The Days Out Jar – For Family Outings Without (Too Much) Stress
Down in Berkshire, we always knew where to go for a day out. We knew the parks, and the attractions, and the towns and villages. When the weekends rolled around, we always had a plan. And, if we didn’t, it was incredibly easy to think of one at short notice.
When we moved back to Derbyshire that all changed. Despite growing up here, I had very little knowledge of where to go with children. I knew the major parks of Derby itself, but that was about it. And so, for the first couple of months, we didn’t really go anywhere or do anything. The eternally-foggy weather and the fact that I was in the first trimester of a pregnancy didn’t exactly help. We felt a bit stranded. Which was mad. Stranded? In the middle of one of the best national parks in the country??
Well, yeah. Stranded. No idea of where to go or what to do. So much effort to decide. And then the Easter half-term rolled around and I decided: Enough Was ENOUGH. I was going to MAKE something (yes, me, the non-crafter) that would help us to decide where to go and what to do. Enter: THE DAYS OUT JAR.
It’s literally an empty glass jar I had kicking around, filled with slips of paper. It’s nothing fancy whatsoever. I mean, it’s quite exciting for a four-year-old: he gets presented the jar, he gets to pick where we go – but it’s not exactly jazzy.
That’s because the most important part of the Days Out Jar was its creation.
Like I said, we had no idea of where to go in the surrounding area. We performed half-hearted Google searches at random intervals, but had no direct strategy or idea of what anything was. Or where it was. So I found a few hours, gathered a few books, and sat down to research. I flicked through pamphlets. I scoured sites like Day Out With The Kids and Picniq, and I combed through our National Trust handbook. And I analysed entry prices, opening times, car parking, deals, locations, directions… Finally, I printed out sheets and sheets of A4 with attractions and parks and gardens listed, cut them all up into slips, folded the slips, and popped them all inside the jar. The Days Out Jar.
It almost seems like too much effort, doesn’t it? Too much effort for something as silly as deciding where to go at the weekend. But y’know what? It’s immediately paid off. Immediately.
Because, now we have the Days Out Jar. It sits innocuously in the living room during the week, and come Thursday or Friday we take it down and let TD pick a slip. We take a look, and if it’s something a bit unrealistic for that particular weekend we pick another (e.g. we can’t go to theme parks every weekend). When it’s do-able, it’s set: that’s what we’re doing! That’s where we’re going!
So far, it’s been pretty sweet. We’ve been to Castleton and Peveril Castle. We’ve visited the Heights of Abraham. And we’ve discovered a few new parks in the area.
I’m so glad I took the time to make the Days Out Jar. We don’t spend hours trying to find somewhere to go anymore, or bickering about the decision. It’s so much less stressful. FAR better than spending aaaages trying to decide and then exhausting ourselves and ending up going nowhere.
The Days Out Jar seemed a cheesy idea at first, but it’s going to help us out SO MUCH, especially when it comes to summer. If the weather ever gets any better, that is…