By in Family

What's a suitable day out with children?

IN SCOTLAND THE school summer holidays have started and parents (and grandparents) are faced with the difficult task of keeping children amused without spending too much money for the next 6-7 weeks.

Sending them outside to play is fine for some but for those who live in a big town or city there are worries about traffic, stranger danger, etc. and they could be led astray by older children into activities and situations which are not suitable for them.

Speaking personally I am happy with a hike through the hills - at any time of year in any weather (unless it’s really extreme that is). But I do realise that this isn’t to everyone’s taste - especially if there are very young children involved.

A zoo or some similar wildlife experience is always popular with children, provided they don’t have to walk too far, but zoos can be expensive. The nearest big zoo to us is in our nation’s capital, Edinburgh, and the last time my wife and I went there it cost us £31 just to get in - and that’s without any kids! If we take our three grand-daughters we wouldn’t get any change out of £100 - allowing for snacks, guide books, souvenirs, etc.

That’s an expensive day out!

Of course, there is always the local park which has full facilities for young children in the shape of a play area with swings, roundabouts, duck pond with boats and such and we do take them there but the weather in Scotland can’t be relied on to be good all day (there is a saying: ‘If you don’t like the weather just wait 20 minutes - it will change!).

We can, of course, keep them going with books and craft activities at home but they can't do that every day so we often resort to a simple walk in the woods or a walk around a local nature reserve which has two medium-sized lochs as part of it. We can always guarantee to see some interesting bird life there and turn the walk into a nature lesson.

Our oldest grand-daughter (just turned 13) has reached the stage when ‘child’s stuff’ (her words) no longer do it for her so now we have to think of things like movies at the weekend to keep her happy; another potentially expensive day out - and it gets worse! She is now into fashion and her ideal day out is a trip to our indoor retail centre (mall) for a new outfit!

INTERESTING FACT: Did you know that a software company once buried a $1000 prize deep in the small print of its licence agreement to see if anyone actually read them? It took five months and 3000 sales before anyone asked about the prize!

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bestwriter wrote on July 12, 2015, 9:31 AM

Here in India there are holiday camps where children are sent. They spend the whole day there. I think you will find them in your country too. I just found a link - This is just an example I am giving you.

Kasman wrote on July 12, 2015, 9:39 AM

Yes, they are here but they aren't cheap and they tend to be aimed at older children and they are so hamstrung by health and safety legislation that I question how much fun they actually are!

bestwriter wrote on July 12, 2015, 9:44 AM

I think one needs to weigh the pros and cons. The situation in India is bad. Both parents work and the children are left alone to fend for themselves. They therefore opt for this alternative. My sister runs a school and also has summer camps for kids up to the age of 6.

wolfgirl569 wrote on July 12, 2015, 10:09 AM

Ahhh the teen years. Glad I raised 2 boy through that

Kasman wrote on July 12, 2015, 10:33 AM

Neither is it in our culture to send our children away to summer camp - certainly not for a multi-day stay - although during school term adventure trips of several days are organised to various outdoor venues in Scotland by the school

Kasman wrote on July 12, 2015, 10:33 AM

You got off lightly! emoticon :smile:

Kasman wrote on July 12, 2015, 10:48 AM

It's pretty obvious you don't have kids! Firstly, they wouldn't do it and secondly they certainly wouldn't do it for a dollar!

bestwriter wrote on July 12, 2015, 11:07 AM

No one wants its that way but when both parents are working and there is no one else who can monitor kids' activities in their absence I see no other way. Do you have your own thoughts on this?

melody23 wrote on July 12, 2015, 11:16 AM

While not a totally inexpensive day out, if you have a car Blair Drummond Safari Park is an excellent day out for kids and adults. They have places where you can set up your own barbecue or eat a picnic if you bring one and you can literally spend all day there looking about. I highly recommend the sea lion display.

Dragonfairy1 wrote on July 12, 2015, 11:19 AM

I'm always shocked how expensive days out can be, I once priced beamish to take my stepdaughter and her 3 children, and I think that was over a hundred pound. We didn't go :)

Kasman wrote on July 12, 2015, 1:11 PM

Been there, done that - it's only about an hour from where we life in Fife. Like just about every outdoor experience how enjoyable it is depends on the weather but it's a very likely possibility again.

melody23 wrote on July 12, 2015, 1:48 PM

Beamish is great, I was there with the school as a child and still remember it fondly. I didn't realise it was that expensive though.

CoralLevang wrote on July 12, 2015, 2:50 PM

Hiking is so nice. Good for that 13yo!! And for you, Grandpa!

Kasman wrote on July 12, 2015, 3:45 PM

The trouble with that is that it's very hard to find Goretex hiking shoes with high heels for her! emoticon :smile:

MegL wrote on July 12, 2015, 3:52 PM

We live by the sea. Days out with the granddaughters include trips to the beach, walks round the lighthouse, visits to the local park and films on Netflix. Carnfunnock park is only about half an hour away by car and that's a great lot of outdoor stuff including a great play park. Sometimes I take one or two of them into Belfast by train and we go round St George's market and look at the lobsters and crabs, get a cake or bun, maybe have a face paint and walk slowly round to a shop. There are also the Botanic gardens with the palm House, the Ulster Museum and the Tropical Ravine if it's wet. They MIGHT get a book or a soft toy. We are not into expensive days out. Their parents can do that.

MarshaMusselman wrote on July 12, 2015, 7:14 PM

In America there are playgrounds ap!enty similar to what's in your picture. And, they're free. In my city there are similar playgrounds on most neighborhoods. When young we played for hours either inside or outside and entertained ourselves even though our mom was home.

The thing you said about the weather, is that something said in your country or just a quote you heard? Michiganders say that type of thing a lot, but I've heard it said about other states too, lol.

cheri wrote on July 12, 2015, 8:44 PM

I usually enroll my kids in swimming, art or dance lessons during summer. This is also the time when we can spend out of town trips.

Shellyann36 wrote on July 12, 2015, 10:17 PM

Oh boy I do feel for you. Girls are so different from boys. We are lucky that we live in the country and the boys do have lots of things to do outside. We do always stay out with them though because they are 5 and 3. Local parks are your best bet if you don't want to spend too much money.

arthurchappell wrote on July 13, 2015, 10:36 AM

activities are bound to vary depending on cost, travel to and from places, and what the kids are into - hopefully they will feel whatever fun they have is something to be very grateful to their parents for and the parents will love it too

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2015, 8:23 PM

Yup, it's obvious you've never had kids....

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2015, 9:24 PM

We've never had a lot of money and we homeschooled on our own dime for six years out of the twelve my eldest has been of school age. I can definitely say that kids can and will find appropriate ways to amuse themselves if nobody is running around catering to their every whim. I have a ton of ideas, but I'll post them and tag you rather than posting a book here! emoticon :winking:

WordChazer wrote on July 15, 2015, 4:16 AM

In the UK there is a great app called MiLocalforMums. It lists all the local attractions by type, cost, age range suitability and so on. Just released version 2, Android and iPhone. It was one of my review requests a few months back and I was astounded by the amount of free things there are to do that I didn't know about. I'm also with you on a walk being a great idea. My family did nature walks when I was a youngster, so I would always have cones, leaves, flowers, rosehips, bark bits in my possession. How about teaching older children the importance of housework for hygiene and cleanliness and neatness for ease of Finding Stuff Easily (ahem, I still don't know where the paperwork vanished to that my bank and solicitor are waiting for).

My husband and our friends went to Edinburgh Zoo on Tesco Clubcard points a few years back - that's always a good wheeze, to use loyalty points for summer holiday treats. The Zoo is really good value, by the way, educational and lots of walking too. We also enjoyed the Royal Yacht which we also did with Tesco Clubcard points. We thought that was even BETTER value!

As far as your eldest grandie is concerned, how about telling her that the HEIGHT of fashion is vintage clothing and taking her to the charity shops or letting her browse eBay for the bargains? Many of my favorite clothes items have been found in those two places and it is guaranteed to get comments from people wondering where she bought the clothes. My older items are always the ones which people admire (the 10 year old tunic top, the second hand Ralph Lauren polo shirt); the trousers I bought new last month have never turned a hair.

WordChazer wrote on July 15, 2015, 4:19 AM

One of these days I will make it to what I think was known as the Highland Wildlife Park when I first heard of it. Is that now the Blair Drummond? Where the polar bears are?

WordChazer wrote on July 15, 2015, 4:20 AM

Singleton Country Park is a place I have fond memories of but no doubt that too is expensive now. Loyalty points are a boon for places like that at times.

AliCanary wrote on July 16, 2015, 10:17 AM

Some museums have free admission, and I would also check with the local public library, as many of them have free programs for children.

Kasman wrote on July 16, 2015, 1:48 PM

WordChazer - The Highland Wildlife Park is just off the A9 not far south of Aviemore. Blair Drummond Safari Park is just outside Stirling.

Kasman wrote on July 16, 2015, 1:52 PM

I think it's just a general quote - there isn't really anywhere where it doesn't rain at all! We have playgrounds here too but many of the inner city ones are haunted by junkies and other undesirables so our kids are often accompanied by their parents when they go there.

Kasman wrote on July 16, 2015, 1:58 PM

I'll pass on that app to their mum. Edinburgh zoo is just across the bridge from us and we go there regularly. Haven't tried the Royal Yacht but that's a good idea and it could be combined with a trip to the Edinburgh Botanical Garden . Our grand-daughter is a bit spoiled by her mum - it's Next or Jenners or Harvey Nicks or nothing!