Can you believe we’re into October? It feels like the kids only went back to school a few days ago!
With half-term looming on the horizon, I’m starting to think about ways to keep the kids entertained. We always have a bit of Halloween-themed craft and pumpkin fun on the go at this time of year, and I’ll definitely be getting my two helping out in the garden, but my list of ideas will also inevitably involve more than one family day out.
When it comes to outdoor fun with the kids, I’ve learned over the years that the secret to a successful – and fun – trip is to be prepared. Winging it is all well and good, and of course we’ve all done that more than once, but spending a bit of time preparing for your day out is always well worth doing in my experience.
So, here are some tips based on my twelve years’ experience to help you have a really fun family day out and avoid as much stress as possible!
Write a packing list
A packing list for a single day out might sound a bit extreme, but it’s a must in my opinion. Having a list means you won’t forget any essential items, and if you create it on a spreadsheet or on your phone you’ll be able to refer to it every time you’re planning a family day out.
So what’s on the list then? This will obviously depend on the age of the children involved and where you’re visiting, but for me it includes extra layers of clothes, sun cream and sun hats, bottles of water, snacks and emergency supplies such as plasters and antibacterial hand gel. My post on what to pack for family days out and this list of baby beach essentials are also great resources to get you organised.
Think about cash
We’re all so used to paying with cards these days, but for a family day out you’re bound to need cash at some point. Things like car parks, kids’ rides and ice cream vans all need loose change, so make sure you’ve got some before you head out.
Make the most of the buggy
Oh how I miss the days when we took a buggy on our trips! As well as providing that all-important rest and rain protection for little ones, a buggy is fantastic for stashing your belongings. Make the most of the storage space underneath and take things like a picnic blanket, extra drinks, and perhaps some outdoor toys if you’re going to be somewhere with a big open space.
If you’re in the market for a new model, there are some seriously stylish pushchairs for sale at Kiddies Kingdom that also tick all the boxes when it comes to practical features.
Plan your travel
If your day out is going to involve an element of travelling, take some time to work out the logistics before setting off. This could mean checking out bus or train timetables, working out directions, filling the car up with petrol, and pre-booking things like parking.
I find it’s also a good idea to think about what we want to do for lunch in advance too. We’ve been caught out in the past with a hungry gang in the middle of nowhere, so now I try to work out roughly where we’ll be at lunchtime, and either pack sandwiches or make sure I’ve got enough money for food.
Kids are bound to be excited about the prospect of a fun day out – that’s the whole point! That excitement can tip over into frustration on the day if you have to deal with things like traffic jams, queues and busy play areas, so it’s worth having a little chat beforehand to help prepare them.
I usually explain a bit about how long it’s going to take us to get there, what the plan is once we arrive, and any specific details about the place we’re going – for example, when we might have to queue up – and how we’ll behave. If things get a bit stressful on the day, we can then refer back to this chat to help the kids understand what is expected of them. It’s not a magic cure for when things go wrong, but it definitely helps!
Have a backup plan
Nobody wants a family day out to turn into a nightmare trip, but sometimes you’ll have to deal with setbacks. Closed venues, long queues, bad weather, or simply tired children can all be challenging, but if you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve you can take the edge off the problem.
I’ve found that having a few simple games in mind really helps when the kids are flagging. Car games always come in handy, or you could make up a bingo-style list that’s relevant to your day out to keep them busy. Snacks can be a lifesaver here too. It’s also worth checking out what else is in the area before you set off, and having a backup venue option if possible. When it comes to the weather, the best plan is to pack layers and waterproofs – that way you’ll be covered for pretty much every eventuality!
What’s your top tip for a successful family day out?