We recently had a family day out in the city. We didn’t have any big plans, we just wanted to get out of the house, explore the city, and have fun. These ideas might seem obvious, but I hope they help a few people have a fun day out (and avoid a day spiralling into kiddie meltdowns!):
~ Use public transport
This was Pebble’s first time on a city train (not counting one time when she was a baby). She loved exploring our local train station, talking about the tracks and the crossing, pressing the button to hear the automated voice tell us what time the next train was coming, seeing all the different people arrive to catch the train, riding through tunnels and under bridges, looking out the window at passing scenery, arriving at the BIG city train station and seeing all the buildings as we pulled into the station. Seriously, just the train trip alone would have been a fantastic day out for this kid!
Public transport is cheap, environmentally friendly, and fun! Just make sure that you:
- check your timetables before you leave, and take one with you so that you know what time you can get home.
- have enough change for the train tickets, or purchase them at a newsagent before you go on your Little Day Out. Or perhaps your train system has EFTPOS on board – in Adelaide some trains now have this option (ahem, our train wasn’t very reliable, it’s connection cut out when going through the hills!).
~ BYO food
Buying food out and about can be expensive, and often isn’t very kiddo friendly. A ham and cheese sandwich can be bigger than a child’s head, with enough meat on board to give them their iron intake for a month. Why do serving sizes have to be so HUGE!? Anyhoo, we packed a sandwich, fruit, biscuits and water, which was plenty to keep a busy kiddo happy. We did find it easier to buy our own lunch – a shared box of sushi treats = YUM. Find your own balance between what is easy to carry and how much you’re willing and able to spend on your day out.
~ Pack smart
If your kiddo is still younger, a stroller is your friend. They will probably get tired of walking at some point, or the may need somewhere to nap. A stroller is also an awesome pack horse – load her up with your kid stuff! We just had the stroller and a small backpack for our bits and pieces (don’t forget sunscreen!), but we only have the one kiddo to pack for. We left behind anything that wasn’t absolutely essential, to avoid carrying too much stuff on our adventures.
~ Be open minded
Our goal for the Little Day Out was to hang out together and have fun while out somewhere different and new. We didn’t over think it, or over plan it. We followed Pebble’s lead and it turned out that she had the most awesome fun chasing pigeons around the lawn out the front of the museum. BEST FUN EVA. Second best experience was probably the train ride. Third was putting her fingers in fountains (hold back your inner germaphobe and make good use of hand sanitiser, it’s all good).
You might be setting yourself up for FAIL if you have your expectations too high: perhaps try to avoid planning to see the entire museum, then the art gallery, and then take them on guided tour of the zoo. All before lunch. You know what I mean? And try not to be disappointed if your own plans for things that you thought would be AWESOME don’t quite fit with what your kids want to do. Keep it simple, follow their lead.
~ Quit while you’re ahead
Don’t wait until you’re at Tears and Tantrums Central to call it a day. Read between the lines and pick up on your kiddos cues that they’re getting tired and have had enough and end the day with smiles.
~ Extra tips for a Little Day Out with more than one child or with older children:
~ know your public toilet locations, peeps. Seriously. I recommend large department stores (hello DJs and Myers!).
~ ask older children to carry their own small back pack for their lunch, snacks and water. In my classroom the children always carry their own gear on excursions (5 – 8 year olds) and it’s been no drama at all.
~ if you have more than one child and those children are under five years old then a Little Day Out is best attempted with both parents. I am yet to experience the two-child (or more) family personally, but I’ve seen how quickly my young nieces can bolt – in opposite directions – and that’s no fun for one parent to deal with.
~ check out your local newspapers and parenting magazines for information on what’s on for kids, there are always lots of interesting things planned by local councils.
Have you been on a Little Day Out lately? What are your tips for a great day?