Will you make it through half-term?

The October half-term holiday.

That came around quicker than most of us expected, and if you’re like me, you probably haven’t made any solid plans yet. When it comes to work, planning is something I’m on top of. And yet when it comes to family life, we kind of fly by the seat of our pants. Well, you have to, don’t you? Who knows what’s going to crop up during the course of a day, or a week.

You could plan your days and weeks as meticulously as you dare, but it’s unlikely to stick.

But still, when it comes to the holidays, you find yourself wishing you’d set up a more solid plan and had a few days out tucked up your sleeve.

So, here’s a plan.

#WikiVentures!!

Are you on Instagram? If you are, you might be familiar with the various challenges you see crop up in your feed.

When Wiki Places For Kids mentioned a parenting/half-term holiday challenge to me and suggested that parents set their own challenge, I wanted to share this idea with all the other parents I know to join in the fun.

It’s a simple concept. Make memories, not stress.

To make your half-term holiday one to remember, rather than one fuelled with hair-pulling (that’s you, not the kids). A holiday to help you enjoy your children and cherish the short time you have with them. The short time before they morph into unresponsive teens independent young adults who want to do their own thing, and think parents are embarrassing (sadly, it happens).

5 themes. 5 days. 5 challenges

  • Indoor Play
  • Forest walk
  • Park time
  • Animals
  • Culture

They can be anything.

Indoor play doesn’t have to be expensive soft-play. It might just feature den-building indoors with some cushions and blankets. Or you could use the site wikiplacesforkids.com for some pointers on where to go, if you need to take the kids to burn off some energy and love to get involved in the soft-play antics.

Ed's Play Barn

Round up the kiddies and take them to your nearest forest, to see how many different shaped leaves you can find.

Child woodland walk

Take them to the park at least once in the week.

Russell Park Bedford

Go animal-spotting at a zoo, an open-farm, or even on a woodland walk. You could even write a list of common animals for your children to spot, and have a prize for the winner (and something for the runners-up, because no-one likes to be a loser).

animal hunt

Experience some culture. Visit a museum. Your local library.

MK Museum

The linked photos are just a few ideas to kick-start your thought process.

It’s a simple process; make memories, not stress.

So go on, get involved, and share your adventures with WikiPlacesForKids on social media, hashtag #WikiVentures and be part of something fun!

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This post was written for WikiPlacesForKids.com, THE place to go for epic days out, or that much needed hour out of the house. 

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7 Reasons Why IKEA Is Perfect For YOU And Your Toddler

AmbassadorI make no secret of the fact I am a huge IKEA fan. If I had my way, my entire house would be kitted out like an IKEA showroom. I love everything about it; from the displays, to the little kiddie play areas, to the huge inspiration from the hacks and online brochure.

I know many people who have IKEA furniture, but I also know a few people who aren’t as enthused as I am.

But I think on the right day, at the right time, IKEA can be a perfect place for you to kill two birds with one stone; entertain your child and have some time for yourself. Here’s how: Continue reading

Beautiful Corfe. Have you been?

Corfe Castle is as its name suggests; a castle nestled high on the hill in the village it dominates and lends its title to. As a child, on our way to Studland Bay, I’d gaze wistfully at its majestic beauty, my forehead pressed up against the window as I dreamed of lords and ladies and princesses of yesteryear, always dreaming of visiting one day with my own gallant knight. Corfe Castle had me entranced, and I knew my first experience within the castle grounds had to be with someone special. Not just anyone, but the man I was going to marry. Continue reading

It’s the best kind of holiday.

Have you ever sat outside on a mild, still summer’s eve, gazing up at the blackest sky, peppered with bright twinkling stars and watched a meteor shower? Wrapped up in a fleece or a blanket because it’s grown chilly, but you don’t want to leave the beauty of the night sky, away from the light pollution and noise of everyday living? Have you ever woken from a blissful sleep, breathing the freshest air throughout the previous day and opened your ears to the sounds of sheep bleating in the distance, and magpies tittering over your head? These are just some of the fond memories I have when I think back to my childhood – of summers spent camping on a secluded site, surrounded by pine-trees and secret paths into the woods throughout. Squirrels would announce the arrival of morning by pelting acorns onto our caravan roof, and crows would caw out to each other as the sun came up. Anyone who has ever been camping will be familiar with these endearing examples of the experience of camping. Admittedly, it’s a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it – but I’m of the opinion that if you have the right gear and the right company (and the right frame of mind – luxury lovers look away now), camping can be an unforgettable experience for a fraction of the cost of a package holiday. The thing with this type of break, whether it be a weekend, a few days/week away or a fortnight’s pitching over in Europe, camping actually forces you to slow down. There’s something about being surrounded by nature that puts less emphasis on the clock, and more focus on feeling everything around you. The breeze in your hair, the birdsong reminding the world that it’s time to snuggle down for sleep. The smell of sausages cooking on the barbecue, and the sound of children’s laughter as they spin in the grass before landing in a tangled, giggling heap.

I wouldn’t call us ‘seasoned campers’ but we’ve been a few times to know that we love it. As it’s all about the Staycation this year, we decided to upgrade to a larger tent to accommodate our 2.4 children family (The 0.4 being the hubby, obviously). Having found a lovely looking campsite in St. Neots, we took the plunge and joined the Caravan and Camping Club for access to certified and listed sites, as well as club sites.

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Enjoying a spot of lunch at the Weeping Ash, St Neots
For a two-night stay in a beautiful place closer to the Home Counties, St Neots Camping and Caravanning Club site lives up to its 4 and 5 star reviews. A river runs along the back of the campsite, perfect for fishing enthusiasts (although fishing is only available during the season). It’s also a great site for walkers – a short (buggy-friendly) walk through a path that runs alongside the river takes you into the town of St Neots and The Green Corridor. We took the walk into town and enjoyed a lovely stroll by the water and through parkland – very popular with dog owners (and dogs of course) and children, and our own youngsters were delighted to spot three play areas on the way into town. On the campsite itself, the toilets and showers are cleaned daily to a high standard, and they also have a family room for parents with younger children – including a changing unit and a baby bath. On our arrival, one of the site managers walked us to our pitch after checking with us whether we would require the use of the parent and child room, and subsequently led us to a pitch that was close enough (without being too close) to the facilities to make our life easier. Not only this, but he made a conscious point of placing us at the furthest point away from the river (although I think Mr C would have preferred a spot a bit closer to the water – and I’d have been forever chasing our youngest away from the edge) for the safety of the children.  The staff were more than accommodating, and as their slogan suggests (The Friendly Club), extremely welcoming and friendly, having plenty of time to engage in conversation with our chattiest child whilst trying to supply us with the site information. The site is open to members and non-members, with electric hook-up and shop (although the opening hours are limited), and everything else you might need is only a stroll away.

Despite the fact we have so many other sites to visit (a whole country to explore, and more!) and intend to make the most of our club membership and new tent, we’ve already decided we’ll return to St Neots Camping and Caravanning Club Site.

If you’ve never tried camping, give it a go. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Part of this blog post was written as a review for WikiPlacesForKids.com – the site to go to for parents and kids who need some inspiration – or just that much-needed hour out of the house! 

Three Toddler-Friendly Walks in South Cornwall

When you’re visiting the west-country with small children in tow, and you’re on a limited budget, it can be a little challenging trying to find suitable activities to keep the whole family busy – especially when the weather is on the cooler side of warm and not quite beachy enough to spend hours playing in the sand and sea.

Continue reading

Days out with kids: Brixworth Country Park, Northampton

This isn’t the first time we’ve been here, but as the girls totally loved their ‘grand day out’ (which was meant to be Brighton, but that’s another story), I felt compelled to share this little gem for anyone looking for a spontaneous free* day out.

Situated just outside of Northampton, Brixworth Country Park is free to use, with a choice of three walks, each one a different ability level/distance, so you can determine which route to take before you set off. The shortest route says to allow around 30 minutes, but it took us only 20 minutes. Continue reading

Days out with kids: Milton Keynes Museum Review

 

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A.E. and S.H. Chapman Wheelwrights – hubby’s great-grandfather

We visited the MK Museum for A Victorian Family Christmas at the beginning of December, and were pleasantly surprised at the vast amount of artefacts, displays and historical re-enactments available for the whole family. A ticket into the museum grants you repeated access for 12 months from the date of purchase.

Stepping back in time as we entered the house, we found ourselves transported to the Victorian era where crackling fires, carols and parlour games greeted us in one room, while gramophones and organ grinders entertained us in another. The rooms were small so pushchairs are not advisable, and I would recommend keeping your little ones close by to avoid small fingers grabbing at valuable relics! If you have toddlers you may want to visit the museum at a quieter time when the organisers aren’t running one of the many exciting events presented throughout the year, as space is quite tight in places. Having said that, all of the staff are incredibly welcoming and helpful. We were welcomed through with a warming glass of mulled wine, which we enjoyed while the kids did some colouring and created their own Christmas crafts in the old recreated school room, giving us a chance to peruse some of the material on display.

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Toy General Store

From here, there were classic toys – ancient rocking horses (not to be climbed on!), Victorian dolls and many, many more that your children will love to see – and probably want to touch. Some items can be handled, however others will have obvious signs if they’re out of bounds.

There was a wheelwright’s workshop (below), an old laundry room, a fire grate in the ‘kitchen’, where the youngsters could have a go at making some toast, and beyond here we marvelled at the old-fashioned shops, including a replica of a local chemist, a pub, a Post Office (selling sweeties in a jar), and a cobblers, to name a few. There is so much there to see and do, you simply can’t see it all at once.

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Wheelwright’s workshop

Older children will be fascinated by the history found in this museum, while younger children will love role play with the endless number of telephones on display here. As mentioned before, it’s perhaps not a great place for unruly toddlers, but generally speaking (if you’re not of a nervous disposition or have very well-behaved small people), this is a great way to keep the whole family entertained, especially if you’re looking for an unconventional few hours away from home.

This review was written for Wiki Places For Kids – for parents who are looking for a stress-free time out.