What’s Involved With A Water Party?

water playThe other day we were invited to someone’s house for water play.  Now for me this means you all wear light clothes, slap on the sun screen and expect your children to get wet (and you to get at least splashed/a bit damp).  We were meeting up for play before hand and it was decided at that point that super soakers, etc. (anything bigger than a water pistol)  weren’t welcome.  Given that most of the participants were 7-year-old boys, this wasn’t a desperately popular restriction, especially given it was last-minute.  I assumed at the time that it was about size and the danger of getting wet as it wasn’t an objection to guns as such.

Now I was sure some people would bring their bigger guns, so I put my son’s in the boot just in case, as he was desperate to play with it with his friends.  Lo and behold other people did turn up with them and we did get his out of the car.  I was glad we brought it otherwise he would have been upset that we had played by the rules and others hadn’t (to be fair they didn’t know a last-minute decision had been made on this point, plus I think they had assumed that water play meant just that).

I was a bit bemused by the restriction about the guns, when the party host proceeded to get out the water balloons.  I’ve not used these before, but you can get very wet from these as some of the mothers found out to their cost (much wetter than would have happened with the guns as the children mostly left the adults alone).  They are also more aggressive, in a way, if you throw them at other people.  Generally, I was a bit bemused by all the restrictions.  I think it’s fair to say don’t fire at the adults, pets or any children that are too young, but I’m not sure I get the finer distinctions between types of guns, especially when you allow water bombs.  All in all a bit confused.

Parking In A Bus Stop

parents parking near school, parking in a bus stopOur school is not far for a bus stop and for the last few weeks I’ve been noticing the behaviour of certain parents.  There is a group of parents who like to park in the nearby bus stop lay by.  Almost without exception everyone who parks there drives a car made by a premium, German manufacturer.

I’m not sure of the legalities of these things, but I don’t park in bus stops.  I might pull in briefly to safely allow a passenger to get out of the car, but I would never park the car and leave it there while I went into a shop or to collect my child from school.  It doesn’t feel right, appropriate or considerate.  Is that just me?  It must cause difficulties for bus drivers and passengers, plus it could even be dangerous if the bus can’t pull in.

It made me chuckle though that those that park there drive Audis or Mercs.  Is it the car that drives that sort of behaviour?  Or is it just that a certain sort of person, buys a certain sort of car?  Any thoughts?  Do you find the parents with certain types of car tend to park together?  Have you seen any loony school gate parking?

Parent and Child Car Parking Spots

It does annoy me when I see people using the child car parking spots at our local supermarket. There’s a wide range of people who do this, including some that ought to know better like disabled people, who bypass disabled slots to use these spaces, or parents without their kids (it’s like I’ve got a car seat in the back, so that counts right?).

Today I approached a chap who had parked his car in a child slot.  He had no children in the car, hell he didn’t even have a car seat.  I confronted him about it (politely, but assertively) and couldn’t believe the justifications he tried to come up with:

  • ‘I have children. ‘ He seems surprised when I said ‘So what, they aren’t with you?’  Does he think anyone with children can park there?  The supermarket better mark up a lot more slots quick.
  • ‘I’m only going to be 5 minutes.’ So it’s okay to behave badly if you are only going to do it for 5 minutes, is it?  I can just imagine a barrister taking a defendant to pieces, who tried that one in court.

He also said something that I guess was a jibe at me, but it made no sense, but he said it twice so he must have thought it was a good line. ‘What are you going to do sleep in it?’  Given that I was walking into the store with my trolley, I was struggling to see his logic.

I told him that I didn’t think he was a nice man and that he should be ashamed of himself for depriving other people, who needed the spot, of using the place.  I don’t suppose it will make any difference, unless he doesn’t want to risk being taken loudly to task in a supermarket again.

Counting Down The Holiday Charts: My Top Ten Holiday Planning Tips

We can’t be the only family that counts down to their holiday, so I holiday planningthought I’d count down through my top ten holiday planning tips to help you budget for your annual holiday.  Let the holiday chart count down begin!

10. A new entry:  Do your research.  Do it before you book so you choose the right place.  Bookmark useful sites so you can revisit them before you travel to pick up any last-minute tips.  We look at holiday provider’s websites, review sites like Trip Advisor, blogs, etc.  Consider a shout out on Twitter or Facebook to see if you can get some recommendations.

9.  A non-mover at number nine: Book early.  Yes, sometimes you can get last-minute deals, but is it really worth the stress.  I know a friend who packs the car and starts driving while her husband rings up self catering companies to negotiate a last-minute discount, but I don’t think I could cope with that.  I’d prefer to know where I am going so I can research the local area in advance.   Booking early often means that you get a good deal or a free child place, plus it will save massively on the stress front.

8. Down one to number eight: plan your day trips.  Look around for free or cheap places to visit.  When holidaying in this country, we often visit English Heritage or National Trust properties because we have membership cards that get us in free.  They can often be used further afield too, as they have reciprocal agreements with other countries’ heritage organisations. Look for deals and voucher codes.  Booking online is often cheaper and can save on queuing.  Sometimes gift aiding your entry fee for registered charity sites will gain you a free year’s membership, so consider going early in the holiday and then revisiting for free.

7. Our highest new entry: sort out your phone and internet access.  If you are going abroad make sure you check with your phone provider that you have the best package for the country you are going to.  Phone charges can quickly rack up.  If your accommodation doesn’t have wifi, check where you can get it locally on a site like wefi.

6. Up one at number six: Take copies of your key documents like passports and travel insurance.  Leave a copy at home with a friend or relative and keep another copy with you, but separate to your original documents.  It’s enough of a nightmare if something gets lost or stolen without adding to the hassle by not knowing who to contact or what the details are.

5. Up two to number five: plan for your journey.  Make sure you take plenty of snacks and entertainment for your journey.  If you take your own food (if none provided), you’ll have control over when it’s served and what it is. Airline work schedules won’t allow for a hungry toddler.  Entertainment is key.  Older children will usually be happy with some sort of electronic amusement, but for younger children you’ll need more of a range.  It’s worth packing things that can span different ages too: paper and pencils can be used by children of almost any age group.

4. A non mover at number four:  Fill up on included meals like breakfast.  If breakfast is provided, eat well and spend less at lunchtime.  If your evening meal is part of the deal too, then better still, perhaps you could manage with a piece of fruit or two for lunch.

3.  Up one to number three: Look at booking independent trips.  Tours organised by your holiday provider may be just too expensive or not geared up for families. Consider booking with an independent firm, look at public transport or sometimes getting a taxi might make most sense.  Taxis can be shared with other families sometimes to reduce the costs.

2. Down one to two: take your own water bottles.  Drinks can quickly add up. Water is free and safe to drink in most family holiday destinations (obviously check first).  We take an empty bottle through security (when we are flying) and then fill it up from the sinks in the toilets airside.  This saves you being ripped off for drinks by the airline or the airport.

1. Up three places, we have a new number one: have picnics.  Even when staying in hotels, we’ve often self catered our lunches.  Some lightweight plastic plates and a knife (will have to go in the hold luggage) will let you make sandwiches.  We’ve squeezed cheese and ham packets into hotel mini-bars to keep them fresh.  Eat in your room, on the balcony or find a nice picnic spot.  If you like a glass of wine too, pack a corkscrew and buy a local bottle from a store.#

Well that’s it pop pickers, you’ve been reading the holiday charts from Best 4 Mum.  I hope you’ve picked up some holiday planning tips.