Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Choosing places to visit with a toddler

We love taking our toddlers out for family day trips, but sometimes the stress and effort involved can make it not seem worthwhile. We've managed pretty well over the years though, so here are my top tips for taking toddlers out for the day.

Firstly, choose your place to visit carefully. Find somewhere that isn't too far away, with the option of stopping en route if you need to. Think about your child's interests and remember it doesn't have to be an expensive trip out - you can go to the beach or feed the ducks for free. We save a lot of money on days out by collecting supermarket reward vouchers and keeping an eye out for special offers. If you have a popular attraction nearby it's also often worth investigating if they offer a season ticket.

If all of your children are pre-school age then take advantage of that by taking time off work if you can and visiting places during term time. It can make a huge difference to crowd levels and can often also be cheaper. Just remember that out of season places may shut earlier and of course you'll need to take the weather into consideration. Don't forget warm clothes and waterproofs!

Pack a bag which you can leave in the car, containing plenty of spare clothes, nappies, baby wipes, drinks and snacks. I actually keep a bag of spare clothes permanently in the car, and it has been called upon numerous times! If it's a hot day, I leave a small cool bag in the car with ice packs in to keep a few snacks and drinks cool for the journey home.

Even if your child is walking confidently, it's often still a good idea to take a pushchair. There is usually somewhere safe that you can leave it if the terrain isn't suitable, and it's a place to store some of the things that you'll need to carry around with you.

If the place that you are visiting is likely to be crowded, a set of reins is a good idea, especially ones that incorporate a small bag to pop a drink or snack in. I sometimes write my phone number on a piece of paper and put it into their pocket or write it on a sticker.

Even if your child is a good eater, it's still a good idea to take your own food and drink with you if you can. Not only is it much cheaper, but you can eat easily at a time that is suitable for you (mine tend to graze throughout the day) and you know that there will always be something that they will eat. Remember to hold some back for the way home!

Don't expect to stay out for a whole day and be led by your child. If they will nap in their pushchair you may be able to extend your time out (and perhaps have a quiet sit down while they sleep!) but overall it's better to have a fun few hours together than dragging it out for too long!

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