Summer days. A perfect way to kick back in the garden and chill with the kids. With the swings, trampoline and obligatory paddling pool, I was all set for a day watching my two from the patio table. But it didn't go to plan. Hello two kids who get bored quickly. So, that meant having to steer away from the norm and think up some alternative ways to get them playing while I tanned. Here’s just a few of the lifesavers.

1. Make them think they’re winning

My two year old loves kitchen utensils. Wooden spoons, pots, pans...you name it, she grabs it. So what’s a mum to do when she just wants to chill out in the sun? Be sneaky. I grabbed the biggest pot I could find, filled it with water, gave her some wooden spoons and eggs cups, then chucked in her fave bath toys for good measure. Guess what? She thought I’d given in and let her play with the forbidden stuff. It kept her happy on the grass for hours. #byebyepaddlingpool

2. Make use of your patio

Hands up who hates the mess indoor painting causes? I can’t even… So just bring the mess outside. Grab an old sheet, get the paints and let them craft away for hours. When you’re done, just wash down your patio (and probably the kids too) with the hose. Just don’t forget to keep them shaded and that sun hat.

3. Make them feel all ‘grown up’

My two love doing things that make them feel like they’re helping out. So I totally took advantage of this when it came to keeping them happy outdoors, looking for chores for them to do. Want a mini gardener? We’ve got just the thing. Briers do a whole range of mini-gardening rakes and spades, which are great for little hands. Or, take it a step further. Sembra Kids have a whole host of planting kits that encourage kids to grow their own fruit and veg. Encouraging them to water it so it grows...well that’s a couple more minutes of keeping them busy.

4. Think out (or in) the box…

I’ve steered away from sandpit tables ever since the now 6 year old found cat poo in his a couple of years back. But now, it seems it’s the thing they both want 🙄. The alternative? Grab a plastic storage box and stick in the sand. The box is easy to take inside and cover, so they'll never play in cold, mushy, cat poo covered sand again. And remember, you don’t have to buy new bucket and spades either. Just reuse the ones you have for the beach. Want to keep it all in one box? There's stuff for that. Scrunch do a range of foldable buckets, which can be squeezed into any space - including that now sandbox. Boom.

5. Keep it all in one place

We live in a house that has steep stairs from the patio to the garden that my two year old loves trying to climb. It means that if one wants a drink I have to cart them both inside and distract them from their playtime. So, I make sure I don’t break their concentration and keep them in the zone by taking out their snacks and drinks before the day starts in an insulated lunchbox. This Sunnylife Kids Lunch Tote Bag is great pick. Large enough to store their drinks and snacks, just pop in an ice pack and you’re good for a few hours at least. Sadly it doesn’t fit a bottle of wine, I tried…

6. Chalk it up

Ahh chalk. It’s my new best friend at the moment. We’ve used it for nearly everything during our garden days, from drawing out garden games such as hopscotch, to making roads both the kids can use to zoom their cars on. And of course, it’s great for giving them some art time too… who doesn’t love to draw on the patio? We love these cool Sunnylife Jumbo Chalks, which are chunky enough for my two year old to hold. And they’re less likely to snap. Yass!

So there you go. Some cool tips to help you chill and let them play during those garden days. As always we’ve listed some helpful kit below. You know what to do…