I am very guilty of over complicating life and my attitude to entertaining the children is no exception. As I am always harping on about, I was born quite a long time ago. When I was a child, days out were a real treat, not a regular weekend thing. Me and my sister would just entertain ourselves for hours; usually independently, as the 4 years age gap is a long one when you are children. But things were so different, in that as long as I was back before dark and Mum had a vague idea of where I was, it was OK to just meet friends, or play on the farm for hours. Though there was nothing wrong with this as a childhood, for some reason I feel this intense need to make things exciting for my children, so that they can report back to their teachers and friends about their interesting life.
I doubt that I differ much from other Mums now, in that I rarely let them out of my sight, unless we are at home. This leads to the constant need to think of entertainment. There is so much out there to choose from; ice skating, bowling, cinema, soft play, climbing, swimming, pottery painting to name a few, let’s face it, the list is endless. I feel the need to tailor holidays and short breaks around the external entertainment options. But am I really doing what they want?
I was all set to book some activity for a sleepy Sunday, desperate to take DD1’s mind off breakfast club the next day. (Great news though, she no longer needs to go – no more Sunday stressing!) I had drawn a blank on ideas, so we decided to let them come up with a plan – radical new idea eh? DD1 started describing this park; initially we drew a blank, but after a significant amount of questioning, we narrowed it down to a park in a local town. In fact, though we moved several years ago, we ended up moving back to a similar area; the requested park was one we used to visit regularly in the baby years. I love to revisit the park as it reminds me of going there when they were babies; it was one of the first places we visited on our return to the area. It’s a great spot as we can hit the shops and grab a coffee before heading out to the park. It is far from exciting, there is a much more grown up park in the same town, but it is where they wanted to go. There is a river with a pooh stick bridge, this makes them very happy as they can spend ages dropping sticks over the wrong side of the bridge, running to the other side to find that nothing appears as they drift away in the opposite direction. Once the directionally challenged pair have been put right, it is an innocent game that provides free entertainment for quite a few minutes.
(Collecting pooh sticks)
We ended up spending about 3 hours on our trip out; there was the obligatory café trip, but I am really tight and tend to pack them food for said café trips, then just treat Mum and Dad to coffees. A certain coffee chain makes chocolate babyccinos for 55p, including a mini flake, so on a generous day, they get this. Sadly, DD1 has really outgrown the babyccinos, so I worry café trips are going to become quite pricey soon. They enjoyed a mad run around Poundland; for some reason they have a fascination with Poundland and though we rarely buy them anything, they just love to look around the Aladdin’s Cave of goodies. Then with take-out coffees in hand, off we all went to the park.
DD1 is a monkey bar demon; if monkey bars were an Olympic event, she would be a contender. This park has really high up monkey bars, which set Dad off in a flat spin of panic about her safety, but she loves the thrill of the height. DD2 found the baby slide and enjoyed that for a little too long, but then finally graduated to the bigger one. They played in the sand pit, which I know probably contains fox pooh, but kids will be kids. They spun on roundabouts, slid on slides, swung on swings and then pooh sticked away the afternoon.
So that was our simple day as chosen by the children. No booking fees, charges, queues, long drives and struggles to park, just an innocent day at the park. I wonder how long this will be enough for them, but for now I am going to make the most of those special and innocent days.