I think the toddler years are tricky ones to manage when it comes to days out and activities. Toddlers need constant stimulation and things to do to help them grow and develop and to prevent them from becoming bored. However, long days and lack of routine can make them equally cranky and difficult. Throw in a bit of potty training, nap times, fussy eating and communication issues and it can be extremely daunting taking your 2 year old out for the day.
I am currently on maternity leave with my 2 year old and a newborn baby, and although I love my kids, I can’t bear the idea of being cooped up indoors with them all day. Even if the Great British weather breaks enough to let us play in the garden, which this year it mercifully has, I still get cabin fever and start climbing my own garden fence in an attempt to escape the monotony of constant “Mummy bounce, NOW! [on the trampoline]”, “NO! No nap time! [with supplementary screams and tears]”, and “Mummy, Peppa Pig on…Mummy, Duggee on…Mummy, Minion on…Now, Mummy, NOW!”.
Of course there are big day out places to go, like Alton Towers (who am I kidding, I actually mean CBeebies Land!), which should not be attempted without back up in the form of anther adult or two. Even a trip to the local swimming baths is too hard for me to manage with a toddler and a newborn without having another adult in tow to help me juggle them. So, what can I do with them both when I am alone on maternity leave while my other half is working? Well, I’ve discovered a few places in the nearby vicinity that I have been to and have thoroughly enjoyed. Although these are near where I live, don’t be disheartened if you are at the other end of the country as I am sure there would be something similar near where you are. What did we do before the days of Google, eh?!
Cholmondley Castle Gardens
I’m no gardener, and I’m not a sightsee-er. Send me on a city break and I won’t mess around looking at local buildings, I will be online researching the best places to eat and drink (#priorities), but when I went to Cholmondley Castle Gardens I was blown away. I stumbled across the venue through the Facebook Events page as they were hosting a Teddy Bear’s Picnic in the grounds which I thought would be fun for Evie. It was, she really loved it, but so did I. Relaxing in the grounds of a picturesque building, and exploring gardens that are simply stunning was significantly more enjoyable than I imagined.
I packed up a picnic and blanket, popped George in the pram, stuck the potty in the pram basket and voila I was covered for all eventualities. Evie had only been potty trained for a week so it’s scary thinking of going out without a toilet on hand which is why having the pram to discreetly carry the potty for me was the perfect solution.
Cholmondley Castle Gardens, half way between Wrexham and Crewe, has the loveliest little tea room with home made cakes, Snugbury’s ice cream and an extensive lunch menu, so if the weather isn’t so nice there is still a solution for eating and drinking. Parking was a breeze and even on a day like the Sunday I was there with its glorious weather and an event on there was plenty of space for parking and lots of room for managing kids in and out of car seats. The Teddy Bear’s Picnic event was lovely…there were children’s entertainers including Disney character sing alongs, and a Punch and Judy show…Evie’s assessment was “full marks”. Mine was that it would have been lovely to see 2 small additions, firstly a children’s magic show or similar, and secondly a bouncy castle.
Check out www.cheshiregardens.com for details on all of the gardens in the Cheshire county that you can take the family to. This website has information on the events that are run at these gardens, like the teddy bear’s picnic.
Woore Fruit Farm
I went online and researched where Evie and I could go strawberry picking and that’s how I came across Woore Fruit Farm. When I got there I wasn’t quite sure I was in the right place until more and more cars started pulling up. I went on a Friday and we were one of the only families with kids there as mainly it was retired couples stocking up on punnets of berries for jam making.
The Farm has all kinds of fruits being grown so we will definitely head back later in the year for apples, as well as another strawberry haul in a few weeks. There is quite a lot of walking for little legs, but Evie managed it, even if we did have a mad dash to the toilet at one point when she decided she needed a wee while in the apple orchard (needless-to-say I had forgotten the potty, but at least there was a toilet with a kiddies stool in the farm building for us to use.)
Evie absolutely loved picking her strawberries, raspberries and tayberries, and I appreciated how patient the staff were when we returned with the piddliest amount of berries which made the free plastic tub they gave us to hold them in hardly worth their while. But at least I can say with confidence that Evie really did pick all of her own berries! They have a little cafe on site with Snugbury’s ice cream, and prepicked punnets for buying alongside home made juices, cider and other vegetables grown on site. There is also a few garden toys and some chickens, ducks and turkeys in the grounds which delighted the little ones.
I would recommend wearing the baby in a sling rather than pushing the pram which was a little awkward on the land. Also, check out their facebook page before going to ensure there are sufficient crops of berries for picking just in case there have been lots of visitors cleaning the plants out.
Wheelock Hall Farm
Nestled between Crewe and Sandbach, this is another amazing location for a bright day. It doesn’t need to be sunny, or even particularly warm, to be enjoyed. Wheelock has such extensive facilities that Evie once spent a full day here with her Nana, an entire day!!
At Wheelock kids can feed the animals, or simply meet the animals which is what Evie is doing in this photo. There is a large outdoor playpark with all kinds of swings and roundabouts for varying ages. Kids can also explore the cornfields, ride on kiddie tractors, or take advantage of the large indoor soft play. There is a lovely cafe on site and a very big shop selling produce from the farm, locally sourced goods as well as gifts, homeware, stationary…the shop goes on forever with more and more treasure the further in you explore.
Seasonally Wheelock Hall Farm offers additional activities such as pumpkin picking so I would recommend following their facebook page for information on their latest events.
I was shocked to hear that Damon didn’t know the Facebook Events menu existed. I thought it was just a given that anyone who even occasionally uses Facebook knows it exists. I’m not on Facebook often, I’ve turned into an Instagram fiend as you know, however, I would definitely suggest you explore the Facebook events page regularly to see what’s on in your local area.
You can find the Events menu on the home page just after you log in. It is one of the menu options on the left hand side of your screen. Events can be filtered by theme, location or date and I promise you it will open up a world of possibilities for you and your family to make the most of any family time you have available.