This weekend ditch the mall and the gadgets. Head out on a perfect picnic with your family to bond in the great outdoors. Want to know how? Read on.
By Aarthi Arun
Picnics and family outings are all about relaxing and spending time with your loved ones. But, if your family members are gathered in front of the television or if the children are taking turns over gadgets, it isn't much fun for anyone. Shopping malls may seem like the easiest option to escape from boredom, but they will burn an unnecessary hole in your pocket. Why not do something different with your family this vacation or in the weekends?
Remember your own childhood vacations? Packing lunch and going on an outing with your cousins to the nearby river bank or a temple or the beach? Those good times were a lot of fun than any window shopping or a television programme, right? Relive those moments and bond with your family by planning a picture-perfect picnic. Here's how.
First things first – select a location. You can go to a zoo, park, forest area, beach, a resort or a theme park. But, you should keep the fitness levels of all your family members – from the tiniest tots to the older generation – in mind before choosing a location. Remember, your grandmother may not be able to climb rocky stairs, and your 10-month-old niece may get cranky without a nap. Next, consider the mode of travel, and select an appropriate vehicle(s). Note the travel expenses and look out for the rest stops and refreshments in between, if choosing a location that is more than an hour away. Also, if you're opting for a resort or a theme park, remember to include the cost of the entry tickets and book in advance to avoid any last-minute disappointments.
What's a picnic without food? Discuss with your family about their choice of food and how you're going to prepare them. Are you planning for a potluck, where everyone will bring a dish, or do you want to take care of the food preparation? Foods like sandwiches, wraps and rolls are perfect to eat on-the-go, without requiring any cutlery or plates. If you don't mind the extra luggage, variety rice will be a winner, especially with adults and seniors. Also, children drain their energy soon with all that running and climbing in the outdoors so, don't forget snacks like biscuits, nuts, juice and fruits to replenish their energy. If preparing food is too much of a hassle, opt for dining at a restaurant nearby.
If you're going to spend the whole day outside, it is a good idea to plan for some activities along with sightseeing. Bring some sports items like a ball, frisbee, badminton rackets, etc., to keep the children engaged and the adults active. Your child can help pack toys and books for his younger sibling or little cousins. You can also take some board games or play some old favourites like Anthakshari or dumb charades. Grandparents can take this opportunity to teach traditional games like hopscotch, Five Stones or Pachisi to the next generation.
As much as this is a fun trip, you shouldn't put safety in the backseat. Pack your first-aid kit before anything else. You don't know when someone may need paracetamol, bandage or ointment. Carry other essentials such as insect repellents and umbrellas. A couple of blankets is a must to rest and relax, and so are some folding chairs. A flask of hot water and a cooler with chilled water can also come in handy.
You may have put your heart and soul for planning the picnic, but sometimes things don't go according to your plans. So, stop fretting if you can't take that perfect family picture, or didn't have time to do an activity that you planned for so hard. Relax and go with the flow. Children will be cranky, and someone will complain – they are part and parcel of every family, just be flexible to accommodate others. Find common ground and cherish the little moments.
A picnic is your hard-earned ticket to the land of fun, but it shouldn't be at the expense of others' peace. Encourage your family to be mindful of other people or animals sharing the nearby space and urge them not to be too loud or engage in disruptive behaviour. Moreover, you want your child to visit the same place in the future, so make sure to dispose of all your garbage properly and leave the place intact.
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