No one has had a (completely) public meltdown = successful family day out
So as you can see we set the bar fairly low in our family for trips; you have to understand that we don’t have a great track record for getting to places without one of the boys emptying their stomachs via their mouths (on the way to my sisters wedding, just as we pull into the car park at Playbarn, driving to the swimming pool…you get the idea) or someone having a complete melt down due to over tiredness (when checking into our holiday lodge on our first ever holiday with both boys, it took us a record 7 hours to calm Aubrey (who was then 2 years old) down so that he wasn’t scared of sleeping in a wood cabin - needless to say on the final day he refused to leave and exclaimed to anyone who would listen that he wanted to live in the woods FOREVER (just to avoid any confusion we did after some deliberation decide to coax him into the car and brought him home with us)).
However, a year into being a family of 4 we have definitely got better at picking days out that don’t bring too much stress or aggravation. The following are the key things we have learnt when out and about with a baby and a 2-3 year old:
- When leaving the house for more than 20 minutes with a tiny baby, have 3 complete sets of clothes if you don’t want to end up wandering around TESCO with a naked baby, getting concerned looks from shoppers.
- Pack how many snacks you think you need, double it, then add another 2 extra things.
- Do not under any circumstances travel longer than 15 minutes in a car without air conditioning with a child who looks pale and ever so slightly clammy.
- Do not plan to do more than 1 ambitious thing in a day when you have a tiny baby and a 2 year old. It will not end well.
- Do keep in your car: a kitchen roll, a box of tissues, a pack of baby wipes, a blanket, a bottle of water, quiet toys and a CD with annoying children’s songs on it.
- Do invest in a buggy board if you do a lot of walking with your pram/buggy and have a toddler who isn’t great at walking long distances - we have a Lascal one and it is probably in my top 3 purchases when we had baby number 2. At the end of a trip out (or let’s face it on the way out if it’s a bad day!) we plop our 3 year old onto it and avoid the repeated ‘can you CARRY me’ demands.
- Do keep it local; there are probably loads of things just on your doorstep that you’ve never even visited that won’t require an hours logistical planning to fit in around feeds/nappy changes/naps/meals….
- Do go with your gut; if you have the feeling that today is just not the day to go to that place you’ve been wanting to go for ages (because someone or everyone is tired/grumpy/coming down with a cold/feeling irritable) then don’t do it! Wait to go on a day that feels positive rather than force an outing that you’re just not really feeling.
So having said all that, for any fellow Norfolkians or anyone planning a trip to my neck of the woods, here are a few places that I would highly recommend if you have very young children. They are all places we've been with a baby and a 2-3 year old. I've included mostly independent places as it's easier to find out about the mainstream chains and big destinations:
Gorleston: A trip to the beach (I honestly don’t think there is much that can beat building sandcastles and digging tunnels while eating ice cream) followed by yummy food and drinks at either Margo’s Lounge or Gambas restaurant (both have high chairs, baby change and very family friendly menu and atmosphere).
Great Yarmouth: St George’s Park and Quayside Plaza restaurant in the town centre are big hits with us, plus the Marina Centre swimming pool and Sealife Centre are also firm favourites (and you’ve got to walk down the seafront to take in all of the good old tourist attractions, donkey rides and cafes).
Norwich: Day out at Norwich Castle (you really can spend almost a whole day there) or swing by the superb children's section of the Millenium Library in the Forum (there is also a very good Pizza Express in there too with amazing kids menu, mooch around the shops and check out Norwich Mumbler (also on Insta and Facebook) who has now started adding her sticker to places she has checked out with her little ones and ticked off as being family friendly.
Somerleyton: When the sun is shining, a walk around the beautiful, picturesque grounds of Somerleyton Hall is truly a perfect way to spend the day. Pack up your picnic (and the other 3 bags of baby and toddler paraphernalia you need) and prepare for a chilled and quiet outing (well as quiet as it can be with children anyway). NB I would NOT advise strolling unprepared into the maze with a 4 month old baby who is due a feed in less than 1 hour (and is due to have a code brown nappy) and a 2 year old who is VERY hot. However I can confirm that when you reach the centre of the maze, the narrow concrete benches do double as changing tables. If no one has had a melt down after you’ve completed the maze, you could celebrate with a drink at The Dukes Head or The Fritton Arms.
Poringland (Near Norwich): Playbarn - I think their tagline used to be ‘Heaven for under 7s’ and I am going to put my hand on my heart and say I actually think it lives up to this claim!! It is a higgledy piggledy barn conversion featuring numerous indoor and outdoor play areas; an indoor beach, small petting zoo, ride on cars and a controllable digger to name a few. You can bring your own food or buy from their cafe and there are all of the family friendly devices that you would expect (including a strap in seat in adult toilet cubicles to keep toddlers contained while you go to the toilet!).
Hoveton: We easily spent a whole day at Wroxham Barns, you can bring your own picnic but there is also a nice cafe. If you have children who are ‘vehicle fans’ like we do then it is paradise with lots of ride on cars etc but they do all cost extra so you need to factor this in to the cost of the day. You can push a buggy pretty much everywhere and all in all its a nice family trip out.
That's all folks
So thats my little round-up! It’s a bit off the top of my head (the way I seem to do most things these days!) it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a comprehensive list and we are yet to go to lots of places as the boys aren’t old enough for a lot of the local attractions, but I hope this helps with one or two ideas if you have similar aged children to us. If you have any recommendations for me I’d love to hear them too.
I’d just like to finish by saying that the inspiration for this blog post came from fellow Instamum blogger @mumasaurus87 who recently posted a blog about her home town Birmingham (when I read it, it totally made me want to go there!) and asked for more parents to write their own versions…so this is thanks to you @mumasaurus87!
Hope you've had a lovely stress free (!) weekend in the sun