Family Days Out Are a Big Mistake. #1: The Park

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It’s the Easter holidays. Routine has gone out the window. Getting up late is great, ditto no school run. But 12 hours of having multiple children under the feet is not so great. A friend and I discussed today how it would appear that the home environment is far better for learning than the British state school system, but how we would never be able to cope without sending our kids to school.

But it’s with this abundance of time to hand that as a parent you start to look for ‘family friendly’ things to do.

Big mistake.

Family friendly stuff is rarely fun for everyone, mainly because someone has to stay responsible whilst everyone else has fun.

Another friend of mine got off lightly yesterday when a rogue gust of wind slammed the car door onto her finger just as they arrived at the family day trip destination. Instead of having to wrangle her toddler son from flinging himself into various lakes at the nature reserve she spent the afternoon in A&E. At least in A&E you get to sit down and drink (rancid) coffee.

The trouble is that when the weather’s ok during the school holidays, going out seems like a good idea. It saves the house from getting trashed for a start and curtails the whines of ‘I’m borrrrrrrrred.’ What could possibly go wrong?

We’d already had the bored game this morning when friends were running later than anticipated. So when they showed up spirits were lifted and with the sun out we decided to hit the park. A round of ‘Yay!’ from all four small people and we headed off.

Mind you, getting there wasn’t the easiest. The park is only 5 minutes away from my house, but Boo wanted to go on her scooter, her best friend wanted to go on Boo’s bike and her little sister wanted to ride on Noodles’ scooter. Mercifully Noodles was happy in his buggy and didn’t want to walk. Four children, four sets of wheels and one main road. There was wobbling, there were steering issues. Our hearts were in our mouths.

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Noodles was obviously having a better time than me.

Things didn’t get particularly better once we reached the playground. It seemed that the entire town had had the same idea as us. The playground was heaving.

By the time I’d chained up the bike and two scooters and released Noodles from his buggy the three girls were lost in the crowd. The first I saw of them, Boo’s best friend was plummeting down a pole. Even from a distance I could sense my friend going greyer.

I decided to stick with Noodles on the pre-school equipment. Far less scary, right? Not necessarily. Normally when we go to the park it’s in the morning and most children are at school. We generally have the playground to ourselves. It means that Noodles isn’t used to avoiding the swings flying at his head level. He’s not used to 12-year-olds storming the slide.

He’s also like a whippet out of the trap as soon as he spots the gate open. There are three separate gates to the playground. People are incredibly lax when it comes to closing them. Next to the playground is the river. It’s not a great combination. I feel like unchaining the bike and instead using it to lock the sodding gate. Or chaining Noodles to the railings instead.

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Fancy a dip in here, anyone? It’s what you could get if your toddler escapes from the playground.

The age-appropriate play area clearly wasn’t working for us, so I steered Noodles to the older play equipment and parkour* area where the girls were playing.

*Parkour: scary slabs of concrete and metal from which children fling themselves. Aka an accident waiting to happen.

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Combine with small children and it’s every bit as bad an idea as it looks.

Boo isn’t particularly impressed with the older play area. She’s a delicate little flower really and not keen on potentially breaking herself. She just looked bored watching her friend scaling various heights and flinging herself about.

Noodles, on the other hand, just wanted to run amongst the concrete blocks, hiding around corners whilst pre-pubescents dropped to the floor around him and footballs ricocheted off slabs.

After a near meeting of his face with a flying football I managed to steer him towards the rest of our group. Unfortunately Boo’s friend had discovered the downside of gravity as she’d been flying around, dropping from an aerial roundabout. Luckily she was ok, but upset and keen to head back.

Except she didn’t want to cycle back. It was down to Boo to ride the bike. Only Boo can’t ride solo without stabilisers. The littlest friend had trouble steering her scooter and kept doing rainbow-shaped arcs along the path due to the camber. Between myself and my friend we had to push the buggy and the bike, carry two scooters and corral all of the children.

At least we didn’t get fleeced at the kiosk having to buy drinks and ice creams.

One injured child, two fraught parents and a general air of despondency. We’d not even been there an hour. Noodles started to howl as we crossed the road as we hadn’t visited the train station. We could have just stayed at home and played in the back garden. Bubbles for the children, bubbly wine for my friend and I. I wish I’d thought of that sooner.

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8 thoughts on “Family Days Out Are a Big Mistake. #1: The Park”

  1. Ha ha, I totally identify with this – went out this morning to a farm with a friend and her baby – to be honest, it was a great morning – but I didn’t really speak with my friend. I spent the whole time sprinting after my children – stopping the three-year old climbing precarious playground equipment the wrong way, running through the car-park, chasing the tractor – stopping my one-year-old from eating sand – and then of course, they drank my hot chocolate and ate my cake (in addition to their own I hasten to add)! Am shattered, lol.

    1. Yep, that sounds about right. I think this may become a series. My last farm visit was utterly crap – the waitress in the cafe forgot to serve me my cake (and there were only 3 customers in the cafe!) and I’m not sure who decided it was a good idea to mix toddlers with access to animal poo and label it a ‘fun day out’. Don’t cha love the holidays? 🙂

      1. Ha ha – what a disaster! My eldest doesn’t start school until Sept and I recently had to take her out of nursery, so at the moment every day is a holiday for us, aaahhh! 😉

  2. How does this “park” not have lawsuits slapped against it weekly? Wow. Between this and your buggy blog, I’m feeling a bit more grateful after another long day at Disneyland today. Yes, you read that correctly. You’ve heard of a Stepford Wife, right? I am beginning to suspect that I am a Stepford Mum. Anyhow, your ending line is epic! I never thought of bubbles as being so family friendly – – bubbles for kids, bubbly wine for adult friends and of course, bubble bath, for mum. Because this was a definite “Calgon, take me away!” post if I’ve ever read one! Rest up, you.

    1. You went to DISNEY again??! They actually let you in??!
      I have got a Disney-related ‘Big Mistake’ post in the pipeline, yet it’s still possibly my favourite place on Earth.
      I think my current plans are to venture only where there are bubbles. Calgon and Moët are my new lifestyle props. Ahhhh. That’s better.

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