Are we there yet?

Successful Family Outings

One thing we often do as a family are outings, some like our trip to the shopping center last weekend was a bit of a flop, ok it was more like please don’t make me ever do that again type of an outing.  Others, like the outing to Mount Tamaro the very next day was fantastic. Same people, same weekend, what was the difference? Well, for the shopping center I had failed to do my usual planning which goes a bit like this:

Location: Choosing an age appropriate and family friendly location is key. Some places on my list are  Shopping centers, Zoo’s, Children’s museums, farms, mini golf, playgrounds, State Parks or Town Forrest, Bike Trails, Amusement Parks, swimming pool, Lake or Beach.

Planning: The next step is finding out everything about the place: Opening hours, cost, transportation, parking, stroller friendliness, availability and types of food, restrooms, attractions and activities appropriate for each child and even other nearby attractions.   It takes maybe 10-15 minutes on the web but it’s worth it to know for example if bringing a lunch could save not only money but  the hassle of waiting in line at the one and only restaurant in the place.

Packing: I don’t ever want to be stuck not having an extra shirt again!  The basics to bring besides the stocked diaper bag for baby are:

one complete outfit per child            disinfectant wipes            sunscreen
mini first aid kit                                        dry snacks                          water

Oh and a camera with a full battery. I also keep a backup bag with stuff in the car at all times.  I’ve learned the hard way I best get this all packed the night before.

Departure: Although flexibility is needed, having set time as to when we are leaving the house and then sticking to it as close as possible, works best.  Additionally, helping everyone get ready and giving choices “Would you like  to use the potty or put on shoes first” and time cues to get out the door helps to avoid surprises. “We are leaving in 10/5/3  minutes.”  Usually chaos can be avoided (read lessened) if shoes, jackets etc.. have been found the night before although this part is  something we are working on!

Travel: We usually pick places that take no more than one hour to get to so music, books on tape, books, small toys, are all the ways we have found to circumvent the fact that we do not yet have a car DVD player.  The boys self-entertain most of the time and back seat squabbles are quickly forgotten if we play a game like “I Spy” together.

Arrival: Quickly going over the plan for the day, choosing a meeting spot in case someone gets lost and pointing out where restrooms are located, are great ways to avoid potential problems. Something else to watch out for are little ones getting hungry and or tired and attending to those needs quickly. Otherwise we just enjoy wherever it is we are visiting.

Exit: When the time to leave is approaching, time cues and giving everyone a chance to choose “one last thing” to see or do, combined with a very cheesy yet effective “Let’s leave nicely so we can visit again another time” has made transitioning from attractions back to the car much easier, not always seamless but definitely easier.

Jackpot: If I can get my act together I try to pack  some kind of snack for the return trip and some different toys, although for now luckily at the end of a good outing everyone ends up snoozing all the way home.  Happy Travels!

Do you have a favorite place to go on the weekends?

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

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