Tips for Outings With Kids ~ The City

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O&V April5

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?

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23 Comments

  1. Oh I love a trip to the city and you are so right – the simple things like the train are often the best entertainment. There’s a great park at Birrurung Mar (excuse my spelling) which we often end up at and the museum is awesome. Lovely post! : )
    Mez recently posted..The Apple TreeMy Profile

    • Thanks Mez. We just went on another city adventure this week, this time in the car. Just walking up and down the mall, check out street art and buskers was great fun.

  2. Sounds like an awesome time was had by all – I’ll certainly keep these ideas in mind for my next field trip.

  3. Peter LOVES the train, if we had a regular train system here we would use it all the time!

  4. Ahhh, I need to read your posts more often. I always seem to push the trip that little bit further (just to get that extra box of cereal) and I pay for it. Some wonderful advice, especially for me who has a toddler and 18 month old twins!
    Penny recently posted..Surprise it’s Twins!My Profile

    • Sometimes we can’t help but do just one more thing, but we were lucky on this day to be day tripping just for the fun of it. When you have a lot of errands to run things can be quite different. I also imagine that TWO kids would be a lot more .. interesting.. than one :)

  5. I took my two into the city by myself once. I had baby C in the sling and G had one of those back pack harness thingimys. We went by bus. We met a friend for coffee, looked at some window displays (it was Christmas) and then went home again! I’m a BIG fan of ‘quit while you’re ahead”!
    Catherine Rodie Blagg @CoTaaB recently posted..Juggling PineapplesMy Profile

    • Sounds like a perfect excursion. I love a bubba in a sling, I wish Charlotte had been more of a fan of them (and not quite such a large baby!).

  6. Oh, that’s great advice. As you say, those tips seem obvious but sometimes you just forget common sense!

    As the parent of an older child, definitely get them to carry their own stuff. We also let Boyo take his DSi or the old iPhone that is now his iGame. That way, when he’s a bit tired or (did I just say this!) bored, he can zone out for a bit before he’s ready to join the party again. It also means I can squeeze another errand in, or the Welshman and I can have a chat when we’re out to lunch as a family.

    Packing food isn’t essential at this age because they will usually eat lots of stuff by now – like the sushi you enjoyed. I don’t share with him though – he steals all the salmon and prawns! ;)
    Kim-Marie recently posted..Thankful Thursday : Just the way we areMy Profile

    • Grabbing a treat on the go is so much fun when the kids are older. I still remember having lunch out in the city with my mum and it was so special.

  7. Fantastic advice!
    There is an android app out called ‘Aussie loo’ it comes in very handy when your out and about with kids. It finds the 10 closest toilets to you.
    Me N my Monkeys recently posted..The importance of Health insuranceMy Profile

    • I definitely need to download that app! I’m going to do that right now, thanks for the tip.

  8. I have to admit, I haven’t done the trip into the city with the boys yet. I am not a huge fan of going into the city myself, but I know I will do it. With my son’s autism, he finds a lot of noise difficult, as well as lots of people. Both boys have been in with my MIL once, (on separate occasions), but she tended to stick to the outskirts. It was more about the train ride, which they both enjoyed.
    We’ll get there! :)

    • Sensory issues can be a huge worry when you’re out and about and you don’t have so much control over things. I haven’t dealt with that at home, but have had to think about that when planning incursions/excursions for school.

  9. Excellent tips! I usually brought out food for my Lil girl when she was younger too. So much more convenient and healthy!
    Ai Sakura recently posted..He Writes: Reflections of FatherhoodMy Profile

    • Isn’t it? Also you have the food right there for when they need it – little ones aren’t good at waiting!

  10. We go to the city for day trips often. The monorail is their favourite. We just keep going round and round and…:)
    Great tips here, Vicky! Especially about quitting when you’re ahead. There is just such a teeny weeny fine line between “still hanging in there” to absolute meltdown.
    Oh, the joys! :)
    Grace recently posted..FYBF – Pre-Blogopolis FeverMy Profile

    • I don’t know how you do it with twins, but the monorail sounds like a good choice. I wish I had the chance to ride it while it Sydney, but I was too busy with NNB2012 :)
      I hear that they’re thinking of tearing down the monorail!

  11. I agree, the ratio of parent to child is much better when it’s 1:1! Now mine are almost 3 and 4.5, it’s a lot easier when I take them out on my own, but only if we strap the littlest into a stroller, whether she wants to walk or not, and never, ever attempt public transport. But heading out with two parents and two little ones for a weekend train adventure is really good fun.
    Rachel @ The Kids Are All Right recently posted..Goodbye Nora E, though I never knew you at allMy Profile

    • I am so lucky to be able to go out with hubby in tow as well, but I’m sure when and if we have another child the day will come when I’ll brave an outing with two children. I hope to come back here with more tips :)
      My sister has two children aged two and four and she’s always out about with them, I think she is quite legendary.

  12. What a fun post :-) And your train ride and picnic sound like they were so much fun! Great tips, love the one about keeping an open mind, just go with the flow :-) And sooo true about knowing your toilet locations, hee hee hee!! Thanks for sharing at Happy Family Times x
    Kelly recently posted..Rock MonstersMy Profile

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