Long gone are pre-kid summer days when garden fun meant a book and a sun-drenched patio. With mini me's swarming at your ankles, fun in the sun needs to be meticulously planned to keep them occupied. Between all of us, we've pulled out our top boredom busters, guaranteed to keep them busy and give you five minutes peace too...

MAKE THEM THINK THEY'RE WINNING

Toddlers and pre-schoolers love playing with 'proper' kitchen utensils, so set up some water play fun outside and let them use all those fun spoons, spatulas and pans that you usually keep hidden behind child-locks. Grab a big pot of water, add in some wooden utensils and maybe even some fun bath toys for good measure. There's something about being allowed to play with the forbidden stuff that keeps them happy for hours...

USE YOUR PATIO

Hands up who hates the mess indoor painting causes? When the weather is fine, you can take their art classes outside no problem. Grab an old sheet, get the paints out and let them craft away for hours. Want to minimise the mess? Take their easel outside or let them paint the patio using a brush and water. Just don’t forget to keep little artists protected with their summer essential hats and sunnies.

HELP THEM FEEL ALL GROWN UP

Ask a kid to tidy up inside and they will likely have a moan, but give them a mini rake or brush and they'll gladly tidy up the garden for ages. Janod's garden range for preschoolers are perfectly sized for them to use. They'll love the wheelbarrow, spade and gardener playset, just don't forget to show them which beds not to dig. Want to encourage their green-fingered ways further? Sembra Kids' seed kits help them to grow their first flowers and tasty crops... they'll be bursting with pride when they are able to pick their first homegrown strawb.

THINK OUT (OR IN) THE BOX

We aren't all fans of sandpits here after a few cat poos incidents, but obviously little ones can't get enough of it... sand we mean. As an alternative to an open pit, use a lidded storage box that is easy to carry outside when they want to get digging. We stock some awesome, silicone buckets by Scrunch that can be squeezed down to store in the sand box as well and there are loads of other shapers to get them making some impressive sand play sculptures as well.

CHALK IT UP

Chalk is so good for getting them busy outside, from drawing hopscotch on the garden path, designing roads for them to zoom their cars over or tracing their outline on the ground, for them to colour in the lines. Got a garden wall that is looking neglected? Measure out an area, apply chalkboard paint and stick on a frame for a quirky place to get designing. We love these cool Butterstix Chalks, which feel part chalk, part crayon and are great for using outside. You don't even need to worry about cleaning up either, just wait until it rains. β˜”

KEEP IT ALL IN ONE PLACE

Once you get them in the garden, you'll want to make sure they've got happy tummys and are well-hydrated. A picnic on the lawn is magical for a little one and saves you from disturbing the outside fun as well. You can pack a lunchbox for them to graze on through the day and we love insulated bottles that keep liquid cool for hours. Pura and Liewood have stylish steel designs that are a great alternative to plastic, plus they keep drinks fridge-cold for ages.

So there you go. Some cool tips to help you chill and encourage them to play during those garden days. As always we’ve listed our top picks below or you can check out our outdoor category here.