It’s that time of year when parents walk around with The Fear – summer holidays are here again. But fear not, tech can help you through.
There was a time when schools broke up and Mum would hand the kids a space hopper and skateboard, then push them out the door and tell them to make their own fun. Thanks to increased traffic, street-corner drug dealers and paedophiles, those halcyon days are gone.
So how do parents now survive endless weeks of looking after their littl'uns? TrustedReviews is here to rescue you with some awesome tech suggestions.
WHAT TO BUY
You might not immediately see the sense in this suggestion. But trust me, by September you’ll be wondering whether or not it’s quicker to absorb caffeine through your eyeballs.
The school run is tiring. Holding down a job while raising children is tiring. Spending 24 hours a day with your kids for weeks at a time when you’re no longer used to it? That's a soul-sapping, brain-draining, eye-straining headfuck.
Copious amounts of coffee will help, and I’d recommend getting your fix of Joe via a manual espresso machine that gives you an excuse for spending extra time in the kitchen preparing, meditating, crying, and convulsing.
The stylish Gaggia Classic will do the job very nicely indeed, but if you fancy something more versatile and convenient, check out our Best Coffee Machines Round-up.
NERF Rival Zeus
At some point this summer you’re destined to become embroiled in a NERF war with the kids. Hell, it might not even be with your kids. Rather than getting all huffy and indignant because you’re caught in the crossfire, bust out a bigger gun than the rest of ’em. They’ll probably start crying and shouting about how unfair it all is, but life isn’t fair and the sooner they find that out, the better.
Anyway, who cares? You’ll be too busy popping out four rounds per second and laughing uncontrollably to notice the tears.
Bose QuietComfort 35
What’s that, darling? No, I can’t hear you. Listening to a motivational podcast and can’t stop now or I’ll lose the flow. Help yourself to a Capri-Sun and a pack of digestives, there’s a good lass.
Great noise-cancelling headphones like the QuietComfort 35 offer a barrier from the outside world – and boy are you gonna need it.
Lego Big Ben
Consider this a carrot. Not an actual carrot, obviously, but a metaphorical carrot for your metaphorical mules, i.e. your children, who ironically won’t eat a sodding carrot whether it’s raw, boiled, roasted or dipped in Nutella and covered in sprinkles.
If they’ve been good (or thereabouts) throughout the summer, you promise them this to build. Over 4,000 parts forming a blocky scale model of the Elizabeth Tower and part of the Palace of Westminster, which they’re still young and naive enough to think is a place of wonder.
Oh sure, Lego says its for ages 16 and over, but if you have older teens, they'll want nothing to do with you all summer – unless you happen to have a particularly healthy cannabis plant in the garden shed – which is problem solved. Just make sure your precious little darlings know how to WhatsApp you when they start choking on a clock hand...
Related: Best Lego Sets
Amazing! You’re an amazing parent! The best! But what they don’t know is that it’s really for you, that it’s a double-edged carrot. Not only do they have that constant threat of not earning their Lego to keep them in check all summer, but finally handing it over and shutting them in a room for an entire day of quiet concentration – possibly two, if you’re lucky – is going to be bliss. Thank you, Lego.
It’s always best to focus on the positives in any situation. (That’s what we’ve kept telling ourselves since the Brexit vote, eh? Ahem.)
In this case, counting down the days until school starts again isn’t quite as rewarding as checking how many steps you’ve taken around Legoland. And whether you trod farther in search of that foolishly promised Slush Puppy. Or on the rushed trip through the Science Museum afterwards that the kids didn’t give a frig about. Or... You get the idea.
All fitness trackers can handle simple step counting, of course, but the Moov Now can also offer stats for when you’re taking the kids swimming, cycling and, er, boxing over the holiday. Time to gamify your misery.
Haier WS50GDBI wine fridge
Because, well, just head back to the entry for the espresso machine above and replace every reference to coffee with the word “wine”.
OK, this is no small investment, but think of the benefits. This is the day you reclaim the lounge. No more giving up the comfy sofa so that your kids can watch Blaze and the Monster Machines or whatever trashy cartoon nonsense is the flavour of the week on some satellite-only TV channel.
Get a Sky Q Silver box for your lounge and add Sky Q Mini boxes to two other rooms, giving full Sky access to three TVs in the house. You can even watch Sky on up to two tablets and take recordings on the go to keep the children entertained on any long journeys.
No more fighting over who wants to watch what. Just peace. And a hefty monthly bill. But ah, the peace.
WHAT TO DO
Download Pokémon Go
If you can’t block ’em, join ’em. Everyone’s talking about Nintendo’s super-addictive mobile game for iOS and Android, and there’s a good chance your kids are already playing it. Here are our tips to get you started, and thanks to our handy Pokémon Go battle guide you should be sharing tricks with your little ones before long. Plus it’ll give you something to do on your umpteenth walk to the park.*
*TrustedReviews doesn’t condone neglecting care of your children. Unless you’re trying to catch a Dratini.
Join Games with Gold
Got an Xbox One? Kids bored by every game they’ve already got and badgering you to let them into the wild to play Pokémon Go, even though your feet are blistered and you should really do some washing up before the mould evolves into a flesh-eating terror beast? Sign up to Games with Gold.
July has seen the child-friendly Banner Saga 2, Tumblestone and Tron: Evolution added to the roster of free-to-play games, and there’s more to come in August to keep the gaming variety going all through summer.
Related: PS4 vs Xbox One
Send your kids to tech camp
Remember ’80s movie cheesefest SpaceCamp? (SPOILER ALERT) Annoying kids go to summer camp to learn about being an astronaut, then get sent into space by a ridiculously clever robot. Your children could be the ones to design that incompetent robot!
OK, maybe a simpler, better-functioning robot.
There are a load of cheap ways of getting kids into programming hardware, such as SAM Labs and Raspberry Pi – and you can even build a retro games console with the latter – but those solutions are a bit lone-wolf. Instead send them to an expert-led tech camp, such as Tech Camp London, for a day or even a week to learn the basics with a load of like-minded young geeks.
Best be nice to your children so they grow up to build you a Jetsons robo-servant rather than sending a T-800, yeah?
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How are you planning to survive the summer holidays? Let us know in the comments below.