7 ways to beat those autumn blues

Just because summer is over and the kids are back at school doesn't mean that the family fun has to end! Those 'back-to-school' or autumn blues can be a real downer, having just had six weeks of family fun, but all is not lost!

Planning some fun activities for the weekends or after school can boost kids and adults alike. And while it's still light(ish) in the evenings, it's a fantastic opportunity to get outdoors and have some fun, albeit with a few extra layers!

There are endless ways to grab some quality family time, but here's our list of seven things to do to beat those autumn blues. Give the whole family something to look forward to outside the weekly school and work routine this term.

1: Learn a new sport or activity - become a future world champion!

Try out snail racing, marbles or egg throwing!

There are loads of unusual sports you can take up in your own garden or local park, many free or low cost and very easy to teach yourselves.

Simply pick something that takes your fancy, learn the rules and get practising. You never know - one of you might have a real knack for it and become a world champion one day! 

Try out Snail Racing, Worm Charming, Conkers, Egg Throwing or Marbles for starters.

2: Get messy outdoors - get those wellies on and discover how muddy you're willing to go!

How to beat the autumn blues by getting muddy

Host your own Mud Tournament in your garden, local park or other public (but suitably muddy) place. Spend some time with the kids planning your events beforehand. Draw up a score sheet and rules, and then get those wellies on and prepare for battle!

Event ideas include the most mud in a bucket in a minute, the best mud face paint, the most enormous mud pie, or the most creative mud pie. This time of year is great for berries, so decorate those mud pies with blackberries or colourful leaves, and you can have your own Great British Mud Bake Off!

No mud? How about an Autumn Leaves Tournament instead? Leaf pile races, burying yourselves in leaves or creating leaf pile patterns are just some ideas to get you started. In fact, autumn leaves are one of the best things about autumn, so never mind 'autumn blues' - make the most of the 'autumn hues'!

3: Get creative - turn your garden, local park or living room into a fantasy world.

Create a magical map of your garden

All you need is a big piece of paper, a pencil and some imagination! Draw a rough plan of your house, living room, garden or local park and then choose which features will form part of your magical world.

That big bush, or 'under the table', can become the dragon's lair. That path? A river of dreams. The bench or rock? The King's throne... Anything goes! Need a castle or fairy kingdom? Build a den or put a tent up. When you're done, assign roles and let the fun begin!

4: Get hunting - go rock pooling or embark on a bug hunt.

Go rock pooling after school

If you live near the sea, great! A quick after-school trip is ideal, or perhaps a weekend expedition to see how many crabs and starfish you can spot.

If crabs and anemones aren't an option, a bug hunt is just the thing. Autumn is a great time for spotting dragonflies, crane flies and the last batch of butterflies. Or perhaps digging for worms is more your thing!

Check out this website for some tips on how to make the most of rock pooling or to find out what you need for a successful bug hunt, take a look here.

5: Make your own treasure hunt

Set up a treasure hunt in your house or garden

Many people are put off by the thought of planning all those clues, but we know that setting clues is often the best part! Creating those sneaky clues to tease your family with is great fun, so make 'setting the treasure hunt' part of the activity.

Split into two teams, whether that's kids vs adults or mixed ages, get some slips of paper ready and get planning. First, choose some treasure and go and hide it. Next, write a clue that describes where your hiding place is. It can be as cryptic or as simple as you wish. Then, hide that clue somewhere and write a new clue to describe the hiding place of the first clue, and so on. This is a great activity for around the house and garden.

When you've reached a suitable number of clues, keep hold of the last clue you write and hand it to the other team. Time them and see how long it takes them to find your treasure!

6: Plan a 'Beat the Autumn Blues' party!

Banish those back to school blues with a party!

Parties don't have to be just for birthdays or special occasions. Why not celebrate autumn, or Friday, or getting 10/10 in a spelling test? As with number five, planning is all part of the fun, so get the kids involved in coming up with some party games, activities and food ideas. Or, if they're old enough, let them take over!

Whether it's a party just for your family, or whether you decide to invite a few friends around, a party to look forward to is always going to be a winner. As well as the more traditional party games like pass the parcel and musical chairs, here are some autumn party ideas to get you started:

Start with a craft session to make some bunting for the party - either draw, colour and cut out leaves, cut out coloured paper, or go and collect real leaves from the park or garden. String them up to set your autumn theme. Then, let the games and activities commence!

How about 'leaf blow football', where two people race to blow a leaf across the floor or table using only a straw? Remember those conkers from earlier? Put them to good use with a conker-man-making competition - who can make one that stands up all by itself? Or, why not learn a new song or dance routine to a seasonal-themed song, like "All the leaves are brown"? If it's a clear night, you could even pop out for a bit of star gazing to relax in between games.

7: Soup up your Treasure Trail!

Get dressed up for your next Treasure Trail

Ideal for a weekend outing or exploring locally to enjoy of those daylight hours after school while you still can. Wherever you choose to explore, make your adventure extra special. Before heading out on your chosen Treasure Trail, make sure your team of clue solvers are well prepared.

Going on a treasure hunt? Make some pirate hats, swords or eye patches, give yourselves pirate names and prepare some 'treasure' for when you return home victorious.

Heading out on a spy mission? Pick some secret agent names for yourselves and set some secret code words so that you can communicate in public without people knowing what you're talking about. How about 'The squirrel has the nut' for 'I've found the clue!'?

Off to solve a detective mystery? Decide whether you'll be real detectives, an elite family crime-solving gang or perhaps superheroes on a mission to crack the case. Get your magnifying glasses ready and head out to search for evidence!