With two boys aged nine and ten unplugging can be an issue sometimes. Not the time spent unplugged but the high tech tantrums when I tell them that it is time to turn off! We call it reluctance to transition in The Mad House. We recently had an unplugged weekend at Sherwood Pines (Nottinghamshire) with Forest Holidays and it was a huge success.
During 0ur recent weekend at Blackpool we stayed at Ribby Hall Holiday Village which is ten minutes outside of Blackpool and is amazing. For us it was much better than staying on a B&B or a hotel as we had the freedom to come and go as we likes, plus coupled with fab onsite activities and leisure pool it has something to suit every family. Accommodation
We are fans of spending family time together and have come to love holidays where we can take all the family including Alvin the dog. At Half term we went to Sand le Mere on the Yorkshire coast, 2 hours away from our home on the Yorkshire coast (Hey Yorkshire is big and we live in North Yorkshire and Sand le Mere is in East Yorkshire). Now I am going to preface this post with the fact that it was WET, very wet, it rained every day bar one when we were there and then Mini got tonsillitis, but inspite of all that we had a lovely time and I can more »
We are five days in to our once in a lifetime holiday in Florida and I wanted to share my initial observations and thoughts with you. Firstly the flight was fine with the boys. We stayed overnight in Manchester the night before, so we didn’t have to worry about travel hold ups. This meant that the we started the holiday without stress and worry and on the right foot. The one thing that you do need in Florida is comfortable shoes. Even if you are on your feet all day in the UK, it is very different being on your feet and all the walking you will do in the more »
I know I might be repeating myself a little here, but we are off on the holiday of a lifetime to Florida with my brother and his family in November and I am so excited. My boys will be 7 and 8 at the time we travel and I know we are going to have an absolutely fantastic time.
MadDad and I have been on plenty of all inclusive holidays BC (before children), we enjoyed some fantastic experiences and the thought of icecream on tap really appeals to my children! I was discussing this with a friend today and we said that if we could guarantee the summer weather we have had here in the UK we would never go abroad again, but are scared that this year will be a one off.
Now both my boys are competent swimmers they look for a holiday with a pool more than anything else and they also want sports activities.
I want to be able to sit and actually read more than the first page of my book on repeat and that keeping the children happy makes me happy.
As you know we are currently on holiday enjoying all the unusually wonderful English weather and all that Butlins has to offer. So it is perfect timing to do a holiday clothes for boys update. One of the things I hate is for my boys to look like the rest of the children on the holiday park, si I tend to shop around for their clothes. I am not a fan of slogans or sludgy colours. With one children that is just “noise with muck on” things need to be versatile and washable. K and Co Online have a fab range of boy’s clothes. They are great quality and are not worn by everyone, which means my more »
Win an iPad, Wii U, iPad Mini or iPod Touch with Butlins
Butlins are call for all bloggers to tell them about a special childhood holiday memory that still makes you smile and you could be in with the chance of winning one of these 4 prizes: An iPad, WiiU, iPad Mini or iPod Touch.
Once you have thought about which childhood holiday was most memorable to you, all you need to do is write and post on your blog a short description and conclude the entry with the end line “Competition sponsored by Butlins Holiday Parks, helping your family make memories.” Then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with link to your blog entry to let them know!
How to enter
This holiday has been booked since just after my Mum died and we have been looking forward to the trip for a long time. My Brother and family are self employed and that is why we are travelling at this particular time of the year and I am aware that it could have an impact on my seven and eight year olds school work, but…………
For the last two weeks they have not really done any significant learning at school, in fact for this week they have watched more DVD’s at school that they have at home in about a year. I am not going to justify me taking them out of school by saying they will learn as much with me as at school, however, I will say that it should be my choice as a parent to make this decision.
We are sensible enough to make our own decision and I am disappointed that this is being taken away from me. There has been a lot of noise made about the Lunch box issues this week, but no one has shouted about the fact that the law has changed and that from September Headteacher will not be able to grant time off for holidays.
Currently headteachers are allowed to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a family holiday during term time in “special circumstances” of up to ten school days leave per year. Headteachers can also grant extended leave for more than ten school days in exceptional circumstances. However, Amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days come into force in September.
Not only are the government taking this out of our hands, but also out of the hands of the school. Yet another example of the government invading my home and my choices.
I wonder if this applies to private schools too? or maybe that would be a bit like a bear pooing in its own backyard.
Las Vegas is a place that we usually associate with gambling and casinos, but there is far more to the place than that. Casinos are very important but you can also enjoy a family holiday there which doesn’t involve Mum staying with the kids while dad plays slots in Caesars Palace. Here are a few things for families to do.
Hire a car and take a trip to Death Valley. In many ways it is one of the most exciting places on the planet and the kids will just love it. Just driving across the Mojave Desert is a thrill of a lifetime, and visiting the valley is an unforgettable experience. Badwater Basin is 86 meters below sea level and Furnace Creek has the record for being the hottest place on earth. You will see some amazing sites and make sure that you visit Zabriskie Point and view the Badland Formations; truly amazing.
Keep that car and take another trip, this time to the Grand Canyon. This is one of the world’s natural wonders and another very remarkable and unforgettable destination. The canyon is 277 miles long and up to a mile deep and 18 miles wide. This beautiful and unique place is home to many Native Americans whose tribes have lived there for thousands of years. You can take an aeroplane or helicopter trip into the depths of the canyon too for some unparalleled views.
Another fascinating place to visit is the Hoover dam, but the kids might appreciate its reservoir Lake Mead a little more. Boating on Lake Mead is very popular ad are swimming, water skiing and fishing. The lake is huge, up to 112 miles long, and there are numerous beaches, marinas and resorts.
Just because we are having a free range summer, it doesn’t mean that we can not plan some activities and ideas for things that we want to do as a family. I was inspired by Frugal Family’s post on how they plan their summer holidays to share how we plan ours.
So this morning we all sat at breakfast and decided on things that we wanted to read, do, make and places we wanted to go. I sat and wrote them all out on Post-it Super Sticky Notes from 3M . The boys would have had we had more time and will any additional ones!
We used a different colour for each of the activities and then used some lovely heart ones for major things and day trips we are planning.
Our list this year is wonderful and wide ranging and includes:
Visiting lots of different parks – We tend to take a picnic with us.
Visiting local museums and art galleries – I tend to tie this into times when they have free activity sessions on. Your local council is a great source of information on this.
Woodland centres and forests. The Forestry Commision has an enchanted wood at Dalby Forest with a magical adventure play area with a fort, storytelling seats and carved insects hiding in the trees. They also have some great free fairytale activity sheets and ideas too. The woodland trust also has a great Nature Detective website with over 150 ideas for free things to do.
Visit the cinema and bowling alley. We always make sure we look out for great deals and this summer Cineworld have some great family deals, which I featured on A Thrifty Mum.
Outdoor play – including cricket, football, rounders, minibeast hunting, camping out in the garden, playing with friends, cycling, scootering and having their own olympic games.
Making and baking – I always encourage the boys to be as creative as possible and this summer they are going to make their own cakes, pizza, biscuits and picnics. They also want to make a windchime, birdfeeders and dream catchers. I think that it is always fun to collect items from your trips to places and use them in your crafting, such as shells and pebbles from the beach, which can make rock monsters and memory stones.
Thank you to Post-it Super Sticky Note for provided me with lots of Post-it Super Sticky Notes to write our activities on. Did you know that they are so sticky that they are going to cover a London Taxi in them and drive it around London to prove it. You can get your name on a Post-it Super Sticky Note, that will then be stuck on the Taxi by visiting their Facebook Page www.facebook.com/PostitUK. My name will be on the Taxi! Six people will be invited to remove a note off the taxi and if your name is on it then you would be a winner.
Cruises: The Perfect Family Holiday?
Cruises are becoming more and more popular for family holidays as many providers have begun to cater for younger couples with children. It is wise to check out the range of cruise deals available for families from some of the well-known cruise lines. Some operators may run from Italy, for example, but children travel free, so costs are cut substantially. Discounted rates usually apply for kids from a large number of liners anyway, just like they would from accommodation providers on the mainland and seats on aeroplanes.
A major benefit of cruises is that there will be few added costs once the upfront reservations have been made. Entertainment, meals and snacks are generally included in the price. Any tours and excursions plus alcohol consumed on the ship will, however, cost extra, so you should bear this in mind if you have a larger group. Cruise liners are like floating holiday villages, and there are sure to be restaurants or buffet bars on board to suit the most picky child eaters. If mealtimes are problematic, it’s possible to allow them to choose their own eating venues, while adult members of the party enjoy the refinements of dressing for dinner and dining in fine restaurants on board the ship.
Many cruise deals offered during school holidays include full daily entertainment for kids in clubs, with regular sports or arts and crafts activities. It is wise to check out the programme of activities available with each particular cruise company and choose an operator that is best suited to the interests of your own kids. From water slide areas where the children can make new friends to tours of the ship and video game lounges, they are sure to have a blast.
Cruises can be a great choice of holiday for the extended family as well – while the kids are allowed to roam around the ship and take part in the activities on offer, parents and grandparents can take time out to relax around adults only pools, in the spa or in any of the comfortable bars or coffee lounges on board the cruise liner. The older generation will appreciate the sheer luxury available on the liner and will also be able to take the time to pursue activities at their own speed rather than rushing around after the grandkids. This is a fantastic way of having a family holiday without spending all of your time together!
When the ship is in port, each member of your party will be able to participate in exciting explorations of cities, seaside villages and wonderful beaches in whichever part of the world the cruise liner docks. So perhaps cruises really do offer the perfect family holiday, although the best way to get the most out of your holiday, as with any trip, is to do some research. Not all cruises accept families, while some specifically cater for multi-generational parties, and some are very child focused (eg. Disney cruises). Shop around a bit to find the option best suited to your own particular tastes.
Family Holidays in Alcudia
Going away with the kids can be a challenging ordeal sometimes. It’s hard to make a holiday work for everyone – the youngsters want to be active all the time, while we adults might want to share a romantic moment or two. Picking where to go can be half the battle, but I think if you pick the right spot with a good mix of family fun, you’re going to have a really great time.
A bit of a tourist hotspot in northern Majorca, Alcudia holidays this summer are definitely something to think about if you’re travelling with children. For one thing the landscape is gorgeous, with a perfect blend of beaches and stunning mountain ranges. This means that there are loads of different outdoor activities to do while you’re there. Alcanada beach is great for younger children as the water isn’t too deep – you can actually walk or swim out to Alcanada Island from here as the water is only 1.5 metres deep! This is a great adventure for the kids; you can pretend to be pirates or explorers heading out to find hidden treasure.
Another great spot that we enjoyed was the Hidropark, a waterpark just outside Alcudia. The prices are extremely reasonable and you can definitely while away at least one day here – our boys were desperate to go back almost as soon as we left! There are lots of different things to do besides the slides and pools, including mini golf, bouncy castles and floating boats. There’s also paintball on offer, but obviously that might not be suitable for the kids, depending on their ages.
There’s also the chance to take a boat trip around the coast, which is a nice way to relax if you’ve had a hectic week. You can take a glass-bottomed catamaran around the bay and see the fascinating underwater world right beneath your feet. If you think you might be interested, I’d suggest booking ahead – there’s nothing worse than waiting in a queue when you’ve got your little monsters champing at the bit to get on board!
Image by Duncan Rawlinson used under creative commons licence
Adventures for children in Magaluf
Magaluf, on the Spanish island of Majorca, is a holiday resort that is as much a destination for children and families as it is for the young adult crowd looking to party. From mainland Europe, flights to Magaluf really don’t cost a fortune, and in addition to the endless sunshine and family-friendly beaches, there are lots of activities for children to keep them entertained.
Let the kids run free at the Western Water Park and they’ll spend all day darting between the slides and attractions. With an Old West theme, there are rides like The Beast for thrill seeking youths who want a slide with a 30-metre drop or the family attraction Mega Slide, where riders raft down a 260-metre slide as a group. There’s also a diving show where kids can enjoy watching professional divers do tricks and flips in the air.
Looking to venture outside Magaluf? Then you might be interested in taking the Palma-to-Soller train, which is a day trip by way of vintage railroad through beautiful countryside to Soller. There aren’t many vintage trains still in operation and it’s a treat for children and adults to travel this way and feel like you’re journeying into the past.
If your children are interested in nature and want a break from the sunshine, there is an amazing cave near Porto Cristo called the Caves of Drach. The name translates to Cavern of the Dragon, which is sure to peak the kids’ interest and imaginations. Within the cave is a hidden lake considered to be one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. Take a cave tour, which lasts about an hour and includes a classical concert on the lake, and enjoy the cool ambiance as the music bounces around this ‘cavernous’ space! There’s also a light show that imitates the sunrise and the chance to take a boat ride across the lake. A day at the cave is truly a magical adventure for children.
With such a variety of outdoor and inexpensive activities to choose from, parents can’t go wrong by booking a holiday Magaluf this summer and making some awesome memories to bring back home.
We also pack family board games, card and domino’s. We try to limit screen time whilst we are on holiday and we love family games night. The boys will write league tables and keep a record of who wins what so that we can have a family winner at the end of the holiday. We introduced the boys to Scrabble and Boggle whist we were on holiday. It is so much fun to revisit games that you used to play as a child.
Provide your children with an adventure pack with binoculars, compass and handbooks so they can explore the area you are holidaying.
I also pack pencils and colouring pads for creative moments.
Let your child chose a number of new books before you go on holiday. We have quiet time after dinner and reading is a great way to ensure that children do got get board.
Allow a day or so for decompression, especially if your childrens days are packed with activities at home. Places such as Richardson’s Holiday Parks have onsite entertainment. Click here for more information.
Headphone are essential – my children never agree on music, so I make sure they take headphones with them so they can play their own music in the car.
See if you can take a pup tent, so they can have their own adventures.
Encourage them to make friends. Take a ball and a kite. Things like this usually attract all the children nearby and veola friends for the holiday.
Be unselfish with your time. Children crave the company of their parents. Holidays are the perfect time to give it to them freely. Why not join in with them rolling down hills. You might be surprised d at just how much fun it can me.
I would love to know how you react when you hear “I’m bored”!
Three Special Family Holidays
Your children are only going to be young once, so you should treat them to a magical holiday before they consider themselves too old for family breaks. Create memories to treasure for decades to come, and fill up at least some of the weeks when they are out of school and clamouring for activities to keep them occupied. From a trip to Lapland before Christmas to a Hawaiian paradise during the summer months, here are three destinations that are sure to give you some inspiration for 2013.
Hula Your Worries Away in Hawaii
For a completely different pace of life and beautiful scenery, check out Hawaii this summer. With pleasant tropical temperatures all year round, families can pack light and enjoy T-shirt and beach weather. There are plenty of family-oriented tour packages and resorts in Hawaii that have child-friendly activities. Make sure that you choose a resort that includes a bit of luxury and chill-out time for parents, as well as plenty of amusements for the kids. Camp Menehune at the Hilton Waikoloa Village includes fun activities such as exploring tide-pools and tropical gardens, water sports, interactive dolphin programmes and feeding local wildlife.
Go Totally Wild in Orlando Florida
Another option is the Animal Kingdom Lodge, a part of DisneyWorld in Florida. Little animal enthusiasts can experience the wilds of Africa, within the safe and comfortable environment of a Disney resort. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a 33 acre property that offers views from all of the rooms onto the Serengeti style zoo outside. There are over 200 animals from 100 different species, such as antelopes and gazelles. Each room is tastefully decorated in African style décor and the resort’s restaurants, Jiko and Boma, cook African-style food in wood-burning ovens.
A Lapland Trip into the Arctic Wilderness
Later on in the year, Finnish Lapland is the traditional hangout of Santa, his wife, the elves, plus of course his reindeer. Make sure that you go there kitted out in thermals and ski gear. Bracing cold isn’t the right way to describe the place, below freezing is more appropriate.
As a wonderful consolation, there’s a flurry of Christmas activity in Lapland. Mulled wine and Finnish saunas are brilliant for the adults while husky-led forays into the icy wilderness keep the kids occupied. The occasional appearance of the hypnotic and truly remarkable Northern Lights is nature’s way of lighting up the sky. During the winter time the sun barely peaks over the horizon.
There are plenty of tour operators that offer families some face time with the jolly red man, comfortable digs and amazing food to stave off the Arctic cold. For the traditional Christmas memory that will go down in family history, a Lapland trip is the ultimate in Christmas merriment and magic.
A well-planned, fun and relaxing family holiday is very feasible when you know where to go! Find a good mix of kid-friendly activities, and the chance for parents to get some well-deserved R&R.
We are really focussing on trying to encourage our boys to move away from the electronic and take up more tactile pursuits! I gave you some ideas for encouraging writing earlier in the week, but I wanted to concentrate on recording holiday memories this time. When I was younger one of the most exciting aspects of any family holiday was receiving the developed film back from the chemist and putting together an album of the photographs and writing the name of the holiday in the inside page.
In todays digital world I find that my images stay on my PC, phone and on the digital photo frame we have and that made me sad, so I decided to encourage Maxi to make a scrapbook of our recent Orlando visit. This was made even easier as we were gifted a whole host of scrapbooking things in a travel theme from
Whilst we were in Orlando Maxi made sure that he took maps, leaflets and keep all his tickets in to the theme parks, so in addition to any pictures I printed out he could also keep all this memorabilia and have a wonderful physical memory of our holiday.
Firstly we sat at the PC and decided which images to print. In future I think that I would send them off to an online provider to print, that way we could have a better quality print.
Then we cut all the photographs out using the guillotine and then I let Maxi lose with the glue and a pen!
As much as I wanted everything to be neat and in a certain way, I knew that it was best that I just stayed on the sideline and let him fill the scrapbook in how he wanted it to be. Afterall this is his holiday memories we are recording.
Is it Safe for Your Kids to Take a Gap Year?
By Andrew Tipp
It’s not difficult to find news stories of horrible things happening to young people on their gap years.
Whether it’s a bus crash, a robbery or even a murder, the mid-market tabloids splash multi-page spreads full of emotive and frightening reports when something bad happens to a young Brit abroad.
It’s usually an attractive white 19-year-old middle class girl that’s been attacked in India, or a group of friendly 18-year-old boys that have died in a road accident in Thailand.
The message is usually implicit from the reporting: this could happen to your child. Imagine this happening to your child.
Imagining the worst
It’s a horrible thing for a parent to think about, and instinctively it makes some parents think of ripping up their child’s plane tickets, cancelling their volunteering placement and refusing to let them head off on their gap year.
It’s an understandable reaction. Natural, even. Why let your child go off travelling somewhere dangerous when they could be safe and sound at home?
But let’s think about this for a bit. Just how dangerous is a gap year? How many of these reports are down to bad luck? Or even foolishness?
The truth is that gap years are relatively safe, worthwhile and fun. The chances of anything bad happening to your child on their dream backpacking trip or volunteering placement is incredibly small.
Putting it into perspective
Every year an estimated 200,000 British young people take a gap year of some kind. Of that number some will run into problems. It’s inevitable. But most of the problems are things that could happen anywhere.
It’s definitely not worth you or your child being put off the adventure of a lifetime because of some sensational news reports that highlight the few occasions when something bad happens on a gap year.
The right approach for your son or daughter is to seize the chance at a travel experience, take precautions, use common sense and establish an understanding of how you will stay in touch so they can let you know they’re safe and sound.
There are certain things your child can do before their trip to reduce and manage the risk of anything negative happening to them.
There should be plenty of research before the trip. Make sure your child knows where they’re going, who (if anyone) will be meeting them at airports and bus stations, how to get between places, what hostels they will be sleeping in and who will be their contact locally (if they’re doing a volunteering placement).
Make sure your son or daughter knows some of the local language for where they’re going – especially how to ask for help in different situations. They should know who to contact if they get into trouble, and how to get in touch with the regional UK embassy.
While planning and before travelling, your family should consult the travel advice from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Oh, and make sure your child buys adequate travel insurance – there are plenty of perfectly avoidable horror stories every year involving parents paying thousands so their child could be flown home after breaking a leg trekking in the wilderness without insurance.
The easiest way for your child to avoid crime and danger abroad is simply by not making themselves an easy target.
Tourists wearing expensive clothes and dangling pricey cameras around their necks are calling out for someone to rob them; these things are like a sign that flashes in neon lights: “I have money, come and take it if you can.”
This isn’t too much of an issue for independent gap year travellers, as most of them genuinely have little money – either in the bank or on them. Even so, it would be a good idea for your child to segment their money – storing some of it in wallets/purses, some in bags, socks, hostel safes, etc.
Behaviour can make gappers as much of a target. What you do is as important as what you wear. Be sure your child knows not look too much like an innocent, naive and vulnerable fish out of water. Being able to ask for directions confidently and not looking lost with a huge map is helpful.
Locks for backpacks is an option to stay safe, but obviously it’s a good idea not to take anything that’s worth stealing in the first place. In terms of personal safety, rape alarms and ‘defence’ spray cans are good purchases – although be careful with the latter as in some places this is considered a weapon.
Control and intuition
Although drinking and having fun is part of the gap year experience, staying in control is important. Getting really drunk makes young people abroad vulnerable, so be sure to make them agree to staying with groups and friends if they’re heading out drinking.
Just as you wouldn’t wander into the wrong area of Manchester or Birmingham, it’s crucial your child avoids the dangerous areas of any city, but especially high-crime urban sprawls like Johannesburg or Bogata.
Likewise, it’s obviously no safer for your son or daughter to go home alone with any strangers on an evening of romance.
Staying in contact
Maintaining communication between parent and child is important during a gap year. It’s easy for parents to worry if their son or daughter drops out of contact.
It might be a good idea to agree on a rough contact schedule. Nothing too rigid, but maybe a clear but informal understanding that they will try and check in weekly or fortnightly by email, and let you know if they’re going on a trip to, say, a rainforest and will be out of contact for a while. You might also want them to let you know what hostels they’re staying in.
If your child plans to be very active online during their gap year, this could be an issue; if they blog and tweet and facebook every other day you might also worry if they suddenly stop. It might be a good idea to agree that they let you know if they’re going to cease updating their digital profiles for a while.
Ultimately, there’s no way of guaranteeing safety abroad. There’s no way of eliminating risk completely. Bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time can happen to anyone, anywhere.
But if you have frank and thorough discussions about taking precautions, using common sense and staying in touch there should be nothing to worry about.
Read more about gap year foreign travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/gap-year-foreign-travel-advice
Learn more about volunteering abroad placements: http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/
Visit a gap year advice and community site: http://www.gapyear.com/
About the author
Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger and editor. He’s spent more than a year backpacking and volunteering abroad, and used to work as a site editor for travel advice and community website gapyear.com.
If the slight change in temperature has got you hopeful for the summer you’re not alone. We’re feeling pretty excited about it too and in fact have started to think about holidays as a result. We’ve been dreaming about the type of summer holidays that we remember from childhood, where the days seem to stretch on forever, the beach is always in sight and you get to taste every flavour of ice-cream over the course of a week, going home with salt in your hair and a big grin on your face.
If you yearn after these type of holidays as well, and particularly if you want to recreate this kind of unforgettable summer fun for your kids, we’ve prepared a post for you about summer holidays in Cornwall.
When it comes to taking time out Cornwall really does offer the goods, plus, a holiday in Cornwall really doesn’t have to cost the earth. And in fact once you’ve booked and paid for your place to stay (some luxury accommodation providers also offer baby friendly holiday packages!), once you’ve arrived there are many cheap and even free things to do there. So if all of this talk of summer has made you want to dig out the swimsuits, buckets and spades read on. Here’s our guide to the best summer holiday hangouts in Cornwall…
Eat Roskillys Ice-Cream at Padstow Harbour
Nothing says summer holidays like a big, crisp ice-cream cone full to the brim with several generous scoops of creamy Cornish ice-cream. For the very best we recommend heading to Roskilly’s ice-cream shop which overlooks the picturesque Padstow harbour. They have more flavours than you’ll be able to choose between and each one is just as delicious as the next.
Spend the day at Polzeath Beach
This is one of our very favourite beaches in Cornwall, as it’s a lovely sandy beach which stretches out to meet the stunning Atlantic ocean. Polzeath beach is really close to the town too and as such means that a whole range of lovely cafes and restaurants are available to you come mealtimes – this makes it ideal if you have something other than sandy sandwiches in mind for lunch! The beach often gets good surfing waves too is is a fabulous place to have a go at this, plus it has the best sandcastle-building sand we’ve found! Heaven.