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Improve Time Out As A Family

Friday night finally landed after a very busy week. We, as most weeks, had had a lot on and we were ready for the weekend.

My lovely other half offered to take us out for a meal which was a great suprize. A meal out, a night off from cooking and all that cleaning up.

We all got ready and off we went in the car. How our Friday nights have changed? Driving along on a Friday night listening to Peppa Pig and Mr Tumble songs, it does make me smile.

Little N is 22 months old now so keeping her entertained whilst we are out can sometimes be a challenge.

I keep a bag packed with different toy's and activities which is handy at any given time when I need to go out. It's handy to have it all packed, as often times are busy and I am rushing around trying to remember all the essentials. If I was to just quickly select things at last minute I wouldn't be able to put as much thought into what I was selecting so potentially it may not be as successful.
I regularly change the contents in the bag to keep it exciting for Little N. 

I consider...
  • Her current interests
  • What was a success with her the previous time
  • What she didn't enjoy so much the previous time
  • I always include a book or two
  • Something new
  • A last minute grab of her choice
Tonight in our bag we had:

3 Peppa Pig board books. 
A little note book 
A shiny yellow pencil she hadn't seen before
A pen 
A selection of star stickers
An interactive phone which she selected
3 Disney Princess figures

When we arrived for our meal we were seated and I was secretly relieved at our location. In a buzzing atmosphere we were sat in an alcove with a couple. It wasn't too busy and noisy here and Little N had a little space.

As always Little N begins anywhere we go by taking in her surroundings and quizzing me and her Dad about anything and everything she can see. 
"What's this?" "Who's that?" "What's this do?" 
Little N always gets our full attention during this time. We encourage her to take in her surroundings and to ask as many questions as she wishes. We point out interesting things she may have missed. We explain all she wants to know. After the quizzing she happily sits contented observing all she see's. She goes on to repeat to herself some of the things we have said.

This gives me and her Dad some time to talk to each other.

Once she starts showing signs of becoming unsettled (which can range anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes) this is when the bag comes out. It contains some little treasures for her and she is more than happy and grateful to explore what we have brought along.

We looked at the books to begin with. Little N has a great love for books so they are always a hit.
The waiter came over and we ordered our food. Little N began quizzing again at this point. 
"What's the man doing?" "What's that?" Pointing to his note pad. I talked to her about what the waiter was doing and asked her if she would like a note pad too.
I handed her the note pad and the drawing pencil. She sat drawing and mumbling along at what she had heard her Dad order along with a few extra foods.
"Sausages, chips, narnas, chicken, eggs." (What an interesting combination?!)
She was imitating what she had seen the waiter do.

She did this for several minutes and then I showed her the star stickers which I had hidden in the pad. I didn't give her the stickers straight away as introducing one thing and waiting before introducing another keeps the activity interesting. Once again this kept her busy. Practising her fine motor skills. She then used the pen and began to colour the star stickers in.

Our food came out then. As Little N had had the stimulation and our attention she sat and ate her meal really well. She told us her din dins was nice and even asked her Dad for some sauce.

Giving Little N things to stimulate her mind as we were waiting meant that the time we had out together as a family was enjoyable for all of us. 

I realise that our meal out is just as important to her as it is to us. She has needs too, a short attention span and a little body full of beans. Me and her Dad want to sit, talking about our week and the day we have had, to sit back and relax. As a family we all must meet half way to get a happy medium and do a a bit of what we all need and enjoy.

You see as a family, times are not just about me, not just about Little N or her Dad, they are about all of us collectively. This makes me think again about 'The Love Tank' concept. Doing a bit of what each of us want and like means that the family unit is happy and healthy.

We had a lovely meal, it was a pleasure once again to be all out together and we all look forward to the next time.

So if you have a young child who struggles with certain situations, consider what you could put in their bag to keep them occupied, happy and secretly learning - steer away from technology where possible. 
Learning Through Play
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