Autumn, wrote the poet John Keats, is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. To the fathers of young children, it can seem like the season of staying in and wondering how on earth to keep them entertained. Autumn activities can be so much more…
On the surface, autumn doesn’t seem to have much going for it. Christmas is still months away, and the carefree days of summer suddenly feel a long time ago. The weather takes a turn for the worse. Nights get darker and longer.
Don’t despair. Every season has its appeal and autumn is no different. In fact, autumn can be a season of fun, if you know how to make the most of it. Here are a few tips.
Rain? Wind? Get out anyway
We keep banging on about this on DaddiLife and with good reason. Getting out is good for you, in rain, wind or one of autumn’s delightfully unexpected sun-kissed days.
But really, don’t wait for good weather. Get waterproofs for yourself and the kids and get out in rain or shine, in park, playground or wood. Pick ripe blackberries from the bushes, kick through fallen leaves and watch the golden colours of autumn take hold. Give your kids a head start at school by talking about why seasons change and why days get shorter, right there in the middle of the world’s incredible metamorphosis, and with the evidence all around.
Make it spooky
Autumn is the season to be spooked, and both kids and adults love to be spine-tinglingly scared – at least a little bit. There’s Halloween, of course, and you can make the most of it with trick-a-treating and bobbing for apples. But you don’t have to wait for the end of October.
Why not use those dark autumn evenings to tell child-friendly ghost stories? If your kids are a little older, take them out walking as dusk falls and tell them tall tales of murderous highwaymen, vengeful ghosts and fiendish demons. Guy Fawkes is a truly horrible history lesson for this time of year.
Cosy and cuddly
And when you get in from kicking leaves or fleeing from zombies, get cosy. Kids love it. Cuddle up on the sofa with a warm blanket and a favourite film.
Or why not get out the summer holiday snaps and spend an evening reliving all the fun? It’s a great way to keep the holiday feeling alive, even as rain batters against the window.
Make any evening or weekend afternoon feel special with warming drinks like hot chocolate or hot (alcohol-free) apple cider. In fact, the ‘mellow fruitfulness’ of autumn makes it a great season for comfort food. Fruit crumbles are easy and everyone loves them. Apple pies make the most of autumn’s bounty, or you can dip the apples in toffee for a sticky autumnal treat. Use the innards of Halloween pumpkins for delicious soups or sweet pies.
Board games are a great way to while away inclement afternoons, and reading children’s classics together – a lovely thing to do anytime – is a wonderful pastime for dark, chilly evenings, when you can snuggle up on the sofa, dim the lights and read all about the incredible exploits of Bilbo Baggins or Mole, Ratty and Badger.
Play in, play out
Inevitably, some of the fun has to migrate indoors during the damper, more blustery days of autumn. No matter. Check out the local cinema for treat days. Soft play centres can be loads of fun for children while also getting them climbing, clambering and running about.
But don’t batten down the hatches against the outside world. A walk in an autumnal wood can be energising and great fun. The weather may be cool but it isn’t freezing. Grab every opportunity to build dens or climb on rocks. On better days let the kids bury you in crisp fallen leaves. Winter is coming, but it isn’t here yet.
How will you make the most of the autumn activities, dad?