Spending quality time with grandchildren need not be an expensive undertaking. Creative grandparents can offer their grandkids plenty of fun days without breaking the bank.
More than anything need to know that their grandparents love them and enjoy their time together — they do not necessarily need to be dazzled with expensive gifts and extravagant outings.
Children have a natural love and appreciation of animals, and most kids are happy to spend a day observing (and sometimes interacting with!) members of the animal kingdom.
A day out with a nature and animal theme is sure to be a grandchild pleaser! A few zoos and animal parks to consider:
Mole Hill Wildlife Park, Essex: See the Butterfly Pavilion, feed some hungry deer, or make your way through the Maize Maze (wheelchair friendly!). 01799 540400
Newquay Zoo, Cornwall: Award winning zoo with something to offer every member of the family! 01637 873342
Monkey World, Dorset: Enjoy the outdoor play area, woodland walk, and be face-to-face with primates in the lemur forest! 0871 716 2137
National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth: Education, conservation and research — and a whole lot of fun! 01752 220084
Felinwynt Rain Forest Centre, West Wales: Waterfalls, ponds, streams; a wonderful rainforest atmosphere. Enjoy the many butterflies (most active on sunny days). 01239 810250
Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol: Over 400 species await your arrival — and most exhibits are covered, so they are all-weather friendly! 0117 974 7399
Making the Most of The National Trust
People often neglect to visit the treasures that are right near home, instead spending more time and money traveling to faraway places. The National Trust provides access to countless fun adventures, from woods to beaches, as well as over 300 historic houses and gardens, and 49 mills and monuments.
Free maps of historic places are available at The National Trust , or their Membership Department can be reached by phone at 0870 458 4000.
Some of their more popular attractions include:
Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire: Play a game of bowls on the restored 18th-century bowling green! 01527 821214
Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire: Visit the mini-Museum of Childhood in the basement. 01283 585337
Ham House, on the banks of the River Thames: They say it’s haunted! 020 8940 1950
Cotehele, Cornwall: Again, you just may spot a ghost! 01579 351346
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent: Lakeside and woodland walks all year long! 01580 710700
Carrick-a-Rede, Northern Ireland: Fabulous rope bridge and Children’s Discovery Trail. 028 2076 9839
Kid Friendly Museums
While many children are not fond of walking carefully and quietly through traditional museums, many of today’s exhibits are geared toward active, curious kids. The following museums offer kids the opportunity to learn a little and have a load of fun!
Livesey Museum for Children, London: Free and hands-on fun for kids up to 12 years old and their families! 020 7635 5829
The Science Museum, London: IMAX 3D films, interactive exhibits, science shows and daily drama performances! 0870 870 4868
Big Pit/National Coal Museum, Wales: Guided underground tours, multi-media presentations, wheelchair availability, and free admission! 01495 790 311
National Slate Museum, Llanberis: Working waterwheel, slate splitting demonstrations, workshop tours, and a cafe with mountain views! 01286 870 630
Natural History Museum (Kids Only), London: From bacteria to dinosaurs, it’s family-friendly and free! 020 7942 5000
National Wool Museum, Wales: Families can follow the specially designed trail, “A Wooly Tale,” and try carding, spinning, and sewing. Open year round, free admission. 01559 370929
The Most Important Factor is…Fun!
When spending the day with grandchildren, the most important thing to remember is to have fun.
Kids can tire easily and they get grouchy when they are hungry, so its important to schedule regular breaks and pack plenty of snacks for the day.
If at all possible, allow the children to take part in planning the day as they will certainly be more agreeable to the activities if they’ve had a hand in choosing.
Sometimes, children are happy to take a packed lunch and have a picnic in the park. Often simple outings are preferred to elaborate day trips.
When taking more than one child, encourage compromise and try to consider the interests of each child.
Some grandparents find it easier to take each grandchild individually for a special day out. By doing so, they can not only cater to the wishes of that child, but can also spend the day focused just on them, which is sure to make their grandchild feel special.
In any case, when dealing with children, there are sure to be some mishaps and unexpected happenings. The best thing to do is take a deep breath, smile, and remember, flexibility is vital!