Nothing beats a day in the great outdoors with your kids, so put down your iPhone, turn off your TV and get out outside. To help you get started here are my 5 favourite family adventures.
I got an email recently from someone working for a company called Dickies asking if I’d like to help promote a spring campaign called ‘Adventure days out with the kids’. Needless to say it sounded right up my street!
We’ve been lucky enough to have some weird and wonderful days in the great outdoors as a family during the 22 months since our little boy Sonny was born (where the hell did that time go?). Picking out five favourites wasn’t easy – but here they are.
If you’re planning to take young kids out in a canoe then first of all you need to know what you’re doing. I’ve owned an inflatable kayak for the past 10 years and am reasonably handy with a paddle, but I was still nervous when we took Sonny on his first canoe trip last summer. I bought him a great little life jacket, plastered him in sun cream and stuck a hat on his baldy little head to stop him getting burnt, then picked a very shallow, quiet and slow-moving section of river where we could splash about close to the edge. The whole boat trip probably lasted no longer than 15 minutes, but it was a great experience as a family.
This is such an awesome activity to do with your kids. Sonny’s still not quite old enough to ride his balance bike without assistance, but he loves riding along in his bike seat that attaches to the back of my bike. We took Sonny for his first ride shortly before his first birthday and although he’s fallen asleep in his bike seat plenty of times, he always looks like he’s having a great time. It’s become even more fun since he’s started to talk, because even though I can’t see him we chat to each other about everything from the colour of passing cars to the number of aeroplanes he can count while we’re riding. Our longest ride yet is just over 10 miles!
Hiking and walking is what we do together most as a family, purely because going out for a family walk is so easy to do. You can do it straight from your front door, you don’t need much gear, you can walk or hike in any weather, there are endless places to explore, and you don’t need to go for epic long walks to have a great time. We’ve walked and hiked on beaches, through woodlands, in country parks and even bagged our very first peak together when Sonny was just a few weeks old. Even now Sonny’s happy to hop into his kiddy carrier, let me sling him on my back and head out with the dog for an hour-long stroll along the river. I absolutely love it.
How cool is eating a meal outdoors? And how cool is it doing it with your kids? All you need for a good family picnic is some decent weather, a space you can spread out, some crisps, a packet of biscuits, a few pork pies, a sandwich or two, and a flask of coffee. Oh wait – you also need nappies, and poo bags, and baby wipes, and bibs, and soft drinks, and loads more food to replace the stuff your kid will decide they don’t want to eat, and straws, and lots and lots of patience. It’s still great though. My favourite family picnic so far was scoffing our own food in the boot of my estate car in a National Trust car park because we were too tight to pay the prices in their cafe!
5. Train spotting
My son’s obsessed with trains. He likes real trains, toy trains, cartoon trains, drawings of trains, and especially trains with any kind of link to Thomas the Tank Engine. So when we heard Thomas was making a guest appearance at our local Nene Valley Railway (which proudly describes itself as ‘The home of Thomas’) we knew we had no choice but to head up there. And what a great day we had. For just a few quid we got to ride the Thomas replica train, meet the drivers, have a poke around the engine room and check out the coal fire that powers it, then head back into the old-fashioned station cafe for sausage rolls and proper mugs of coffee. Thomas is back at the Nene Valley Railway for his Big Adventure in May 2018 – and we’re planning to be there!
Disclosure: This post was produced in association with Dickies Workwear. I’m now officially a #DickiesDad