Warning: this may come as a shock to any non-teachers reading this, so be prepared. Contrary to popular belief, teachers are not rich. I’ve been teaching for 15 years and have a management role, so my salary is ok, but dropping a day a week, having a Schools Direct trainee husband and two children, with all the expenses and childcare costs they bring (the children, not the husband), all take their toll on that “ok” salary. So for us, entertaining the children is not a fancy affair.
T loves a good theme park as much as the next 6 year old, but in his time on this planet, he’s been to 4. They are ridiculously expensive, and not something we can afford to do very often. Soft plays are great, but to be honest, how many parents actually like going to them? So loud, often smelly, having to ignore children doing things that you wouldn’t dream of letting your own get away with. We love farm parks, but again , they can be pricey, and on a day where you have severe weather warnings for rain, probably not the best choice of venue. So today, we had a free day out! Well, apart from a rather lovely lunch at The Swan in Cheltenham. But that was my Dad’s treat, so was a bonus extra!
Who would have thought that a washing up bowl full of water, some fairy liquid and a huge pile of plastic crockery would have provided so much entertainment? Apparently, it’s great fun! Everyone got a bit damp in the garden, but it was free fun that lasted for ages. And for anyone who’s reading and thinking what a rubbish mother I am for giving my children washing up to entertain them, it does get better.
We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful farm shop at Over Farm, down the road from us, which is always good for a wander. But sadly, not a free wander, as I always end up filling a basket with their amazing produce. However, wandering around the fields full of crops and seeing the animals is free, and seeing both my children stroking an ostrich and T running off along the fields was priceless. Being fortune enough to avoid the heavy showers, we had a lovely time exploring, finding all the crops and looking for wildlife. Wonderful. And free.
We then went on to The Flying Shack in Cheltenham. It’s a flying school on the boundary of Gloucestershire Airport, and while the flying lessons would have proved a little pricey for our cheap day out, for the price of a cup of tea we sat and watched light aircraft, helicopters and even a jet come and go. Ok, I’m sure many people wouldn’t have fancied it, but the children absolutely loved it. Once the rain eased off, there was plenty of open space to run around and we could even go to the perimeter fence to get a closer view. I’ve never been there before, despite repeatedly saying we should, but I’d definitely go again. We could happily have sat there all afternoon watching the air traffic come and go.
Days out don’t have to be expensive. Save the theme parks for a special treat. There is so much to do for free and in the fresh air on our own doorsteps. We just need a little bit of imagination to find it.