I love getting outdoors with the boys. To be honest, it’s not even a choice as they need to be outside come rain or shine. Over the last six years we have explored many parks around the country; from motorway service stations (M40 Beaconsfield has an amazing outdoor play area with woodlands) to National Trust properties, often with no play equipment but heaps and heaps of space to run free. Here is a round-up of some tips for things to take with you to make days out relaxed and stress free.
- Take a change of clothes
Chances are the kids will be having loads of fun in the park. Most parks with big enough trees have rope swings, which can mean mucky jumps and time spent landing in the muddy ground. Ditto kids finding puddles (which they obviously can’t walk past without a major splash), mud and roly poly hills (such a simple but fun game, try it again as an adult; it’s just as much fun as when you were a child). Going to the park with the kids in fancy dress can create all sorts of imagination games. We often head out as superheroes, firemen (and firewomen in my case) and a whole range of other characters.
2. Use your imagination (and take some string)
Not all parks have big playgrounds and some are simply huge spaces for kids to roam free. Use your imagination, become explorers, make a bow and arrow, collect old sticks to make a den or build a fairy / elf house (a tiny version) and take some string and a penknife (always good to make things with). These ideas all add to the experience and mix it up for the adults as well as the children. There’s often only so much time everyone wants to play in a playground but the space around it can be just as much fun.
3. Carry spare pants, wipes, snacks, drinks and even a portable potty
Parks are so much fun as you are out in nature, but often that can leave you caught short from the closest public conveniences, particularly when children are so busy having fun they leave it until the second before they need to go. Get the kids to carry their own snacks and drinks so that you aren’t left with a giant bag. I love these backpacks (with the added bonus of reins for the tiny toddlers (and escapees) and have my eye on this new rabbit backpack from Mamas and Papas for S (the other two have similar ones if different designs already). They are the perfect size and can be part of the adventure if loaded up with the right things (I often get the kids to choose one toy each from home to take with them to the park).
I always aim to take a fully stocked baby changing bag (Liberty have just brought out some gorgeous new designs) with nappies, spare pants, wipes and snacks.
When going to the park with a little one (we still use a buggy for S who often needs to sit down and sometimes even nap (aged 2) then take a sunshade that is also an insect net (win win), it is universal and can be used on all buggies.
4. Be travel ready
When heading further afield from home (we often go to Petworth Park which is about a 40 minute drive from Brighton) try to have the car prepped and ready (particularly for the way home when there should be some tired children inside). Make sure that you have sunshades for the car windows in the back and a good car audio book (they seem to provide peace and quiet in our car after a busy day out). A small first aid kit is a good idea to carry in the car and put some plasters and cleaning wipes into your changing bag (this saves heading home when one of them gets a small graze (which can lead to major hysterics until it’s cleaned and covered up). Always take a coat for each child; this is England after all.
The main aim of a trip to the park is for everyone to have fun, so be prepared; even if that means making a checklist on your phone to look at each time you are about to head out (the amount of times I have forgotten basics such as nappies its a joke; I need to follow my own advice here and this post is as much for me as it is for you).
Mamas and Papas have created a handy interactive map with lists of the best parks in London. We will be using this when we head up to London over the Summer as we have several days out planned (plus its only one hour from Sussex so an easy trip to make). Full a look at their full range of travel accessories take a peek here.