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Are We Having Fun Yet? Outings with Children.

By Yvette Vignando - 25th July 2011

Ever planned a fun day out with the children and then had your plans go out the window? I can think of two recent examples not quite meeting the idyllic family outing I had in mind. In hindsight, I am laughing and I’m still glad we forged ahead despite whingeing and helpful critiquing from the teenagers in the back of the car.

We have three boys, now aged 15,13 and 9 - so you can probably imagine it’s a challenge to plan a family outing that meets everyone’s taste and criteria.  And there are now a few new rules about family outings that I've learned from our eldest teenager. These may come in handy if your babies have not yet reached the cool maturity that comes with a teenage brain:

  • Friends do not get invited on family outings – that is not cool – “they’re not your friends Mum, they’re my friends.”
  • Mothers do not walk next to their teenage sons through shopping centres where a school friend might be browsing in the computer games section – teenage sons must walk a respectable 2 metres or so behind their mother to give the appearance that they are shopping independently.
  • No matter how sunny it is or how big the hole in the ozone layer, if there is any chance of meeting a school friend while out, a teenage boy will not wear a hat; exceptions are made for beach holidays where chances of these encounters are minimal.
  • It is unwise, or perhaps naieve to plan an early family breakfast out at a restaurant with teenage boys – even if the quantities of food promise to be generous beyond imagining.

I’m sure there are a few more rules – we only have our training wheels on here – perhaps you can add some more for me?

So my two examples ...

Attempt One: take three boys out to ice skating rink at Bondi Beach to enjoy sunshine, ice and ice creams – all good in theory until oldest boy refuses to wear hat, refuses to be bought coolest hat in shops and then decides the “hat incident” requires a stay at home to make an important point about non-hat-wearing. Also good in theory until you arrive at Bondi Beach (40 minutes later) to find ice rink has technical problems. Still feeling optimistic – we return on the 40 minute drive to alternative ice rink near home with two boys – also good in theory until Mr 13 discovers there is no ice skating boot in entire rink that fits him as they’re all too large, too small, too tight, too loose or generally not up to Goldilocks’ usual standards. Solution: Mr 9 has a lovely skate on his own while Mr 13 and I look on in admiration.

Attempt Two: take three boys and husband out to Lebanese breakfast on a Sunday at restaurant that husband has read about “somewhere in Lakemba or Granville” (for those resident outside of Sydney, these two places are about 30 minutes drive from each other). The review read by husband some weeks ago has inexplicably disappeared from the reach of Google despite a thorough review by me of every possible newspaper and food review site – never mind – we drive to Granville with empty stomachs and a 15 year old who would rather be sleeping. Result – we find one authentic Lebanese bakery turning out nothing but gorgeous Lebanese bread – and no “special Lebanese breakfast place”. No problem – I buy a bag of Lebanese bread, the warm flat breads coming directly from the oven, and we eat the bread as we drive to Auburn, having  realised that Lakemba would be a destination too far for the teens who are now thirsty and chewing up huge rounds of Lebanese bread.

We ended up at Auburn at a Turkish café where we had a very lovely Turkish breakfast - Mr 9 was too full of Lebanese bread to have anything but a hot chocolate. The teens were happy however, and I can recommend Mado at 63 Auburn Road, Auburn for an inexpensive and fresh breakfast surrounded by Ottoman Empire artefacts and extremely friendly service. I loved the hot sweet Apple Tea and the warm, crunchy Turkish bread with a lick of oil and plenty of sesame seeds.

So tell me, have you had any of these outings that just were not what you had in mind? Or perhaps you can share some more rules for outings with teenage boys?

I’d love to hear your anecdotes.

image freeditigalphotos.net Suat Eman

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