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The importance
of
planning

If you're anything like me, when you're at work you're often day-dreaming about your plans for the coming weekend. Working hard during the week, the busy times at your place of work or all of those tasks we try to fit in around parenthood, it all adds up to a feeling that, come the weekend, there'll be a few special moments for time together as a family.

Whenever I have a snatch of time, maybe travelling or late in the evening when everything has been done, you'll always find me researching how I can make those fleeting moments as a family ever so special. To do that requires some planning!

Where I live we're really lucky because we can drive into the city centre really quickly for a cultural adventure at a museum or gallery, or if we can get up a little earlier (with six of us that's pretty hard!) we can reach the coastline within a couple of hours.

A family adventure calendar

This week I'd like you to extend on the family wall project, and look at the next couple of months. What's in the diary? Where are the gaps? Where is there a little bit of room to do something memorable and wonderful?

I hope you've had a chance to talk to the children about the plan, so now we're going to to write down a few thing that you hope to do together. You could do something lovely here, by leaving a weekend entirely open to the spur of the moment, but also saying "we are going to the zoo that saturday".

Talk to the children about the plan. What excites them? What fun suggestions could you come up with for things to do?

You've probably got loads of things you've been saving up for the "right time". Which of those might work over the coming weeks?

Capture some of those ideas on a shortlist, or get the kids to write down an "Awesome List" and stick it on the wall. You could use sheets of paper and ask them to draw out what the "Most Awesomest Day" could look like.

The idea here is to get the kids excited about potential things to do together, but not promising you'll do every single one. Theres's not enough time!

Props and Prep

You've planted a few ideas with the little ones. Probably only a small number have emerged as the ones the kids are excited about. Don't worry. It's a trade-off. For every one of the activities the kids are excited about, you get to have your own too. Special parent rules apply!

Now you've got a few ideas together for things you might like to do together, you can start thinking about adding a little creativity for some photos.

Let's say that a trip to a nature sanctuary has come out as a winner. Are there any pencils and paper pads you could gather? Maybe see if a shop nearby has a set so all of the children get a matching, brand new pad of paper? All of the children drawing together would make a lovely image out in the countryside.

Try to have a think about inexpensive things that you could gather together for your trip. When the kids are in bed, I make a little pile of clothes that are the outfit for each of them the next day. It's such a simple thing, but can be huge for making great images! Over the years I've learnt to buy stripey t-shirts for the children of different colours. Do you have anything like that around? Could you convince the children to dress in a co-ordinated way?

Children's worksheet

Here is a cute worksheet for you to use with the kids to write down your "Awesome Lists" together. You might need to print a few out!

Adult's worksheet

I'd like you to spend some time trying to think about things that would be great experiences and memories. Add them to this sheet, along with props & prep you might need for them. Try to do this at the same time as the kids are thinking about their awesome lists (but also allow some time when they are asleep!)

Share your surprises

Please post anything that you find surprising, fun, interesting or unexpected in the group. Children can be so surprising. I've been amazed by how my eldest loves going to nature reserves with birds, for instance.

A great way to get beautiful images is by going to places the surprise us. You don't get the same reactions on children's faces (or parents'!) if you go to the same old places. It's the surprising, unexpected trips that get the best reactions often, so see what you can make happen! Surprising places don't need to be expensive, just different from what you've done together before.

Have fun and I'm looking forward to seeing the results in the Facebook group! xo

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