If you’ve got kids, you probably dream of lovely days out as a family. Where everyone is having fun and laughing, learning together and enjoying their day. You see other families having these fairy tale days out where everything is wonderful, and everyone is happy and long for the day that you can do the same. Before we have kids, we imagine that this is what all of our family days out will be like. Lovely and carefree. Then, we have them and start going out together.
We quickly realize that that perfect family day out is nothing but a pipedream and suspect that those families who appear to be having the perfect day are heavily bribing their children.
Family days out are stressful. Sometimes to the point of not being worth it at all. The children whine and moan, even if it’s a destination they have chosen. The food is rubbish, the journey is long and boring, and the entertainment or attraction is never quite how it looks online. By the end of the day, everyone is upset, tired and hungry and you’ve had to deal with 8034 toddler tantrums.
But, does it have to be this way? Is bribery the only way to have a stress-free day out with your family? Surely not. Here are some great tips to reduce all of the stress so you can all enjoy your day.
Planning your day out in plenty of time gives you a chance to save lots of money, get cheaper transport tickets and prepare an itinerary to make everything as easy as possible. Write lots of lists and make sure you know exactly what you are doing and when. Brief the rest of your party too, and then repeat yourself on the morning of the event.
All that said, sometimes it’s best not to plan. When you plan a perfect day out, it often leads to chaos and an immense pressure to have a great time. It can be hard to live up to your expectations. If something comes up and you are free, or you spot something that your family will love last minute, go with it. Sometimes the spontaneous days out with absolutely no preparation and planning are the most fun and the ones that you remember in years to come. Don’t get too hung up on the planning.
Let the Kids Help
When the kids get a little older, they can resent being dragged around with their parents and younger siblings. To be fair, even 6 or 7-year-olds would often rather be at home on their tablets. So, let them help you arrange their perfect day out. Sit together and look at some great family days out online and try to find something that everyone will enjoy. Encourage them to think of not only their needs but of those of the rest of the group, especially any younger children.
A visit to an aquarium such as SeaQuest can be the perfect solution. Younger children and even babies can enjoy watching the colourful fish swimming around, and older kids and adults can make the most of the interactive displays and learning opportunities. Other great options include farms, zoos and fun, family-friendly museums.
Give Older Children Responsibility
Another way to keep older children happy on a family day out is by making them feel needed and appreciated. Give them a job, such as looking after the map and checking things off your to-do list and tell them how important this is and that they are doing you a huge favor. Keep an eye on their progress and encourage and praise them throughout the day. Tell them that everyone is having a much better day because of their help.
Get an Early Night
The last thing you want on the morning of your big day out is tired and agitated kids or adults for that matter. If the children know that something fun is happening the next day they might find it hard to sleep if they are excited. So, try to keep their routine normal and put them to bed a little earlier. Then, get some rest yourself. Big family days out can be long and tiring, so make sure you are starting on top form.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Get up a little early than usual too to give yourself plenty of time to make sure you’ve got everything you need for the day. Then, leave early enough that you aren’t having to rush whether you’re driving or using public transport. Make sure you’ve got enough time for an emergency stop.
Plan Activities for the Journey
You don’t want to be stressed out before you arrive. But children can be hard to entertain on a long journey. So, plan some activities. Think of some games you can play together and take a few small books or toys. You could even let them take their tablets or other devices just for the journey if it keeps everyone happy.
Even if the journey is short, you may find you have to spend some of your days in queues or waiting for shows. Kids tend not to be very good at waiting, so healthy snacks are a must. Just make sure you also take a bag for rubbish and some baby wipes for sticky fingers.
Keep the Kids Safe
As a parent, your biggest fear on family days out is always that one of the children will get lost. Even when they start getting older, it’s something that worries us. Temporary ID tattoos with a parent’s name and contact number are a great idea to help keep them safe. You should also make sure they know your real name and that there is a landmark nearby they recognize if they need help.
Remember, it’s Their Day Out Too
It can be easy to get hung up on our children’s behavior, but on a day out it’s important to relax a little. Remember, it’s their day out too, they are excited and might be a little louder than usual. It’s ok to let things slide a little for the good of the day.
Know When to Give Up
However, sometimes, it can seem like everything is against you. The weather is awful; things are closed, the car stops working, your picnic gets ruined or worse. Things happen. Instead of trying to force everyone to have a good time sometimes it’s ok to give it up, go home and watch a DVD together. There’ll be other days.