We did manage one more significant activity; a trip to the the Scienceworks, a children's science museum located in Melbourne, some 70 kms from home. The kids were particularly excited because there was a Wallace and Gromit inventions exhibition on and they were rather keen to take a look.
The first thing you need to before going on an outing is to make sure that the thing/place you're going to go to is open. Tick. The second thing is to try and get excited children to get ready. I'm a firm believer in them taking responsibility for themselves. Heck their 7 and 10 and know how to get dressed and brush teeth etc. Still there is a significant effort on my part to strongly encourage them, usually via applying my dulcet tones to a higher volume than normal. Of course the snuggly small one can't do these things for herself (and she still has no teeth to brush anyway) so whilst urging my other charges on, I had to prepare the cute one.
Most her preparation is pretty obvious; nappy, clothes and dummy. Then recheck clothes to ensure she has enough to be warm; do I need her beanie? What about a coat? And then of course there is the packing for her. So much stuff to take including nappies, bags for used nappies, wipes, spare clothes, a bib, toys, change mat, dog collar...hang on what the heck is that doing in the nappy bag? Bloody kids....where was I? Food, bowl, spoon, pusher, blanket, spare plastic bags for god knows what, spare dummy, dummy chain, baby bjorn and probably other stuff I forgot.
Oh and always have a plan B, but more on that later.
"Have you got your iPods?"
In this day and age its easy to entertain older kids whilst going on a drive. Sure there are always books (for those that don't get car sick), car games like eye-spy and car cricket, and small toys with which they can play, but this is the age of handheld electronic device, and its brilliant; namely because it shuts them up.
When I was a child car trips were something a bit like this:
iPods and the like mean those days are over!
When we arrived at Scienceworks we found it just a wee bit busy. As we carefully tried to shark a car space we noted that the line we all the way around the building. That's a damn lot of people! It's ok, we'll get in, I'll just keep looking for that car park. er, no? No car parks within at least 500 metres, well stuff that, time to unveil plan B.
It's important to be able to quickly summarise the situation and make a call, otherwise arguments and kids getting upset (and noisy) will happen. And nobody wants that. So we made a call. That's right we. I've found the best way to deal with my kids in these situations is to lead them to the decision you want to make, but get them to think they are making it. So I involved them in the decision making process, all the while driving toward our new destination, the Museum. Even though it was another 20 minutes or so in the car, and there was no Wallace and Gromit exhibition there, it wasn't a difficult decision to lead them them to. "Do you want to go ALL the way home without having done anything?" "We could go to the Museum, it's not that far." "And there's a really good ice cream shop right by there." and so the decision was made, and the best thing was that I got to get some awesome Tiramisu ice cream, and yes that was always part of my plan B. Having a plan B is very important, because it aids in avoiding the upset children (and strangely often leads me to having nice ice cream).
So we did the museum thing, we got ice creams, we had lunch in a lovely park (in the drizzle); and we went home again. All in all a great day out. Thanks plan B! You're a life saver.
Oh and one thing, think really hard about the types of outings you might go on, because if you ignore the fact that its school holidays you could be in for a rude shock. Never go to Scienceworks on school holidays. Lesson learned.