Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Kerry McLean: Why my children are boxing clever when it comes to creating their own summer fun

By Kerry McLean

I was born without the shopping gene. Either that or endless Saturday trips around the stores, following in the unbearably slow wake of my mother and grandmother, burnt out any interest I might once have had.

I spent hours as a child, stumbling behind them as they perused every clothes rail in every clothes shop in town.

I also spent what felt like months, sprawled in despair on the changing room floor, hidden behind heavy curtains with them as they tried on the latest fashions.

Now as an adult, I still keep up the visits to the shops with my mum and granny at the weekend and I try my hardest to feign an interest in the racks and rows of clothes and shoes on show.

Partly because, while the task may not be of my choosing, the company is, especially now we've been joined by my teenage daughter, who's showing more of a sense of style than I ever had.

I love watching three of the most important women in my life doing something they enjoy, but still, there's no escaping the truth - my heart is just not in it.

For me, the quick search and click on an internet engine seems so much more appealing. No hanging about, no fighting the crowds and no accidentally buying more than you intended when you spot something gorgeous, thereby sending your bank account into a lovely shade of crimson.

Compare that to sitting in bed at night, jammies on, cup of tea on the go and a tap or two on the smartphone to get what you need delivered straight to your door in three to five working days.

For me, there's no competition, especially when the thing I'm after weighs a ton or is half the size of me. Which is why, when I discovered that my washing machine had chewed up and spat out our double sleeping bag, I hopped online to order a new one in time for our next camping trip away with the kids.

Just two days later I heard a knock at the door, and when I answered it, I discovered what seemed to be a massive cardboard box with two wee legs hanging from the bottom of it standing on my step.

The delivery driver and owner of the legs struggled to get the box into the house, not because it weighed a lot but because of the sheer size of it.

When I opened it, I discovered my sleeping bag, languishing in a corner, in a space bigger than the bedsit I lived in during my years working in London. It seemed to be a terrible waste of cardboard until my youngest two caught sight of it.

They dragged it from the hall into the kitchen and for the next few hours all thoughts of watching television or playing the Xbox went out of their heads as they climbed in and out of the packaging, creating worlds and having adventures.

That simple buff-coloured box became an aeroplane, a car, a rocket and even a dinosaur. The only rows and ructions we had that evening weren't over the usual issues like brushing teeth ( the baby hates it) or washing faces (my son has the reactions of a cat when it comes to getting wet).

Instead the only struggle we faced was trying to prise the two of them out of it to go to bed, insisting, as they did, that they wanted to go to sleep downstairs in their new-found favourite toy.

The next day, they were up with the birds, back in the box with a whole host of paints and stickers, decorating what they had declared their new clubhouse.

It's now a colourful mash-up of green, yellow and bright red poster paints, as are various spots on the carpet all around it.

Not that I'm complaining. As any parent knows, the summer months can be expensive, filling our children's days with new activities or trips out.

So I'm delighted to have stumbled upon a cheap and cheerful solution that put a smile on their face and mine.

A smile that might even last through my next shopping expedition… but don't bet on it!

Belfast Telegraph

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