The clocks have gone back and the school uniform is already washed and pressed for next week’s back to school. But after a free summer of boating in Chichester harbor, paddling at Climping Beach and touring the local village fairs, this half term with my boys is in danger of feeling, well a little flat.
We really made the most of summer enjoying local events including the Wiston Steam Rally, camping at Billycan Camping and visiting the jousting event at the Castle. Not to mention regular dips at the Lido and picking our own fruit and veg at Roundstone Pick Your Own Farm. But now with the change of pace a new season brings, it’s becomes a bit more difficult to keep kids out and about when it’s not quite as pleasant outside.
According to studies, children should spend at least 3 hours outside a day everyday – whatever the weather and whether they’re in school or not. With that being said, we’re always on a mission to get outdoors whenever possible but especially when the alternative is a rainy half term day at a soft play or trampolining centre. So here are my tips on getting outside with the kids over half term and some of our favourite places to go locally to embrace the autumn season.
Embrace the dirt
I blame Peppa Pig, but all kids seem to be obsessed with jumping in muddy puddles. But really if they’re going to get outside, kids are going to get dirty and I think you just have to embrace it. Everything can be washed – even a splash suit and down coat. Exploring dirt and the creatures (we even found an Adder in the woods last week!) , hidden in the mud is exciting for young minds – telling very young children that loud noises scare the creatures is also an excellent way to keep them calm(er). Some of our favourite puddle jumping spots include Mill Road wondering along from the Castle to Swanbourne Lake and a walk along the river Arun which is a mud lovers dream at this time of year!
Make yourself get out
On a day with rubbish weather, one of the biggest barriers for us leaving the house is actually me! Last Autumn I booked in with Chichester Forestry School one morning a week – people thought I was mad starting it in Autumn but it’s always easy to get out in summer – as soon as it gets cooler it’s much harder. The class forced us to get up and out and we had so much fun when we were there, exploring the woods, making things and building fires. Skills the boys definitely remember, they’re so good at collecting sticks and not getting too close to a lit fire at the same time relishing the opportunity to be part of the process. The school runs a number of forest days during half term for school age children as well as any younger siblings.
There’s no such thing as bed weather, just bad clothes
Being organised when the weather is unreliable is an absolute must, having double of everything with spare changes of socks and mittens being the essential items. I’ve always found that as long as the little ones aren’t cold they’ll stay out for hours. The boys also adore their umbrellas so staying dry is actually fun – Squibly Biskit in town do some really fun ones.
Ride the train
A little bit of a cheat but if the weather is really bleak we will head out on a mini adventure on the train. Even if it’s just Arundel to Amberley! When they’re very little you can just get away with the train ride itself, when they’re older then a visit to Amberley Museum at the end is a treat. They have outdoor events on throughout Autumn including the Autumn Bus Show and special Halloween events on the 1st November which look great fun, particularly for older kids.
Head to the beach
If you regularly read my blog, you’ll know that heading to the beach is a staple for us! I’m renowned for forcing everyone out the car on a blustery and wet beach, I find that 30 minutes at the beach on colder days is the equivalent to a whole day in summer – throwing some seaweed around and back in the car or nearest cafe for a hot chocolate is often used as a bribe for getting blown around. If we’re heading out after school for the best light I pack PJs wrapped in a hot water bottle which I keep in the car for a cpsy change before we head home. My favourite beaches to head to in Autumn are West Wittering where you’ll find very little crowds compared to summer and Climping for its local convenience.
Embrace the dark
One of the most depressing things about Autumn and the clocks changing is the darkness in the evenings. We just get used to going to bed in the sunshine for it to change to early evening darkness, seemingly overnight. Now the boys are at a certain age we’ve got them into star gazing, heading into the garden at night to look up and see what we can see. There’s some great apps to help identify the constellations for inquisitive minds. If we can we’ll head out for an ‘evening’ walk to listen for owls and other night time creatures – we even found a baby hedhehog once along the Ford Road. I also love just taking them for a walk through town, peeking into the big houses on Maltravers Street which are all lit up, imagining who once lived there in the ‘olden days’. When we’re finished we’ll stop off at a cosy kid friendly pub for a ‘pub water’ (water with ice cubes and a lemon – what a treat!) and a packet of crisps. The Kings Arms has a great selection of games to keep the kids happy and we’ll often order a Pizza Express take-away to enjoy in the pub. Although your child asking when they’re next going to the pub in front of the grandparents is a challenge you’ll also have to take on!
Get stuck in, laugh and find pleasure in the little things. The cold and wet comes around every year, you might as well enjoy. The kids will if you do!