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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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. 

‘A day off?’ she laughed. ‘Don’t be silly dear, I’m a mother.’

I decided to take a day off today.

I never stop. Never. Never get a day off. Never get to just impulsively hop in my car and disappear for the day. Not without intricate planning. That is a luxury pre-parenthood. Because, let’s face it, once you become a parent, your life is no longer your own.

Oh no, wait, I'm a mom
Oh no, wait, I’m a mom

As a writer, I’m always pushing myself to work at every spare opportunity I get to myself, which means ‘me’ time regrettably takes a back seat. Whatever my vocation in life may be, whether I work in retail, in an office, or from home; first and foremost I am a mother, and I guarantee every single mother will identify with this.

Your day starts as soon as you open your eyes, when the first thing you hear is the click of your child’s bedroom door down the hall, followed by a mini-elephant running across the landing and bursting into your bedroom. The first thing you feel, is your child’s knee in your stomach and elbow in your face as they climb up next to you for morning cuddles. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE morning cuddles, but occasionally I get to experience that rare moment of waking up before my child, when I have just a few precious minutes to gather my thoughts before the day starts. And so it begins. A long, challenging day of random conversations, cleaning, washing, fetching drinks, snacks, chiding, coaxing, pleading, prising crayons out of sticky mitts before they connect with the wall, rocking in the corner… right up until that delicious hour before your own bedtime, when you get to do your best impression of a stoned zombie. Except, for me, this is also my time to catch up on other necessities like texts from family and friends, social networking, not to mention the growing list of catch up TV which is clogging up the Sky box. When I do get to bed, I like to indulge in making a dent in my To Be Read pile, which I manage for approximately half an hour before my eyes start to roll back in my head. This is all providing I haven’t had numerous return-calls upstairs to check the wet and windy weather, or say goodnight to the moon, or change a nappy, fetch a drink, or just for a cuddle (I don’t mind this one, of course). If I’m lucky, I’ll get a full seven hours with no interruptions, although this is rare.
Once again, before we know it, we’ve come full circle and are doing it all again.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love my life, I really do. I left the security of a full-time salary in favour of looking after my family while working on my writing career, with only one income coming into our home. I make no secret of the fact that my husband is the bread-winner, although some days I really miss having an income of my own [sobs]. But the fact remains that whether I have an office job, or am a stay-at-home mum while trying desperately to create an income of my own from home, my main role – motherhood – never stops. A mother is on call 24/7, has the patience of a saint (mostly, with off days), is the peacemaker, home-maker, problem-solver, nutritionist, nurse, counsellor, and many more.

Anyone who thinks being a parent is easy – particularly being a stay-at-home mum (and childminders will identify with this) has clearly never done it.

Motherhood – no, scratch that – parenthood (not forgetting the stay-at-home Dads whose wives go out into the ‘real world’ to earn the main income) – is bloody hard work. But, when all is said and done, it’s also the most rewarding job in the world, and I wouldn’t change it for a second.

I have to go now. Someone just pulled the entire toilet roll off the holder.

Important note: As indicated by this blog post, any mention of time-off was theoretical and never actually happened.