A weekend well spent!
Five things to do as a family this month
The early months of the year provide fantastic opportunities for adventure and family fun, even if it can initially feel tough to get motivated.
The cold weather means many families choose to stay indoors and that creates the chance for you to visit attractions when numbers are low and queues more manageable.
If your finances are still tight, with Christmas still not so long ago, there are loads of budget friendly and free things on offer.
Discover somewhere new and exciting for a winter walk
We all know how much kids tend to love a nice long walk – or not! But even reluctant walkers with little legs can be inspired to go that little bit further if it is all a game.
Dozens of Forestry England locations around the country have giant sculptures of the Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson’s beloved book character, hidden amongst the trees. You can find the nearest one to you on the Forestry England website as well as free activity sheets to download and use at those or other locations.
Finding an amazing new park will also delight the kids. Stanwick Lakes, in Northamptonshire, has a vast adventure play area that is jam packed in summer months. Take a bucket and spade!
Castle Park in Colchester is relatively compact but stunning and there is loads of play equipment – as well as an actual castle.
The National Trust’s Belton House, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, does have an entrance fee, unlike our other suggestions where you’ll only pay for parking, but the adventure playground is one of the best you’re ever likely to see.
The key to a great day in the outdoors will, of course, be in ensuring you’re all properly wrapped up and, where kids might get muddy or wet, ensuring they’re in all-in-ones, raincoats and wellies. Kids outerwear specialist Muddy Puddles is a great place to look to get your little ones ready for their adventures.
Find a great museum – and it doesn’t just have to be a London one
We all know about the delights of London’s Science Museum and Natural History Museum, and everyone can agree how amazing they are for children, full of awesome sights and interactive displays. Of course, they’re absolutely worth a visit or a revisit and you won’t run out of things to see and do even if you’ve been before. Visiting in the winter months will allow you to relax and explore to your heart’s content without the worry of missing out on a bit of sun outside.
But do also seek out some of the other museums on offer both in London and beyond. There is endless fun for families at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and there are museums up and down the country that’ll surprise you with their quality and child-friendly attractions. Do a bit of research and find out what’s nearby to you. Many offer free or very low cost family activity sessions as do local libraries.
Have a play day at home
How many times have you said ‘the kids never play with all their toys’ or heard another parent saying it? But, are you creating opportunities for them to do it?
We’re all so busy running around between clubs, school, work, family gatherings and days out, we often don’t make time to just enjoy being at home together.
With a house full of new games and toys from Christmas, how about scheduling a weekend to just snuggle up at home and play with them? That means pushing the washing, cleaning and chores to one side and actually setting aside the time to all be together and just play.
As well as using all the new or long-untouched toys and games in the house, delight the kids with some messy or active fun. Make potions with items out of the kitchen cupboard, let the kids linger over a long bath in the middle of the day or make an obstacle course with sheets, sofa cushions and your dining room chairs.
Otherwise make an event of just snuggling down in your onesies and watching a film together. If you can’t do it in winter when can you do it?
Find an opportunity to volunteer as a family
What better way to help the kids see beyond all the material commercialism of the not-so-long-passed festive season, by actively doing something entirely focused on helping someone else?
Volunteering opens new opportunities to learn and experience the wider world and there are dozens of things you can do as a family.
Contact your local Community and Voluntary Service to find out what organisations locally are seeking help and how you could get involved or search on the national volunteering website Do It.
Otherwise, consider contacting a local home for the elderly and see if there’s a lonely person you can visit. If you caught any episodes of Old People’s Home for 4 year olds you’ll know the impact a visit from children could have.
Seek out an indoor attraction with a difference
Anyone with young children is likely to turn to the local indoor soft play area in times of rain and cold, but how about seeking out somewhere new?
Just visiting a similar centre a little further afield will freshen things up for you and the children.
Otherwise consider an indoor activity with a bit of a difference. KidZania, in London, is an indoor city run by kids where they get to try out jobs and earn ‘wages.’ Cornwall’s Eden Project has an indoor ice rink until February 24 or consider laser shooting, bowling, swimming or even rock climbing at your local venue.
Don’t write off traditional more ‘outdoor’ theme parks either – places like Twin Lakes, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire and its partner parks in Devon and Nottingham are open all year round. Twin Lakes’ sites have great indoor play centres as well as all the outdoor fun and you’re likely to find shorter queues. And, if you don’t make it to Twin Lakes in the winter months, book your tickets for Easter as the Easter grotto is a real treat.