So firstly I need to tell you that I am just not a massive fan of planned days out. Going to the aquarium, theme parks, the zoo etc all make me come out in a cold sweat! I do it for the girls but I have to mentally prepare myself in advance. As a child these types of days out were treats not a weekly or even monthly occurrence. Now this might be because my parent didn’t have the money or it might just have been because they felt the same way about ‘days out’ as I do now.
However, I don’t feel like I missed out as a child. We spent our time just playing – in the woods by our house, on the front green or in the garden with all our friends. We built camps, made perfume out of the rose petals from the garden of the old lady who lived in the house on the end, putting on plays for our parents (my poor mum!), riding our bikes, washing our bikes, challenging the kids in the street next to ours to a massive game of ‘runouts’, water fights, forty-forty, etc etc. I never remember being bored and I certainly don’t remember ‘planned fun’.
So why do so many of my friends and fellow parents have these really expensive annual passes? Is the sign of a well developed childhood having spent the majority of time at the zoo or at a theme park with characters who have abnormally sized heads?! Perhaps I am just a kill joy or perhaps times have changed since I was a child and children do not have the freedom to play like I did so we need to put them into ‘organised’ fun.
On the one occasion we went to Thorpe Park as children my parents told my big sister and I that we were going to a garden centre. This to my sister and I has total hell! Taking us away from our friends, our bikes and our freedom! So we sat sulking in the car until suddenly one of us noticed the sign to Thorpe Park. At first it was a feeling of confusion (are we really going to go to a theme park?!) to total elation! It is a memory which will stay with me forever from my childhood. Will my children ever get this feeling or will they come to just expect these fun (overpriced) days out? I am just a little unsure why families would rather spend hours shuffling along in a queue with a thousand other families instead of running around a park, on the beach or playing in the garden?!
Perhaps if I could afford these passes then I would feel better about them but I am trying to save to buy a secure, forever home (with a big garden) for my girls to grow up and ‘play’ in.
I should probably also mention at this point that I do have a National Trust pass because I love getting outside and I love that there are so many different places to go. Whenever we rock up somewhere new either on holiday or visiting friends etc I search the app for the best outdoor space for a picnic or to explore. I feel this still give us the freedom I crave for my girls while also giving me a cafe to feed my caffeine habit.
Have I turned into a grumpy mum? Someone tell me I am not the only ‘anti annual pass’ parent out there?! Can’t we campaign to bring back free play for children? Let them use their imaginations and not just be told what to play with/on!
*Please note: I went to Marwell Zoo last month and I have booked to go to Chessington in half term so the girls are getting a fix of ‘planned’ fun*