Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Great Outdoors is Free!

Easter break is an expensive time of year, if you have children you may feel pressurised into spending money you don't actually have in order to fend off the old line 'Mum, I'm bored'. 

If the weather's not so good either, it's easy to end up trapped in soft play centres where you end up paying for food, drinks, entrance fees etc. Many parents take their kids bowling or to the cinema to occupy them, but both options will cost you an arm and a leg and maybe your sanity if it's a terrible film. shivers at the memory of 'The Owls of Ga'Hoole' It doesn't have to be this way, remember......

Your kids will not melt in the rain, in fact if you get them all togged up in wellies and waterproofs they absolutely love it.  Puddle jumping is a cost free, mud fest that is likely to cost you a little extra washing powder and that's it.   If you can keep your camera dry, it's often a fabulous photo opportunity too.  Just make sure you tuck the waterproof pants 'over' the top of the wellies or they'll have mini swimming pools for footwear. I know this from experience!
'Lobbing huge stones in the river to make big splashes. 

I've heard it said that there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, and I tend to agree with that statement.   If it's cold, wrap up warm and get out there!  Hats, gloves, scarves, thick corderouy trousers, vests, long sleeved tops, wooly jumpers, wellies, extra pairs of socks will all be essential in extra cold weather.  The extra effort is worth it though.   In the past I've even put hand warmers in the kids pockets for extra toasty warmth.  Watching the kids run around breathing out puffs of warm air like smoke and pretending to be dragons is always fun.  One top tip is to make sure you have extra pairs of gloves in case they soak theirs whilst carrying ice from puddles or if they fall over.  

It's important to make sure the walk isn't too long for the whole family too, nothing is more hard work than dragging tired kids around the last bit of a walk.  If you plan the walk carefully, you'll not be caught out by pushchair unfriendly paths either.  Babies get very cold quickly because they can't move around to stay warm, so it's doubly important to keep them dry and snug, although I'm sure I don't need to remind you of that really. 

I'd always recommend a round trip that includes a park for them to play on too, that breaks up a walk nicely and gets the kids aiming towards something. Kids love picnics and if you take a flask of hot chocolate and some marshmallows, a piece of fruit, some cheese butties and a muesli bar they'll think it's a real treat. They won't even realise you're actually trying to save money.  

Parking your car can be an extra expense, but once again, if you choose your location carefully, it doesn't have to cost you a penny.  You could even just travel on the bus, which may cost a little, but adds to the excitement for kids who are used to being driven round in cars.  A big rucksack is essential if you choose to travel this way because you'll need to make sure you have everything you need with you, you can't use your car as a giant handbag if you don't have it with you!
 'I'm the King of the Castle and you're the Poopy Pants!' (Sausage adapts the old rhyme)  

Yesterday I took my two little hyperactive bundles out to do exactly this, we went with my two nephews and my sister and spent a chilly, but fun morning careering around a local park. Here's what we did, and here's a nudge to remind you of how valuable your local parks, woodlands and pathways are; remember to use, support and enjoy them, whatever the weather!

By Kay

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