You just get over half term and then before you know it… BANG we arrive at Easter and if you are anything like me are thinking “Hang on, didn’t we just have Christmas!” Now, if we’re really lucky (and I mean really lucky) the weather starts to change for us at this time of year and we start to see that non-English thing known as sun that people keep mentioning exists, so of course we want our children to get out and about and enjoy some of the new fresh spring air after having hibernated for winter. However, if you are like me, you then start to think… But what can we DO? Where can we GO? And… How MUCH is this all going to cost me? Whether the weather is good or bad, it’s important to try and enjoy the holidays with our babies and try to get them out there and spark their imaginations. So…. Alyssa and I, joined by my gorgeous nephew Rowan, went out investigating and found three fun and almost completely free activities to help entertain the kiddies this Easter Hols!
Why should the beach only be for summer? If it is a nice day and not too windy, the beach is the perfect place for kids to be kids and go exploring and to burn off some of that energy they always seem to have! Alyssa, Rowan and I (accompanied and driven by my brother-in-law Peter) popped on our hats, coats and wellie-boots and headed down to the lovely Shore Road at Sandbanks in Dorset. The only thing we had to pay for, on arrival, was a parking ticket, though with it being out of season this was cheaper anyway and we managed to park really close to the beach (unlike in Summer… 3 mile walk later!!)
If you head down to the beach there are a million things you can encourage your little ones to do:
1. Go on the hunt like Rowan did for The Most Interesting Seashell or make a collection.
2. Bring a ball from home, or a bat and ball and have a kick about or a game of rounders.
3. Bring a bucket and spade from home and make the most epic sandcastle you could ever imagine
4. Put on your wellies and go paddling in the incoming waves.
5. Make friends with other children you meet at the beach and join them in their activity.
6. If you have a less boisterous child, take some pens, paper and a tray and some clothes pegs and make them an artists drawing board so they can sit and draw the amazing things they see and find at the beach.
7. Go for a walk along the promenade.
8. Grab your phone, and help your kids film a “news report” about what they are getting up to at the beach. It will be great fun for them to watch when you all get home!
9. If you have a little one, and don’t want to keep them constrained to their push chair (I am lucky to have an “all terrain” pram that I was able to take down to the beach) take a towel, or even a blow up mini paddling pool they can sit in on the beach with some toys to play with. This will help them enjoy the beach too.
10. Who can resist writing their name in the sand?! Get everyone to write their names together and the kids can decorate with shells and stones and that will make a great photo to remember your day out!
All these activities involve bringing just a few bits most of us have from home – and if you don’t have something then improvise! A plant pot can make a pretty good bucket ya know!
You can also use up any leftover food or cupboard dwellers and rustle up a simple picky picnic to take with you to avoid the sometimes astronomical costs of eating out. If you have a thermos, throw in some tea, hot chocolate or soup too and that will help warm you up if you feel nippy at all.
Personally, we had an absolute blast, and made some lovely memories too. What a great way to spend a day whatever the season!
The Swimming Pool
This may seem like an obvious one, but I think with all the technology and theme parks there are out there, that people sometimes forget the little, more traditional acitivities such as swimming. I have been swimming since a young age and Alyssa and I have talked frequently about our trips to one of her favourite activities… swimming lessons. However, you may think “But my child goes to swimming lessons every week… this is not something new!!” Hold the phone, there is a really BIG difference for kids between going for a structured swimming lesson, where mummy and daddy are often not in the pool, to a free swim time to do whatever they please!
Although this activity will not be an “all day” activity, it is an energetic one that will be fun and get the kids moving.
If you are not usually in the pool with your little one during swimming lessons, you’ll find that they probably want to show you what they’ve been learning and will be oh so puffed up and chuffed when they manage to show you all by themselves outside of lessons.
If you look around at all the local leisure centres, you will get a good idea of the range of prices and also the different activities and times available. When looking, we found quite a few that had amazing children’s pools with toys and water spouts and a few with flume rides for the older children too. What was really good to see was that during the holidays, some were running swimming discos or inflatable swim assault courses for older children, for the same price as a normal swim.
If, your child is very social, and likes seeing their friends in the holidays, why not do a ring round of all the mummies and hire a private swimming pool for two hours. In my local area of Dorset, we did look at this, and twelve people could have their own private pool for two hours for £5 a head which is really decent as you will have the place to yourselves and can take inflatables and woggles from home!
Once again, kids get hungry don’t they? Well, pack a picnic to have in the car or even at the leisure centre after as there are often tables available. If the kids want to hit those annoying vending machines, suggest before hand that they maybe bring some of their own pocket money from home to purchase what they would like… or just steer clear of them all together.
Swimming is great exercise for the children and will use up a lot of that hibernated winter stored energy. So after swimming, head on home, make a warm drink and snuggle up to a cosy afternoon DVD together, or if they are still full of beans, ask them to get crafty and make a picture about the fun they had whilst swimming that day – you could end up with some real works of art! They may even be fridge-worthy!
This has got to be a classic past time for all us – myself included. I can remember going to the park so much as a child and simply adored it. We are lucky enough, in Poole Dorset, to have an absolutely gorgeous park, that it just so happens both my mum and I used as children and it has been somewhere I have been dying to introduce Alyssa to.
Although it has changed over the years, at it’s heart it is still the same but with so many more things to do.
1. There are two play areas, one at either end of the park and both cater across a vast age range for children. There are slides, sandpits, seesaws, swings and climbing frames. Let your kids imagine they are on a pirate ship, or in outer space!
2. There are two duck ponds and a lake which feature many varieties of ducks, swans and other birds. There is bird seed available to purchase, but why not take some left over bread from home… it’s their favourite!!
3. There is also a lovely little train, that we have all ridden on at some point in our lives. In the not so distant future I will be taking my darling daughter on there too. It’s only £2.50 and runs through all the school holidays.
4. There are big open lawns of grass to run around and play on, so bring a ball from home and have a kick about or some raquets and a ball for a game of tennis in the courts there too.
5. One of my favourite past times was taking my bike or roller skates, and speeding round the big paved ring that circles the grassy cricket pitch. Who knew speeding round and round could be such fun.
6. Also available on site, one of their newer additions, are an indoor soft play area and a skating rink for all ages which both sandwich one of the cafe’s on site! The other restaurant/cafe is at the other end of the park, as is The Crazy Golf!
7. One thing I cannot wait for Alyssa to try when she is a bit older is climbing this (above) tree! We have all climbed it, my mum, my sister and I and now my nephew has too. I am sure thousands have climbed this tree in Poole Park and I hope thousands more will – its tradition!
8. Don’t forget if you have a kite at home, you could take that to the park too. Get the kids running around trying to fly it high up in the air!! Or, if you have the craft supplies at home, why not get the kids to make kites the day before you go to the park… who knows they may even fly and that is two days worth of activities right there!!
There is so much to see and do, and yes you could spend quite a bit if you wanted to or were able to. However, we spent a lovely day at the park, playing in the two playgrounds, having a picnic, Rowan scooting around the cricket pitch whilst Alyssa napped and the adults chatted and feeding the ducks. There was no charge for parking so this day for us was absolutely free – we just brought a few bits with us from home!