Staying Sane On A Day Out With The Kids

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When you have your first child, you tend to have an idyllic idea in your head about what you think parenthood will be like. You picture yourself effortlessly flitting between capable mother and social butterfly, between devoted wife and the 'fun parent' - all with very happy, well-behaved kids in tow. However, while this may be a reality that you do get to experience upon occasion, you will soon start to realize that frequently, parenting can be an uphill struggle. The fact that this comes as a surprise to many new parents can partially be blamed on the image of parenthood that TV and movies present to us, making it look easy. We all want an easy life when it comes to raising our kids, for both them and us, but you may soon realize that if you are not prepared for every eventuality, you could find yourself in a sticky situation.

Take the family day out, for example. This is something that many parents think they can simply fly into with their kids, and everything will go swimmingly. Sometimes, on a fluke, it can. But more often than not you may attempt a family day out where everything seems to go wrong - your child has a tantrum, you forget half the things you were supposed to bring and on top of everything you end up getting lost. This can all make for a pretty stressful day, not the nice family bonding event you had in mind. But remember that even if you find the prospect daunting, having a day out with your children and partner can be a great way to bring you all closer together. It's no secret that these days kids are becoming increasingly sedentary and spending more and more time indoors. Therefore, it's your role as a parent to encourage them to spend some time away from the screen, enjoying some of the outside world. Here are just a few tips on how you can make sure your family day out runs as smoothly as possible, so it's something you and your children can regularly do.

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Pick an appropriate attraction

The first thing to do is to decide where you are going to go. If it's the first time you have taken your kids on a full day out, make sure it isn't too far away - long journeys only tend to make kids bored, and when they are bored they can get irritable. The next thing to be aware of is the attraction or event itself that you will be attending. Bear in mind the age of your kids - will they be able to understand and comprehend what you have taken them to? For example, your ten-year-old may be perfectly okay with going to a museum as they will be able to read all the signs and fully immerse themselves in the experience. Your five year old, however, may find that the whole thing goes over their head somewhat. Try and find something that is suitable for all ages so that everyone (including you!) can enjoy the day.  

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Keep them safe

In the home, you tend to have full control over your children and the things they get up to. Therefore, the level of risk they are typically exposed to within your four walls are pretty low. On a day out, however, this changes completely. We all know how hard it is to find the time to take your kids out for a treat when you work full time and when you have so many other responsibilities. So, the last thing any of us want is for that day to be ruined by an illness or by an accident. Chances are you'll be traveling to your destination by car, so the first thing to consider is whether your children have the appropriate car or booster seat in your vehicle. Most states have a law that states a child up to a certain height legally has to use a specialized seat when traveling in a car, so by failing to provide this, you could be breaking the law. You may also want to consider baby car seat covers if you are traveling in otherwise extreme weather conditions, as these will help to keep your child more comfortable.

Make sure your children have dressed appropriately for wherever you are going - for example, they will need to wear sturdy shoes if you are planning on spending the day outdoors. Ensure you have any emergency medication you may need on your person as well, such as if your child is diabetic and may require an insulin shot. But it's not just about medical conditions that could flare up while you are out and about with your little ones. Stranger danger is also something else you need to be aware of when you are going out in public with your kids. As unlikely as it is that you will come across anyone unsavory, it is unsurprising that many parents are unwilling to take the risk. Sit your kids down before you go out and explain to them what they need to do if someone tries to make them go off with them while you are out and about. Tell them that you are not trying to nag, or trying to spoil their fun, but you are just trying to keep them safe. Ask them not to run anywhere out of your eye line and if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable, to tell you immediately.

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Keep them occupied

Children can be so typical sometimes - you've brought them on a day out that you think will be perfect for them, yet an hour in and they are already whining that they are bored. This can be hugely frustrating, but it is important to bear in mind that children's attention spans are significantly lower than ours. It has been reported that a child between the ages of five and six years old has an attention span of around ten to fifteen minutes. That is, they are capable of attending to the same activity for that period before they have to move onto something else. Be aware of this when on your day out - if you are at a museum or some other kind of attraction where there are lots of things to see, don't expect your kids to spend a long time at every individual display. Keep them moving, and you will (hopefully!) avoid too many complaints.

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Encourage good behavior

It's one thing your child kicking off and throwing a tantrum in your own home. But when they do it in public, where all eyes are on you, it can be completely mortifying. Children often cause a scene in public because they know it distresses you and that they can have the upper hand in the situation, so above everything else it is vital that you stay calm. If you do need to discipline your child in public, try not to raise your voice, as this will only escalate the situation. Instead, use a low, quiet voice, but one that has enough threat in it to make your child realize that you are serious. Ask them to stop what they are doing and tell them that if they don't, you will be returning home and the day out will be over. This is a useful tactic as it acts as a preventative rather than a cure. Once your child is in the grip of their tantrum, all reason tends to go out of the window, so it's best to stop one happening in the first place. Your child will soon realize that being well-behaved allows them to experience much more fun, family days out, and you will have a more harmonious parenting experience as a result.


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