When you are expecting your first child, you hear a lot of jokey warnings about what to expect from parenthood. You’re told to bank some sleep, that you will instantly become a blubbering mess whilst watching anything even slightly emotional on telly, and many people will warn you of the sheer boredom that comes with attending various kids’ activities.
Whilst I’ve found it to be true that soft play is a pit of hell, in actual fact there are many kids’ activities that I was dreading, but which have turned out to be quite fun. So here’s a list that you might want to share with your soon-to-be-parent friends. Once you have wrung all the fun out of winding them up, obviously.
Before you have kids, you can easily imagine that watching a troupe of toddlers bumbling their way through a routine to a song from the soundtrack of Trolls would be a tedious experience. And it would, if it weren’t for the fact that your child is involved. That changes everything.
Watching your earnest youngster giving it their all with 100% commitment to the cause is a life-affirming moment. Yes, they ain’t going to win Strictly any time soon (although they are probably still technically more adept than Ed Balls), but it is enthralling to watch. I could sit and enjoy both children dancing to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling all day. And, as an added bonus, it might be enough to tire out my youngest to sleep through the night.
I don’t think I ever considered trampolining a viable spare time activity until recently. To me, it was just something that people at posh schools got to do in PE. However, there has been a recent explosion in trampolining centres around the country and my daughter was desperate to go.
As it turns out, charging around a warehouse where the floor is essentially 90% bouncy is absolutely cracking fun. I had a great time, as did my daughter of course. There is something very liberating about pushing yourself six feet off the ground, even if you then have to hastily re-adjust your landing as a feral toddler zooms underneath you.
I always previously viewed adults who like Disney films and the ilk with the greatest suspicion. Why, when there is a world of fantastic films for adults would you want to watch a kids’ cartoon? That was my thinking.
When you have your first kid, baby cinema screenings allow you a last gasp at adult films (not THAT type of adult film) – in fact, my eldest’s first cinema trip was to 12 Years a Slave when she was eight weeks old – but as soon as she started to understand the world around her, I feared the only options open to me at the pictures were going to be princess-shaped.
As I discovered, the reason why adults enjoy Disney and don’t go crazy the 35th time they have been forced to view Moana that week is because they are actually brilliantly made movies. The stories are great, the songs are catchy and the fact that your kids adore them just makes it special.
In addition, films like Minions and Despicable Me are genuinely hilarious films, whether you are 4 or 40.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good museum and gallery, but before I had kids I couldn’t envision how a child-friendly version would be of any interest. That was, of course, because I had never visited a kids’ museum before.
We are lucky to live near Halifax, where Eureka! The National Children’s Museum is based. It is such a great place. It’s full of well thought-out, fun and educational activities that are perfect for enjoying with your children. We go back all the time and we’ve never tired of it.
The Discover Children’s Story Centre in east London is also fantastic and I’m sure there are plenty more around the country. Let me know in the Comments if you know a brilliant kids’ museum.
All these years after cursing its very existence, homework can actually be a magical experience. My eldest is only five, so I don’t have to solve quadratic equations or anything just at the moment, but I really enjoy helping her out with her reading, writing, numbers and everything else.
Being able to watch her learn and grow as she conquers the work is fascinating and inspiring. The fact that you can help her take on the knowledge that will stick with her for life is an amazing experience.
Other Kids’ Activities?
Can you think of any other kids’ activities that you dreaded at first, but which turned out to be fun? Let me know in the Comments section below.