If you want an easy children’s day out – without tantrums, dramas, crying, wanting and toilet issues, then you’re probably living in a bit of a dream world. BUT, you can greatly increase your chances by reading this article.
I’ve asked 15 parent bloggers for their top tips for a successful children’s day out based on their years of knowledge and practice. These parent bloggers all enjoy taking their kids out (mostly) and have refined the art of having a good kids day out, thanks mainly in part to their planning and expertise.
If you’d like some tips on how to have the best children’s day out in England possible, then read on…
Top tips for a children’s day out
1. Make time to nap
Dani Ward, Diapers in Paradise
“If you are traveling with babies or toddlers, plan ahead for where and how they will nap. Naps are an essential part of a young child’s day, and as parents we know that it is important not to skip a nap. However, on a day out, we often assume that they will ‘nap on the go’ and it’ll be fine.
While napping on the go is a fabulous option and often the best plan for a day out with kids, it is still important that you build this part of the day into the itinerary. Plan something low-key for the time of day that you expect your child to nap. Know where you want to be for that time of the day, and plan it around meals as you would at home.
If your child is used to napping in the travel stroller or baby carrier, make sure you have it available at naptime. If your child does not nap well in the stroller, don’t risk ruining the trip by trying to force it. It is better to head back to the hotel or house for a midday break and get a solid nap, so that you are all ready to tackle to rest of the day out.
Building naps into the itinerary for every day is an important way to ensure that everyone has a great day out!”
2. Plan your food times
Tips for Kids Days Out, Manpreet, HelloManpreet.com
“As a carer of 4 foster kids, a day out can go in many different directions! They be very exhausting, yet incredibly fun. But a day out with kids is not something I would recommend doing without some sort of planning, and in this case, planning about food.
Planning a bunch of snacks to take along with you, will save you lots of time as you will not have to stop at different places to please every child. Why they all don’t like the same snack?
I don’t know!
It is also usually much healthier for the kids if you have snacks and water from home. When you’re out and about, it is usually not the best food for their health so with some preparation you can be sure to feed them well.
If you are out on a road trip, then there are many different cereal bars and snack bars that you can pick up at all supermarkets. These are usually based on good ingredients and will keep the kids feeling fed for a while. If there are no allergies, then we recommend choosing bars that have nuts and dried fruit as these digest slower.
You could also go for the homemade option of sandwiches, let them choose their favourite filling and on route they’ll happily munch them up without a fuss! These are just a few little tips from experience that will make your day more enjoyable and less stressful.”
3. Have an entertainment bag
Rachel, Children of Wanderlust
“Having travelled extensively with 3 young children over the last year (full time travelling), my big tip would be an entertainment bag.
We always have a bag already packed with various sources of entertainment: sticker books, colouring and pens, portable games like dobble and sometimes iPads too. Lots of the things in our entertainment bag are activities that inspire wanderlust. We also have the iPad loaded with some great educational apps.
We find the entertainment bag is so useful when waiting for food at a restaurant, or if you fancy a drink somewhere. It’s good to know you’ve always got something ready for if you just want to sit and enjoy a beautiful view or be able to grab some valuable moments in peace.”
4. Plan the day carefully
Jacquie Hale, UKFamilyTravel.com
“What we have learned through trial and (a lot of) error is that travelling with kids isn’t much fun when they’re tired. At best, a tired child can mean aborting plans for a nice family day out or at worst, missing out on a bucket list sight.
We’ve found that the best way to avoid this is to plan our day so that we can squeeze in a quick nap. We do a lot of road trips with the kids and what works well for us is to have an energetic morning either in a national park on an amazing family-friendly beach, have lunch and then head off to the next destination. The kids are bound to fall asleep after their busy morning and will have a decent nap, especially if you have a good amount of travel time between destinations.
They will then wake up feeling re-energised and ready for the next part of the day. If you arrive and they’re still asleep, why not enjoy a few more moments of peace or have a nap yourself?!
Our kids dropped their naps at home when they were very young, but at aged 5 and 7, this technique still works for them when we’re out and about and means a much more pleasant day for the whole family.”
5. Don’t cram the day
Jenny from Peak District Kids
“We have travelled extensively with our kids ever since they were born; hiking in the Himalayas, exploring temples of India, traversing Southern Africa in a Land Rover, to our days out exploring closer to home in the Peak District.
Our boys are now 5 and 6 years old and the number one rule we adhere to is, don’t cram too much in to one day.
New places, people and cultures can be a sensory overload for little minds. Plus there’s always something new that grabs their attention, be it a pile of rocks to climb, a snack stand on a street corner, or just taking longer to walk. Everything always takes longer with kids, little ones especially, and any stresses from parenting often comes from rushing our kids along.
No one wants grouchy, stroppy, overtired kids… and parents. You know your own kids, don’t push them too far. Give yourself lots of time in your day, and trust me, everyone will be in a better mood. And if you find that you have time in your day for more, well that’s fantastic!
Treat it as a bonus.”
6. Regular toilet breaks
“To ensure a successful kid’s day out, you need to remember one thing: toilet breaks. And regular toilet breaks at that.
Even if the kids say they don’t need to go, especially young kids, make sure you factor in regular toilet breaks to ensure you don’t hear those dreaded words ‘I need to the toilet’ right at the back of a museum when the toilets are located at the entrance.
With young children, especially those that are newly trained, make a game out of these breaks. Whenever you enter somewhere, visit toilets at the entrance before your visit. Bring small treats or rewards to encourage newly trained kids to at least try. Even though our son always said no, 9 times out of 10 he went to the toilet when we took him. And it prevented many accidents and change of clothes.
During your visit or outing, make sure you are aware of where the toilets are, or if you are in a city, check the map and find food outlets or shopping centres near to where you are visiting so you can use their toilets if necessary. And always carry a change of clothes for younger kids, just in case!”
7. Buy tickets in advance
Nassie, Snippets of Paris
“If you have ever played the video game The Sims, you know that kids are a lot like the Sims. You can only keep them happy a certain amount of time before they freak out, start complaining, and need to go to the toilet.
So when planning a successful day out with kids, you need to eliminate all the boring bits. And that means the part where you have to wait in line for 30 minutes or more just to buy tickets.
One of the simplest ways to keep the children (and the adults) in a good mood, is purchasing the tickets in advance on the internet, and just flashing them at the guard as you walk into the activity of the day.
You get to maximise time spent at the activity, and minimise the crankiness factor.
In addition, there are often discounts and options available online that you may not be able to fully analyse with a teary 3-year-old who is tugging at your shirt and begging for a snack. So you may actually even save money by buying the tickets in advance.”
8. Don’t force them
Nikki, Best Things to do in York.
“There is nothing worse than planning a lovely day out and spending all that money if you have grumpy kids who really don’t want to be there. Now, I’m not saying you should cater to their every whim, but there is no point forcing them to do something they really don’t want to do as that way you will all be miserable!
Ask the kids what they would like to do. It might be that they are not keen on parts of the day out you have planned – maybe you have kids of different ages or tastes and one wants to go bowling while the other wants to ride rollercoasters. By asking them first you not only get their buy-in but them you can plan something for everyone so that everyone is happy.
You can also make it clear that you will only do the great thing they want to do if they don’t moan about the great thing their sister wants to do and vice versa!”
9. Less is more!
Ariana, World of Travels with Kids
“As a parent, you only want the best for your kids, and planning the perfect day out is no exception. You want it to be fun, fantastic and memorable for the kiddos. And, if you’re like me, I usually try to cram something educational in there too!
However, a few years ago I realised that I was going about it all wrong. With kids, the adage ‘less is more’ is very apt. Imagine being a kid, seeing your parents rush around to get out of the house for a ‘big day.’ Then they drive on busy streets to a museum or show, getting lost – and stressed out, then struggling for parking… It doesn’t look fun for the kids and it’s not.
Then… if the said carpark was far from the show… there is a long walk, the queues for the food are long and it is expensive, maybe their parents are arguing a little. None of that is fun.
In short, my tip for a successful day out is to not plan too much. I don’t set high expectations for myself, for them, or the day in general. I go with the flow … and listen to them. If they are tired, we stop and have a break. I focus on being with them (rather than doing an activity) and enjoy their wonder of the world, rather than trying to do too many things.”
10. Prepare the night before
Ana, from Parenthood4ever.com
“One of the most important tricks to having a successful day out with kids starts way before the actual day out, the night before to be exact. There are a few people who think about it when they start travelling with kids, but eventually, all comes down to practice.
There is nothing better than getting everything ready for the next day without your kids. And it will save you a thousand of unrecoverable nerve cells the next morning. Just look at it this way: what would you do before taking an exam or a job interview? Correct, preparation it is.
Here are some simple steps to consider:
1. Pack a bag with extra clothes, toiletries essentials and baby items depending on itinerary plans.
2. Get extra wet wipes, tissues, and toilet paper.
3. Prepare, pack, and place food and beverages in the fridge, so that in the morning you only move the bag to your backpack.
4. Make sure your gear is ready, e.g. child seat is installed for the car or bicycle, the picnic blanket is well-packed, cameras and other devices are fully charged.
5. Place your bags in a prominent place.
Preparation for your family holiday works like magic. Just imagine starting the day with a cup of coffee while your kids are having a quick breakfast before going out. Also, it is an absolute must to prepare everything in advance if you depart at dawn or are about to have a long-haul flight with your baby. There’s no chance you can think of what to pack at 4 am!”
11. Get a good sleep
“After taking countless day trips with kids all around the world, one of the best pieces of advice that I would give to other parents is to ensure your kids have a good night’s sleep the day before.
If you have a big day trip planned a good night’s rest the day before will sometimes make or break your day trip.
Kids need a good amount of sleep and rest for them to feel energised and less temperamental.
If you have a big day out planned, if possible, don’t have too much planned for the day before so kids can have an early bedtime with a routine. We usually have a slow day before which would include outdoor time with activities like swimming or bike riding to get the fresh air which tends to helps them sleep better.”
12. Changes of clothes for all weathers
Mandi, from EastAngliaFamilyFun
“Having seven children I always like to be prepared, so my biggest tip for any family day out is to ensure you have a change of clothes, especially with the rather unpredictable British weather.
During the winter months, we always have an extra set of hat scarf and gloves stored in the boot of the car, as you can never tell when the temperature will drop, especially if you are out on a dog walk in the middle of nowhere or you have been having too much fun building a snowman, but have got your gloves wet!
Likewise during the warmer weather, we have extra sun hats in there, so even if someone leaves the house without theirs, we have spares in the car and don’t have to turn round and go home to retrieve one. We also tend to take a full change of clothes for all of the children, so we don’t get caught out if they have an accident (when they were younger,) or get wet trousers when paddling in the sea!
We also ensure there is a fleece or jumper for everyone, even in the summer in the UK!
Everyone always takes a full change bag when they have a baby, so why not continue even when they’re older, it’s certainly saved some tears over the years, of being wet or cold, and no more trying to dry trousers on the car heater!”
13. Stick to your schedule
Vrushali, from Mumbaikar Mom
“Whenever you are considering planning a day out as a family, you must ensure that you do not make any changes to the sleep cycle of your younger kids and toddlers.
Waking up your kids before their usual wake up time is a sure way of starting the day on a wrong note. Your kids will be cranky even before you head out on your day out with them.
In fact, even while you’re out, your kids may feel sleepy, tired or just plain irritated resulting in mood swings and random hunger pangs.
Similarly, if you want to make sure you enjoy your day out with kids, do not plan to stay out beyond the bedtime of your kids. Plan to come back home at least half an hour before your kids’ bedtime so that they stay active and energetic during your time out.
Of course, planning as per your kids’ sleep cycles will leave you with less time for your outing. You may even have to cut down on some activities. However, it will ensure that both you and your kids stay in a greqt mood throughout the day and you all end up making the most of your family outing.
14. Bring hand sanitiser
By Clara, Petite Capsule
“Hand sanitiser is one of the key items you need to have a successful day out with kids, regardless if you are travelling with a baby and toddler, or older children.
As soon as babies start crawling, hand sanitiser is a must. Kids are active, love exploring, and are keen to touch everything. They will touch dirt, climb trees, play in the park, touch bins, touch bubblers, sit on the ground, crawl under tables and chairs, press buttons, slide their hands along rails, roll on grass, hide in odd spots, touch their shoes. The list is endless.
They get dirty from touching anything they can get their hands on.
Your kids will then want to lick their fingers, suck on their thumb, put their hands in their mouth, pick up food. If possible, you will wash their hands with water and soap before they do any of this. But if you are out and about, water and soap are not always readily available.
Hand sanitiser will come to the rescue to kill viruses and germs, so your family and kids stay well.”
15. Let kids bring their own backpacks
Diana, from TravelsinPoland.com
“Taking kids out for the day can be great fun, but it can also result in a lot of issues if you aren’t well prepared.
Being prepared is one of the keys in making a day out successful. There are so many things you can do to make it so, and one great way is to let the kids pack their own little backpacks.
Once children become more used to carrying their own items, even if it is something small when they are young, they are more willing to do so as they get older and you begin to do more long term activities such as hiking.
At that point, kids have become accustomed to carrying their own weight such as water bottles, flashlights, or small toys or drawing pads and markers that can keep them occupied. The kids backpacks should never be heavy but only carry enough of what they need such as snacks, drinks, a hat and some toys or other necessary items.”
Your children’s day out
I hope these children’s day out tips have inspired you to take your own kids out, and actually enjoy the day as well.
To sum all these kids day out tips up in a nutshell, you just need to be prepared for all eventualities. And I guess that’s where people who have a car are lucky. Keep that boot stacked with clothes, food, hand sanitiser, towels and blankets and you’ll be fine!