For me, at the ages they currently are, there really is no in between. Often, if we do try to take them somewhere that does not have sufficient entertainment it does not end well so we choose our outings carefully.
This isn’t from lack of trying, we try to instil traditional values such as eating at the dinner table and using table manners but sometimes when you are trying to reason with a three year old this approach really does make sense.
These days a bucket of crayons and some colouring in really doesn’t cut it for much longer than ten minutes and to be perfectly honest my husband and I both work so we do not want to spend our family time arguing with our three year old in public or trying to settle a six month old baby amongst the disapproving stares of strangers ( I might want to mention here that I do not have this problem with our 15 year old).
So for me, when I catch up with other mum friends, it is either at some ones house, a park or a child friendly café. I say “child friendly” because there are many cafes everywhere that are not.
My day stupidly starts at around 5.30am so coffee with friends is usually done between morning and lunch and we share a common goal –
“To watch the children have so much fun that by the time we get home they are ready for an afternoon nap”.
As all parents know there are few things more exhausting than an over tired child and the aim is to avoid this at all costs.
I often find a place, go there every week and then forget it ever existed only to rediscover it again a few months later and wonder why I ever stopped going in the first place, that is one of the things I love about Penrith, there really are that many things to do and see.
One of those places is nestled amongst the beauty that is Blue Hills Wetlands. This beautiful, spacious park has the added bonus of being located directly next to Saphires Café making it popular with both children and adults. Children of all ages can bring their bikes and scooters with them or simply play in the sandpits or on the swings, slide and climbing frame, all naturally positioned between the native plant life and giant rock features.
The whole area is fenced and partly shaded. We sit with our coffees near the entrance catching up while our children play and make new friends.
It’s one a place that you can easily take for granted without even considering the time, effort and planning that must have gone into perfecting such a location.
We talk for hours about this mornings “wish I had a Go-Pro” kickboxing class, not even aware of the time passing by. We are with “like” people who have brought their children too and don’t mind the constant interruptions of children running back and forward to the tables to take another swig on their chocolate shakes.
When the children are tired and our bellies are full we pile into the car. As I strap the kids into their seats sand pours out of their shoes and onto the carpeted floor, if there is one thing I can’t stand in my car it is sand, messy, sticky, hard to clean up sand in the carpet but for this place I decide I’m going to make an exception. We drive home and I sneak a peak at my sleeping children in the revision mirror, mission accomplished.