless complaining that despite having a house full of mobile devices and games consoles, footballs, TVs, sports equipment and other children’s play-themed paraphernalia, they are bored to death.
And that is where the danger to spend lots of money lies for many parents.
According to the same research – carried out by the National Citizen Service – it will cost the average parent up to £3,600 to entertain bored kids, particularly teenagers, this summer. And that price does not include the cash needed to ward off hunger – as in feed them every 10 minutes when the hunger pangs hit – during the summer months.
The research found that in particular teenagers were the hardest and most expensive group to keep happy and entertained during the summer, with a vast majority of them looking to us parents to plan and fund their many activities.
Of 1,000 15 to 17-year-olds quizzed, six per cent of them said they expect parents to fork out at least £300 per week for their entertainment.
And two per cent of the group, presumably young members of the Royal Family or Richard Branson’s clan or the Hilton family with a little more cash to splash, said their parents would be spending over £600 per week on them over the summer months. Presumably this money is spent on trips on yachts or at one shop on a fancy designer T-shirt.
The same research broke down, hour by hour, what our teens will do over the summer months.
Apparently they will spend 113 hours hanging with their pals; 100 hours hanging with their family; almost the same amount of hours hanging on social media and a staggering 84 hours having a snooze during the day, probably because they are flat-out exhausted being super-bored.
Our teens will spend 79 hours this summer watching films and some 75 hours watching box-sets. They will spend 74 hours on their games consoles and just 60 hours out in the street or neighbourhood.
Notable by its absence was the number of hours complaining about being bored, eating all the food in the house and then complaining that there was nothing to eat in the house and also the number of hours spent rolling their eyes,
Kids obviously adore the summer holidays but I can fully understand why parents sometimes dread July and August and the extra strain on the purse it brings. The handing over of money is positively relentless.
My son has been at a swimming and sports camp now for a week, my other boys have been at a football camp. My daughter attended an arts and crafts summer camp. Over £100 put down in a week and there are six more weeks left to go.
I think I will turn this on its head and create some manner of camp for parents to help them cope with spending too much money on kid’s summer camps while teaching them coping techniques for the relentless ‘I’m bored’ mantras that occur during July and August.
I will make a fortune.