A bit about myself and this blog
I have two small children, a one year old and a three year old, and I'm a stay at home mum. Fortunately my wonderful husband works so we're still able to pay our bills and buy food!
But with only one income coming in days out can be rather limited. Plus having two young children often make days out a bit of a struggle.
There's the excess baggage to think of (Easy Jet would love us!), prams, nappy bags, change of clothes depending on the weather, toys for all eventualities, food and probably extra stuff that I can't think of but once we've set off I'd remember and I'd have to buy it once we're out.
Then the decision of where to travel. Do we walk somewhere local, drive somewhere exciting, base it mainly on entertainment value for the children or acknowledge our own thirst for excitement, albeit in a child-friendly way?
I think over the past three years since our eldest was born we've learnt a few things.
- Money isn't the source of our greatest fun.
- A simple woodland often transforms into a zoo with lions, tigers and even scary monsters hiding all over the place. Children have to run very quickly to avoid being eaten and screaming is essential, the louder the better.
- Picnics are essential.
- Eating out can be so expensive. We recently returned from a holiday in Wales and stopped off for some lunch at Llandudno. It was blowing a gale so we went to the closest place we could find, a little chippy/restaurant. Veggie burger and chips, sausage and chips, one plate of chips and two cokes cost £20 and it wasn't that good! If the weather had been better we would have walked further and got a pasty from Greggs. If we had had some food in the car we would've parked up along the sea front admiring the view, eating the food that we enjoyed and playing silly games and singing songs to entertain the kids. Plus a picnic means that you're going to eat the food you enjoy so no disappointed children when your food arrives and it's not that good!
- Go when it's quiet.
- Ok, admittedly this is so that my husband and I don't pull our hair out with children overload, but it also means that your own kids get to play on things for longer, rather than spending ages in a queue.
- If it's too busy you risk your kids running off somewhere and you spending the next five minutes panicking because you can't distinguish your child from all the other children wearing bright pink Peppa Pig outfits and shouting at the top of their voice.
- Your children spend ages queuing and, if you're a reasonable person, after two minutes you are conscious of the long queue behind your child so you quickly remove them from the source of their fun just so everyone else can have a go.
- And finally you can park close to where you want to be, which when laden down with your excess baggage is very handy.
- Take family and friends as support.
- Going as a group with friends and similar aged children has great advantages. Children often amuse themselves, which is both great fun for them but also generally free for us, leaving the adults with a bit of time to chat and enjoy themselves too.
- Taking Grandparents is extra special. They get to spend quality time with their grandchildren and (if you're really lucky) they'll treat them so you don't have to!
- Keep travel short and simple.
- For smaller children, a journey time of 90 minutes each way is probably the maximum you will all be comfortable with. I've found that the children get quite excited on their outward journey but within approximately 30 minutes they're asleep. We always try to set off at a similar time when the children would have their naps. On the return journey we either set off when the one year old will be having her afternoon nap, or have our tea out and set off when they'd normally be going to bed. Entertaining children in a car can be done but personally I'd rather they sleep and get some time to chat with my husband.
So with these things in mind let's find places to entertain our kids that are FREE AND EASY.