Easter aghhhh! Two weeks of keeping the children occupied, juggling work and organising childcare- what the hell are we going to do?
How are we going to afford this? It can be pricey business taking children out and about, especially when you have to allow for admissions, lunch, coffee and cake. What are we going to do? Two weeks is a long time. We have a few days of work to break it up, but that means planning the childcare. Even more pressure on delivering good days out for the children. How are we going to cope? It’s going to be great spending days with the children without the restriction of school or nursery but bloody tiring. So stamina for us and hopefully a few coffees thrown in. We need to see everyone! Children have busy social lives. We need a school friend day, life long friend day, family day, NCT day, to name but a few. Not forgetting home and collapse day (with an after bedtime glass of vino).
Here is a snap shot of how we survived and a little inspiration for your next school holiday. We really look forward to spending quality time with our children and we have found the key to success is in the organising, supportive friends and getting a balance.
National Trust- Claremont Landscape Gardens
We are very lucky as Claremont Landscape Gardens is down the road. We arrived before opening as there is usually a queue. We are members, so admission was free (this includes all National Trust venues for a monthly fee), for non members, adults are £8 and child £4. The weather wasn’t the best, but we are outside folk and carry on regardless. Kids never notice a bit of rain. You can take dogs on the lead, but on this occasion we kept it simple with just the kids. We turned up for an Easter Egg hunt, but unfortunately we were a few days too early and luckily they had the Princess Charlotte Trail which kept Sampson very happy and Theo in tow. But even without a trail, there was so much to explore. We set off around the gardens, hiding in daffodils, dressing up along the way (we also couldn’t resist a little role play), climbing trees and running legs off. At the end of the trail there is a playground and café. Children’s meals are available but once they spotted the brownies, it was all over. Great for either a whole day or just to kill a few hours.
RHS Wisley Gardens
We are not members of RHS Wisley and the membership is different to National Trust. You can be taken in on friend’s cards rather than only the named members. A free day for us! (Usually £14 for an adult, free for under 5s and £7 for a child). Wisley had the Lindt Golden Bunny Trail which was perfect for Sampson’s age group. We set off round the gardens to find the bunnies, with the boys running at full pace between the clues. There is an extensive adventure playground, soft play areas in the cafes and an educational classroom for the children to get their hands dirty. We took a packed lunch to keep costs down. I did treat myself to a cuppa and a cake- well needed by lunchtime. The main attraction are the huge fish. If your boys are anything like ours, keep them away from the water as we nearly had a fishap. The fish are not there to be fished… It gets very busy and the car parks fill up quickly, so get there early. It is big enough to escape the buggy traffic and there were areas we didn’t have time to visit. Beautiful gardens and enjoyable for all ages.
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace has a fantastic playground called the Magic garden (visit time 2 hour slots). We always visit every holiday as it is brilliant for all ages, even teenagers as it is huge. There is sand, water, climbing, slides, hills to roll down, the list goes on. It is set in the magic of the palace, which adds even more excitement for the children. There is a little café in the playground, but we choose to have lunch at the Tiltyard café in the palace grounds. We brought packed lunches for the boys and us mums treated ourselves to coffee and cake from the café’s huge selection. Also included in the price of the Magic Garden (£7.70 for an adult, £5.50 for a child) is the maze. If you are keeping costs down, this is a great way to enjoy the palace. We get to walk round the informal gardens, playground and maze. We all love the maze and you’d think we would know the way by now! We were easily at Hampton Court all day and the children loved it. It is also an ideal spot to meet friends and picnic in the informal gardens, there is no admission fee for this. The palace is on the river perfectly located as a ‘walk to’ place, especially from the number of cafes over the bridge. A visit to the ice cream van is a must!
The Medicine Garden
Where do we start with this adventure! We parked at the Medicine Garden, a Victorian walled garden in Cobham, Surrey, and thought we would just do a little walk first to build an appetite. After googling footpaths, we found the closest one and jumped on it. Boys, dogs and buggy in tow. It wasn’t buggy friendly as such; it was definitely a work out for us. We followed the footpath which lead to a number of hurdles. If we could have left the buggy, we could have. The amount of times we hoisted the bloody thing over the stiles… extreme HIIT training. The troopers we are, we carried on and would not be defeated. The icing on the cake was being chased by a herd of horses who were very friendly but to a 6-year-old, very scary. We made it through and on the way back stuck to the road. At the Medicine Garden we had lunch, actual lunch, not packed lunch or just cake. Your own picnic is not allowed. They have a good children’s menu, sandwiches and of course cake. There is another café if you want more variety and shops to nose around. Keep an eye out for events during the year. A playground and beautiful grounds for kiddies to explore with a picturesque setting for photo opportunities.
Road trip to West Wittering! This was our best friend day with all the children. 8 kids, 5 adults and 2 dogs, are we mad? The journey down was just over an hour, a bit longer for one of our friends who broke down. She made it and the gang was reunited. The scenery along the way is classic British countryside and gorgeous villages. There are plenty of places for pit and wee spots. The car park costs £4 per car. We were lucky it wasn’t that busy as on nicer days, it is a struggle to get in. The beach was windy; we know beaches are windy but this was extreme wind. No one could see or escape the constant shower of sand. We all resembled Daft Vader trying to breathe through our make shift masks. In desperation we retreated to behind the beach huts and found a wind free spot. Here we set up camp and popped open the prosecco. There was a lot of walking to and from the sea, perfect for wearing out human and canine legs. There is constant stimulation from creating sand masterpieces, in Theo’s case eating sand and space for the children to run themselves silly. The dogs loved investigating other people’s picnics and bbqs. The only downfall of the beach for some is the SAND, it was a tough day for one mum! We ate fish and chips from the chippie, a bit pricey but very yummy. There is a café for the usual seaside merchandise, and indoor seating for rainy days. We did bring a lot of snacks and drinks to keep hungry kids at bay. There are toilets and water taps on site to wash sandy feet and spare clothes are a must to ensure comfy car journeys home. We were there all day and had very tired babies by the end of it. We are still finding sand in bags, cars, ears…
To sum up, our Easter has been a jam packed two weeks of non stop fun, laughter, ups and downs, naps and early nights- that was just for us mums. Great days out as well as entertaining at home. Not all the excitement is outside the home, we did plenty of activities including gardening, arts and crafts and baking. You have enough movie nights- Rouge One is 3 hours. WE SURVIVED (with a little darker circles under our eyes and and tired limbs). Our kids made lasting memories- who can forget being chased by horses? The bank balance wasn’t completely squandered and stamina was maintained by endless cups of coffee and sugar highs of cake. Easter well and truly cracked.
Snacks- for bribery
Change of clothes- many
What app groups
Poo bags and treats
Paper and pens