Life’s a Picnic! Enjoy the summer sun with our tips on how to picnic with kids…
As the summer weather has finally arrived, for many families eating outside is a much more favourable option than scoffing lunch in front of the TV or dinner cooped up in a dingy dining room.
However, if attempting a meal in the great outdoors with no walls to contain ‘hangry’ toddlers fills you with dread, panic not! Following these simple tips will make any picnic a whole lot easier to handle.
Start familiar. A picnic is still a picnic if it takes place in your garden. Invest in a robust picnic blanket with waterproof backing to stop any damp grass ruining your meal. Look out for ones that fold tidily with Velcro fastenings for easier storage. You can find them for under £10 in most supermarkets and children will love the novelty of helping bring the food outside and setting it up on the blanket ready for everyone to tuck in. If you can’t get hold of one a beach towel or old tablecloth will do the job perfectly.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous then go online and find a local park or picnic spot. Going somewhere new is always an exciting experience for children and their grown-ups but take care to do your research. Make sure to check how far the picnic areas are away from the car park. No one wants to be dragging heavy bags of food (and tired children) on a 4-mile walk before lunch!
Top tip: Don’t forget your picnic blanket if your destination does not have designated picnic benches for you to use.
Stick to what you like. As tempting as it may be to pack your bag full of all the beautiful new recipes you’ve pinned to your Pinterest ‘Picnic’ board, nothing would be more frustrating than finding your perfect spot, unloading all your creations only for the entire family to turn their nose up at it all and demand a cheese spread sarnie. It’s best to pack food you know everyone will eat. Favourite sandwich fillings or cold pasta dishes, cocktail sausages or cheese sticks and a variety of crisps is usually where to start. It’s also good to bear packaging in mind, for convenience and for the environment. What isn’t eaten will have to either be taken home or thrown away. Resealable sandwich bags or Tupperware are great for leftovers. Avoid single use plastics where you can!
As for drinks, a big bottle of water and reusable cups solves the problem of keeping track of lots of individual bottles. Toddlers love to feel included and by using a Babycup First Cup they can easily share like the older children without having to struggle with a cup or bottle that is too big for their little hands.
Top tip: Keeping food chilled doesn’t have to mean spending money on reusable ice packs. Freezing whatever drinks you were planning on taking and letting them thaw out on the way keeps everything in your picnic bag nice and cool. If its not fully thawed out when you come to eat, then crushing up the remaining ice means slushies all round!
A leisurely al fresco meal could keep adults entertained for hours. Yet you will often find young children each much quicker when you’re out and about and get bored once they’ve gobbled their share of the goodies.
Bringing something to keep them entertained while you finish your food in peace is an absolute must. For younger children, a beach ball that can be deflated is easy to pack and a teddy or doll can take part in the picnic with their own plate of imaginary food (and their own Babycup First Cup too, of course!). Older children may enjoy a deck of cards or magazines and activity books.
Top tip: If you’re feeling especially creative, you could make a picnic bingo game. Simply note down, draw or print pictures of things you may see on your picnic and set the children off to mark them off as they find them. Or try a game of Tiddlywinks (remember that?!) using your empty Babycup First Cup as the goal! A sneaky, tooth-friendly treat for the winning team is always great motivation.