3 ways to make a kids' day out amazing

Energetic children can be tricky to keep up with at the best of times. Here's some tips on how to keep your little ones entertained.

3 ways to make a kids' day out amazing

1. Prep for a fest

Plopping your family into the midst of a daylong festival, carnival or amusement park can be tricky indeed. Opportunities abound for the kids to get cranky and dispirited, all while money is flowing out of your wallet like a river of green. A little advance preparation will make all the difference.

  • Get a map of the festival grounds and an event schedule in advance. Plot out strategies for parking, a walking route through the attractions and top-priority activities. Make a mental note of the bathroom and food stall locations.
  • If you're arriving at an amusement park right at opening time, make a beeline for a favourite ride at a part of the park that's farthest from the main entrance. You will be able to start the day by taking your favourite ride several times before any line at all builds up.
  • If your chosen venue will allow it, pack along parent-approved snack foods and a bottle of water for each person. Because provisions are typically outrageously overpriced at festivals and amusement parks, this will seriously reduce the cost of the trip and will ensure that the day is not a complete nutritional disaster.
  • Have a plan for killing small amounts of time. Take along books or small games to entertain the kids during waiting times — while standing in line, for instance, or to occupy five-year-old Susie while 10-year-old Zack gets to go on the roller coaster.
  • Some valuable survival items to pack: hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, a lightweight picnic blanket, disposable wipes and a change of clothes.

2. Picky kids? Let them plan

Ever feel like you can do nothing right — in the minds of your kids, anyway? If choice of family activities is a constant sore point among your children, try this tactic: let your kids plan the family outing once in a while.

You can set broad parameters — budget, distance, time frame and such — and leave the rest to your children to plot out. The planning will be a great life lesson for the kids, and if the outing is not completely to their liking, they will only have themselves to blame.

3. Take Harry Potter along for the ride

Anytime a family trip requires an hour or more of driving, you're confronted with the age-old quandary: how to entertain the kids. Books and puzzles will only take you so far. Same goes for cow-counting or license plate games. And just letting them scream and shout will give you a migraine.

One of the best solutions around: audiobooks. An engaging children's story will keep the kids quiet for hours on end. The story becomes a shared family experience — something you can all talk about over lunch. Best of all: your local library has a mountain of recorded books that you have access to for free — enough variety to appeal to every taste.

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