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Free Days Out in Edinburgh With Children

Four children does not equate to cheap days out. The zoo alone would cost us as a family £60- for one day. However, we have found out and about round Edinburgh there are many great places to go with children, that will not cost a penny (well perhaps parking- Edinburgh council doesn’t seem to like visitors, so charge a small fortune to park- but that’s a rant for another day!) 1. Botanical Gardens The Botanics are great for walking, running and picnicing. They are free, except the glasshouses. Parking is free on the streets outside at the weekend. Keep an eye on their website (or Like them on Facebook) as they often have activities for children in the John Hope Gateway building. Last time we were there they had free storytelling sessions, inside a Bedouin Tent. I am a fan of anywhere the boys can run about, without fear of them running onto roads, so the Botanics fits the bill. There is also a duck pond. Note, dogs are not allowed in the park. 2. Arthurs Seat Edinburgh’s very own mini-mountain, the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat is great for children. There are various places to park around the hill. You can easily loose yourself on the gentle slopes, and have lots of adventures. If you are feeling fit, it is a small enough hill that even young children can hike to the summit- something that fills a child with a sense of achievement. 3. Edinburgh’s Museums The National Museum of Scotland has recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment, and it is stunning. There are hands on activities and displays for children. The space if open and inviting. It is well worth a visit. The only negative is parking- or the lack of it! Also near by is the Museum of Childhood, on the historic Royal Mile. I remember loving it as a child, however the old building it is housed in does not lend itself to buggies. 4. Cramond Parking at old Cramond Kirk and walk down to the sea front. There is a lovely promenade to walk along, and a beach. Check the notice board for tide times, as at low tide you can walk the half mile out to Cramond Island. 5. Gorgie City Farm This is a fantastic inner city project. This small farm allows easy access to farm animals and vegetable growing to children from the city. It is a charity project, so a donation would be gratefully received. The farm has sheep, pigs, chickens, and a pet corner. There is also a play area...

Homeschooling Mum on Summer Holiday!??

Summer holiday time always takes me a little by surprise. After a long year of doing school, the children are in need of a break… but so am I! I have notions of sitting relaxing with a good book and a cup of tea, as children play beautifully in the other room. Then we wake up on the first day on school holiday’s! I feel justified that I have earned my break! But the inevitable happens: “mum what are we doing today?”, “mum can we go somewhere?”, and then before long the whiny sound of: “I’M BORED!” At that moment I realise we may be on holiday from school, but there are still four children in need of activity and stimulation. What is needed is a plan! One of the first things we do is make a large poster- a summer bucket list- on the poster each child can chose two activities they want to do through the summer. These have to be sensible… going off for a fortnight’s holiday on an aeroplane will not make the list! These are spaced throughout the summer, and are generally things that can make a day trip somewhere. Secondly everyday have a vague idea what you will do. Have some kind of planned activity for the children. My kids need to know something will happen, something they can look forward too! These need not be fancy, or expensive! Easy Summer Holiday Activities 1. Visit the library. Many libraries offer summer reading schemes, or have some sort of free activities, so it is worth having a look. 2. A picnic in a park you have never visited before. 3. Invite friends around you have not seen in a while. 4. Go fishing. Even if you do not have proper rod and tackle, young children love a gentle stream and a fishing net! 5. Visit a beach. 6. Go hiking. 7. Go to a wild and beautiful place you have never visited before. 8. A bike ride 9. Bake new recipes. 10. Geocaching– this is when you use your smart phone’s GPS to locate a hidden container, called a geocache. Just download the app! A bit like a modern day treasure hunt… without the gold! Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Walking With Children Part 2

An advantage of living in a relatively small country like Scotland, is you are pretty close to a lot of beautiful and wild places. One of my favourite areas of Scotland is the Trossachs. The Trossachs are a bit like a miniature version of the Highlands, but easily accessible from Scotland’s central belt. Last weekend we visited Loch Lomond on the west side of the Trossachs. Loch Lomond, has many beautiful places to walk with children, of different ages. We found ourselves on the east side of the Loch. The east side incorporates the West Highland Way, so there are many well maintained paths, with good access for buggies. Now I must make a confession. After planning a beautiful Lochside walk, through woodland, we ended up not moving far from the Loch shore! It has been discovered an 19 month old little boy can have no greater fun than throw stones into water! The older children climbed on the rocks, and old tress. So although we did not go far a great time was had by all… I plan a return trip at some point! For the more adventurous, and slightly older child there is Conic Hill- not one for buggies. Conic Hill is located beside the National Park Centre at Balmaha. Conic Hill is on the West Highland Way, so little hill walkers can feel very grown up! For more information about Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park visit their website. Also in the Trossachs is the Queen Elizabeth Forest. The best times to visit are the autumn- when the woodland is a blaze of colour, and in May when the forest is a carpet of blue. With the late Spring this year we were very blessed to see the bluebells in all their glory. The David Marshall Lodge near Aberfoyle is a good base from which to walk. There are many paths through the forest, which are buggy and young child friendly. Near the lodge there is even a waterfall in the wood. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Disciplining or Training the Heart of the Child

I write about discipline very tentatively. When I read disciplining articles or books I always image in the author to have these perfectly obedient children! I do not- I have four very different children. The oldest two in particular could not be more different. To be honest if I only had my oldest daughter, I would probably feel highly qualified to write about disciplining children, she is obedient and good- the type of child you can take anywhere! However, The Knight Boy is far more challenging! He has been sent from on high to humble me, and kill off any notion of perfect parenting! Having the Knight Boy has challenged everything I would think about parenting. I have had to really meditate and pray over scriptures like: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.” Proverbs 23:13, and “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6. What do these scripture look like when worked out in life? With such very different children I have quickly learnt that one size fits all will not work in discipline. With one child a gentle word is enough to correct them, with others they need more serious consequences. I have also come to learn smacking is not necessarily the best option. I have nothing against smacking, I do not believe it a evil of society that needs to be banned. But I also have found it does not always work. Children are complex humans and an ABC of how to take them from being babies to good, well adjusted adults does not exist. Raising a child is more about knowing that child than a how-to-manuel. I have found my style of parenting soften as time has past. The scripture I find most challenging is, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21. Being firm and strict is not a problem for me- I am not afraid to discipline bad behaviour, however I am learning to train more the heart of the child. The Jedi Boy is not a naughty child, he is deeply inquisitive and determined. It is better to call him spirited. Over the years I have started to now see his behaviour, not as the problem, but as a symptom: the fruit of something. As a parent I need to find the root behind the behaviour. And then tackle the root! That does not mean if he has just been rude...

Gardening with Children

At last, the weather seems to have improved enough to plant some vegetables. So all the children left the school books behind on the kitchen table and headed to the garden. I believe gardening with children is highly beneficial to mental health, and physical health. It also teaches them where their food is from. Whilst digging about in the dirt the children explored the minibeasts found, there, and a small lesson ensued about the importance of these tiny creatures in all our lives. For The Knight boy a little woodlouse went from being “yuck” to crawling about his hand. It is also fascinating to watch from one small, wrinkled seed potato you reap a harvest of many. The miracles of multiplication that occurs from seed to harvest is staggering. After an hour of digging and planting, everyone had worked very hard, and was rather tired. A family activity, that will yield food, is free, and has everyones heart pumping! First to be planted were the potatoes. We dug two trenches, and used some of out own compost to line them (this is the first year, out of five that I have decent compost!) The we spaced the seed potatoes out at around 10cm intervals. The potatoes were then covered over. When the potatoes first appear we will cover them a second time with dirt. This helps the potatoes to develop healthily. The children helped where they could. Each had a go of digging, and filling the wheel barrow with compost. The younger ones, enjoyed racking the compost along the trench. Hopefully this year there will be a good harvest! Tips to Start Gardening with Children 1. Start Small! Do not over stretch yourself. Do not aim to be self-sufficient in vegetables within one year. Choose a few simple plants to get going. 2. Try Planters. If you have a small garden, or do not fancy digging a vegetable patch, start with some planters of tubs. You can find small varieties of carrots that grow well in shallow soil, salads work well, as do herbs. 3. Let children help to plan. Ask them what they want to grow. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
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