That Friday night glass of wine tastes all the sweeter knowing there is an extra day in the weekend thanks to that old British tradition of the bank holiday. These little beauties have a tendency to pop up just at the right time, when the school run is becoming just a little too repetitive, and the email inbox is wearing you down. I appreciate that not everyone has the chance to participate in bank holiday glory but for those who do, it’s an opportunity to really make the most of the time off.
Save the housework for Sunday, and use the holiday as an excuse to get away from screens, the home and the unfinished chores tormenting you and go somewhere with your offspring. And if, like me, you have a seven-year-old to keep happy, here are some of my tips for days out that won’t disappoint the most demanding.
Turn scientist for a day
Does your seven-year-old ask endless questions that only a Google search can answer? Yip, mine too. Apparently this is part of their development. After spending a couple of years’ hard graft mastering reading, writing and basic maths, they’re now starting to appreciate learning and are gaining the confidence to explore big topics. If your mind can’t keep up then a science centre is a great place to allow them to indulge this side of their intellect, while still having fun. We recently had a great day out at the Glasgow Science Centre. Hours of play were had for mind and body, plus I learned a lot too. And this is an activity that isn’t weather-dependent, which is just as well given the erratic weather that’s been bothering most of the UK.
Head to the beach
We live on an island, which means we’re never too far away from the coast. How lucky are we? Beaches are never boring for children; there is no limit to the exploring that can be had. For those ever-expanding minds, a beach visit can combine physics, geography and biology. Explain tidal movements to your seven-year-old, study unusual rock formations or go looking for marine life. And if you can’t be bothered with all of that, there are few things better than building a massive sandcastle just to knock it all down. Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is obviously obligatory.
Go down to the woods
If the coast is just a drive too far, find your local woodland. It’s a natural playground waiting to be explored. Your kids will keep themselves entertained for hours gathering sticks, hiding in makeshift dens and just letting their imagination wild. All you have to do is wander behind, enjoy the tranquillity and maybe carry the many sticks deemed worthy of collection. It’s all free entertainment too, which is a bonus. And you’re unlikely to find a gift shop or ice cream van so will avoid the pressure of pester power.
Scale dizzy heights
According to experts, seven-year-olds have well developed co-ordination and bundles of energy. I’m sure many of us could testify to the latter. My son was never very comfortable with scaling climbing frames but has since reconnected with his inner adventurer and , has fallen in love with indoor climbing walls. We have a very respectable climbing centre in Ratho, Edinburgh, but you can find indoor climbing centres in most major cities, and find access to a climbing wall in many leisure centres or soft play places. It’s something you can both do and maybe learn together for some all-important family bonding time. Plus, your seven year old will relish the challenge, gain a confidence boost, and expend some of that pent-up energy. It’s great exercise too, which usually means an early night. Well, sometimes.
Get your skates on
I’ve always been slightly petrified of the skate park. I can visualise far too many accidents waiting to happen. But we tried it recently, and I tried not to hover by the side with my giant cotton wool arms outstretched. Toby was fairly cautious with the ramps he tried with his scooter but he really really enjoyed what he was brave enough to do, gradually building up to (gulp) bigger and bigger slopes. In fact it became difficult to drag him away. He was mostly mesmerised by the stunts performed by the big kids (actually young adults). I’m just hoping he wasn’t too inspired. Nerves aside, it was a really fun way to spend some time together and Instagrammers will appreciate the photography opportunities to be found at a skate park. Most towns and cities have outdoor skate parks as well as indoor facilities which can often offer equipment hire, lessons and safety briefings.