Yesterday my wife decided she was going to escape our little mad house and spend a day out with her Mum shopping in Norwich. That’s around 30 miles away – meaning I found myself left behind to control our four kids, alone.
Insert spooky twilight-zone jingle here. Now cut it off, because entertaining all four kids at once isn’t a problem for me at all and to be honest I quite enjoy it. It’s always nice to get a bit of quality Daddy time with them all, and I certainly got that.
I don’t drive, much to my shame, but that has never stopped me from looking to make the most of opportunities like this. I knew in my mind that I would be taking them all out somewhere, but where exactly was left as a last minute decision. I felt like I should surprise them with something they know, something they love, but something they don’t get to do all that often because of my lack of a driving license.
There is a park they love 1.8 miles away (according to Google Maps), a place they call “the curly slide park” which we try to take them to as often as we can in the summer but they hadn’t yet been this year because of the distance, and I suppose the weather too, but that is where I decided I would be taking them.
I knew taking four kids aged five and under that far, along busy roads, all hanging from one buggy had it’s potential issues but i’m not the worrying type – the only thing I thought of was how much they would enjoy being there when we arrived. So I threw together a picnic, bagged the kids’ shades and a park games set and off we went!
I kept the guessing en-route about where were heading, and deliberately suggested a number of places they go to often which were on the way before teasing them by pretending to head into each place, before turning away at the last second each time. It wasn’t until the saw countless boats bobbing around on the broads that they realised where we were and as I expected, instant joyful screams all round, making the long walk in the heat worthwhile for me.
First of all we fed the swans some Hula Hoops, because everybody knows swans love Hula Hoops right? However these swans left every single one – they were clearly not hungry or they were ungrateful b*****ds. Then after a quick pit-stop at the toilets it was onto “the curly slide park” and yes, straight to the famous curly slide where they spent the first fifteen minutes quite happily going up and down, time and time again.
The curly slide eventually lost it’s appeal and they ran off and tried everything else out. The climbing frames, the slides, the swings, the nets, the pirate ship and so on. You’re a parent, you know what kids are like, they’re not happy until they’ve done the entire playground but i’m pleased to say they all did, and they managed to tire themselves out to the point of actually asking “can we go have our picnic now?”, and I didn’t have to be asked twice.
We found a nice quiet spot by a band-stand (it really was quiet, no band today) and sat on the grass to have our picnic and I fed baby C a bottle too, who had only just woke up after napping from the moment we left our house. Once they had finished eating we got the game set out and played football, piggy in the middle, tennis and even attempted softball. Most games lasted at least 30 seconds, not bad going! I didn’t dare get the frisbee out though as other people were around and it was quite windy, as we were right by the broads.
The kids then decided to use the nearby band-stand as their own little house, and then a performance stage before LA needed another toilet stop. This time at the toilets we were greeted by some over-friendly squirrels, one of which scratched at my hands – probably my fault for ‘cooching’ him over as if he was a kitten despite having nothing to give it. Cruel? I was only trying to be nice, and in return I received a vicious attack.
Another quick play on the playground and the kids were really starting to tire. I could see they wanted to carry on playing, but they simply didn’t have the energy left – they even admitted to having had enough – so I decided to quit while I was ahead with four happy kids and began to head home as I knew getting four tired kids through a 1.8 mile walk would prove more difficult than the earlier walk when they had energy to burn.
My ‘fears’ were proved wrong though. C slept all the way home while R, LA and LU took turns on the buggy board which really helped me out all day – without it i’m sure things would not have gone so smoothly. There was one point where I had C in the buggy, LA holding onto the buggy, LU on the buggy board and R on my back as her ankle was hurting, but that struggle only lasted a minute or so.
Entertaining kids doesn’t always mean taking them on expensive days out, and for me days like this are the most enjoyable. I find that our children just want to be out doing something, and aren’t too fussy about what it is as long as it’s something they can find some fun in and as their Daddy, seeing them have fun all day long made it a fantastic day for me.